Leveraging Diversity for a Better Educational Experience in Our Schools

The American Conference on Diversity staff is ramping up for the annual Lead for Diversity (LFD) program, a year-long initiative that will begin July 13 with an intensive six-day residential retreat in Pennsylvania. This year, teams of students entering grades 10, 11, and 12 from 20 high schools across New Jersey will engage in experiential workshops, small group discussions, and action planning around social justice and diversity issues. Working collaboratively with students, educators, and counselors, about 80 students will create Action Plans to be implemented during the school year that address improving cross-cultural relationships, eliminating bullying, increasing bias awareness, and other challenges unique to their communities. The successful implementation of these Action Plans has the potential to reach more than 20,000 of New Jersey’s students, educators, and community members during the upcoming school year.

What are our most recent delegates saying about LFD?

“I appreciated gaining knowledge on all the prejudice, stereotypes, and assumptions people make and how I can educate others. I learned to challenge my thoughts so my community can grow and become unified. I loved the whole experience.”

–Kush Shah

“I can’t wait to be a counselor. This experience changed my life. I grew so much and can’t wait to educate others.”

–Gia Weber

“The most important things about LFD to me were really getting to discuss topics that aren’t normally talked about and making new friends.”

–Stephen Boncimino

“It was important learning that everyone really does have a story and that everyone is diverse, which is a really GREAT thing!”

–Brittany Acevedo

“The diverse culture united us more and more and I learned so much that I can translate over to my community. I had the best time of my life and hope to use my experiences for the better.”

–Sujay Gami

WATCH the video of more students sharing their diversity-learning experiences:

What have these teens accomplished during the past school year?

Cedar Creek High School (Egg Harbor City) ~ Held an Ability Status Awareness month during which the delegates educated faculty about supporting students who are differently-abled.

Freehold Township High School (Freehold Township) ~ Created “I’m an Identity, But I’m Not a Stereotype” video portraying students disproving stereotypes. The video was presented at a school assembly, to the municipal alliance, and at a town council meeting.

Lakewood High School (Lakewood Township)~ Made an educational video and lesson guide about bias reduction and anti-bullying that was shared with all teachers across the district. WATCH it here:

Princeton Day School (Princeton) ~ Organized an assembly focused on socioeconomic status. The featured speaker was Columbia University professor Shamus Rahman Khan, author of Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite.

St. Benedict’s Preparatory School (Newark) ~ Presented “Verbal Dehumanization Toward Women,” a series of workshops and discussions on gender language to raise awareness of the impact of derogatory words.

Secaucus High School (Secaucus) ~ Developed a Peer Leadership Club for students who cannot fit a Peer Leadership class into their schedule. Students also held a workshop during the school’s Cultural Activity Day in April.

University Academy Charter High School (Jersey City) ~ Using iPads to video record their peers’ experiences with diversity and stereotyping, the students incorporated the interviews into a video presentation.

Thanks to the generosity of the following LFD Partners in Education and other donors, more than 50 percent of the total cost for a school team to participate was subsidized: Shor Family Foundation Inc. (Founder); New Jersey Natural Gas and Victoria Foundation (Benefactors); NASCO and Wilf Family Foundation (Patrons); Fidelity Investments, Investors Foundation, NJM Insurance Group, and The Provident Bank Foundation (Delegate Sponsors). Learn more about the LFD program and Partner in Education New Jersey Natural Gas in the May/June 2014 issue of Profiles in Diversity Journal (page 54). If your organization would like to become a Partner in Education by sponsoring a team or making a donation, please visit

For more on the impact of LFD, download our Survey Report ( and Advisors’ Evaluation Report (

Want to experience our LFD Summer Session firsthand?

Join us on Tuesday, July 15, for visitors’ day at the Pocono Environmental Education Center in Dingmans Ferry, PA, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Reporters are welcome to join us on July 17, when school advisors will be joining their students for action planning. Please contact Damica at 732-745-9330 or to register. Advance registration is required; no one will be allowed to attend without advance confirmation.