Young Leaders Human Rights Defender Fund
Robert F. Kennedy called young people “the world’s hope.” We share his optimism and believe fervently in the next generation’s ability to create change and advance human rights, becoming champions of justice in their everyday lives.
To build a more just and peaceful world, the next generation of leaders must reflect the diverse identities of our nation’s people and honor the value of difference. We help dismantle systems of oppression and promote civic engagement by creating opportunities for young people—especially those from groups that have been underrepresented—to gain the skills and experiences they need to rise through local systems of power.
RFK Young Leaders are often based at schools where the majority of students are students of color, such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Through workshops and mentoring, sharing tools and resources, we train and encourage students to become community action organizers and civic leaders.
In June 2020, for example, our RFK Young Leaders team hosted a forum for all 14 chapters of RFK Young Leaders that offered ways in which students can protest safely, outlined best practices for interacting with police, and shared strategies for getting people involved in local politics to promote change.
Our students have led initiatives that include get-out-the-vote drives, free HIV testing on campuses, clothing drives to benefit shelters for homeless youth, and providing medical attention for injured protesters in Minneapolis. These actions are a testament to young people’s potential to lead and to create a brighter future.