Voices of Youth in Chicago Education, or VOYCE, is a youth organizing collaborative for education and racial justice led by students of color from community organizations across the city of Chicago. VOYCE works to increase Chicago’s graduation rate by using youth-driven research and organizing to advance district-level policies that support student achievement.
VOYCE’s work is driven by the belief that young people who are most directly affected by educational inequity are in the best position to develop meaningful, long-lasting solutions. To lay the foundation for VOYCE’s campaign, more than a hundred youth conducted an in-depth, year-long Participatory Action Research study on the root causes of the city’s 50% graduation rate. The students found that to increase graduation rates, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) must build a foundation for student success through district- and school-level policies and practices that foster trusting and supportive relationships with peers and school staff.
Today, VOYCE’s organizing focuses on three priority areas:
- Ending the use of harsh discipline policies that push students out of school and into prisons
- Implementing the use of restorative discipline practices
- Limiting the use of high-stakes testing and creating high-quality learning environments