“We need to temper our words, and open our hearts.” – President Barack Obama

While our nation continues to wrestle with racial inequality and gun violence, the American Conference on Diversity’s Lead for Diversity (LFD) delegates spent six days participating in group discussions, workshops, and experiential learning activities to open their hearts and minds and create plans for more inclusive, just, and safer schools and communities.

On July 10, nearly 100 sophomore, junior, and senior high-school students and social-justice advocates throughout New Jersey and New York City gathered outside of the normal hustle and bustle of their neighborhoods, schools, and communities for a transformational social-justice educational experience in the Poconos.

The summer Institute kicks off a yearlong initiative designed to build unity, increase diversity and inclusion awareness, and ensure respect for people of all races, faiths, ethnicities, sexual identities/expressions, ability status, and ages. Not only did the students take a life-changing journey into diversity, but they were joined by corporate volunteers from BASF, L’Oréal USA, New Jersey Natural Gas, and their school advisors in developing Action Plans to address challenges specific to their schools and/or school distrACODLFD16volunteersinflowersicts.

“I was amazed to see the social issues and the program solutions,” says BASF Procurement Agent Prachi Parikh (right). “This was an excellent opportunity to learn about youth social-justice concerns. Well done!”

When the students return to school in the fall, they will begin implementing their Action Plans. The successful implementation of these plans has the potential to impact more than 20,000 students, educators, and community members throughout the tri-state area.

“Our 2016 LFD delegates come from a diverse group of educational institutions,” says Bari Katz, American Conference on Diversity’s Director of Youth/Collegiate Development Services.


Sixteen schools, ranging from Quaker and Catholic-based to urban and suburban to pubic, private, and charter, sent teams of up to four delegates. The LFD Class of 2016/17 attend:

► Dr. Richard Izquierdo Charter School (Bronx)

► Gill St. Bernard (Gladstone)

► Franklin High School

► Freehold High School (Freehold Township)

► Howell High School (Farmingdale)

► KIPP NYC College Prep High School 
(South Bronx)

► Lakewood High School

Moorestown Friends School (Moorestown)

► New Brunswick High School
 (New Brunswick)

► Passaic High School

► Princeton Day School (Princeton)

► Saint Benedict’s
Preparatory School (Newark)

► Saint Vincent Academy

► Spotswood High School

► Uncommon Charter High School (Brooklyn)

► University Academy Charter High School
 (Jersey City)

Formerly known as Anytown, NJ, LFD has been a cornerstone of the American Conference on Diversity since 1995. Over the past 21 years, more than 125 schools have participated and 3,200 students have been delegates. In a survey of past Institute 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. Watch the video of past graduates sharing their diversity-learning experiences: http://youtu.be/7sPi5XyyoeY.


Special thanks to the sponsors of this year’s Institute: BASF, Berkeley College, Fidelity, Investors Bank, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oréal USA, New Jersey Manufacturers, New Jersey Resources, Prudential Financial, PwC, PSEG, Shor Family Foundation, and Verizon.

Want to help the American Conference on Diversity continue to reach more students to help them create safe and inclusive schools and communities? Here’s how to get involved or make a donation: http://americanconferenceondiversity.org/get-involved/.

About the American Conference on Diversity

The American Conference on Diversity is dedicated to building just and inclusive schools, workplaces, and communities through awareness, education, and advocacy. The nonprofit organization 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. Visit www.AmericanConferenceonDiversity.org to learn more.


Gail Zoppo

Media Relations Consultant

109 Church Street

New Brunswick, NJ 08901