Youth, educators & corporate volunteers gathered at the Lead for Diversity Institute to create diversity Action Plans that will impact our future!

While most New Jersey teens were heading to the Jersey Shore, a group of inspirational sophomore, junior, and senior high-school student leaders from a dozen schools across the Garden State traveled to the American Conference on Diversity’s Lead for Diversity (LFD) Institute in the Poconos last month. The topic of discussions definitely included many of the racially charged incidents of the summer. Their mission: to develop diversity Action Plans to foster more inclusive and welcoming school campuses and communities for all.

Held at the Poconos Environmental Education Center in Dingmans Ferry, Pa., the six-day residential learning session kicks off a yearlong initiative designed to promote unity, increase diversity and inclusion awareness, and ensure respect for people of all races, faiths, ethnicities, sexual identities/expressions, ability status, and ages. During the week, teams of students took a journey into diversity that included large and small group discussions, workshops, experiential learning activities, and more. During the experience the students were joined by corporate volunteers from BASF, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Investors Bank, and L’Oréal USA who, along with school advisors, participated in developing Action Plans to address challenges specific to their schools and/or school districts. The students will start implementing their plans when they return to school in a few weeks. The successful implementation of these plans has the potential to reach more than 20,000 New Jersey students, educators, and community members. You can follow #Change15Coming on social media to see the progress of the students’ Action Plans.


“For our students, Lead for Diversity opens up different paths and avenues to things that maybe they’re not accustomed to discussing,” said Howell High School Principal Jeremy Braverman. “The program helps our students get down to their core and, ultimately, turnkey [their Action Plans] to the rest of the student body.”

The Institute was an eye-opening experience for the corporate volunteers as well:

“The enthusiasm and engagement of the Lead for Diversity delegates and staff were superb… The students took their charge of going back to their school and sharing what they learned during the week to be agents of change very seriously. If the LFD delegates stay committed to sharing and working to see change, I think [the American Conference on ‎Diversity] will be proud to know that they helped to develop good, socially aware and accepting leaders” Amanda Clopton, L’Oréal USA

“Lead for Diversity is a great program and every school should take part in it.” Prachi Parikh, BASF

“I thought we were going to Lead for Diversity Institute to be teachers…but it turns out we were the students.” Christian Griffin, L’Oréal USA

Participating institutions for the Lead for Diversity 2015-2016 school year include: Absegami High School (Galloway), Bayonne High School (Bayonne), Christ The King Preparatory High School (Newark), Franklin High School (Somerset), Freehold High School (Freehold Township), Gill St. Bernard’s School (Gladstone), Howell High School (Farmingdale), Princeton Day School (Princeton), Saint Benedict’s Preparatory School (Newark), Saint Vincent Academy (Newark), University Academy Charter High School (Jersey City), and William Dickinson High School (Jersey City).


Thanks to the American Conference on Diversity’s generous LFD Partners in Education and other donors, all of our participating schools receive scholarships totaling more than $65,000 each year. The 2015 LFD sponsors include Shore Family Foundation, Investors Bank, Prudential Financial (Legacy); BASF, Berkeley College, NJM Insurance Group, PSEG, Sills Cummis & Gross P.C., Verizon, New Jersey Natural Gas (Anniversary); L’Oréal USA and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (Champions); and Elberon Development Group (Ally).

Formerly known as Anytown, NJ, LFD has been a cornerstone of the American Conference on Diversity since 1995. Over the past 20 years, more than 120 of New Jersey’s high schools have participated and 3,200 students have been delegates. In a survey of past program participants, nearly 80 percent of the delegates said that attending LFD impacted their career choice, leading them to education, social work, nonprofit work, healthcare, government, and law. For more on the impact of Lead for Diversity, download our Survey Report ( and Advisors’ Evaluation Report (

Whether you want to ‎volunteer, apply for an internship, host an event, or ‎donate funds, please get involved with the American Conference on Diversity to help make workplaces, schools, and communities throughout NJ and beyond safe and welcoming environments. Find out more here:


Photography by J Foster Imagery


About the American Conference on Diversity

The American Conference on Diversity was founded in 1948 as the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Today, the programs, services, and initiatives of the American Conference on Diversity are among the most important work focused on creating a more inclusive society. It is the unfinished business of living in a highly diverse nation: educating and empowering our next generation of leaders; enhancing our workplaces; and helping to create inclusive communities. The American Conference on Diversity builds on an historic mission and creates programs and activities relevant and vital to 21st Century life. It is a journey we can all take together. The American Conference on Diversity operates Regional Community Networks covering all of New Jersey. Visit to learn more.



Gail Zoppo

Media Relations Consultant

109 Church Street

New Brunswick, NJ 08901