The League of Women Voters of Rve, Rye Brook & Port Chester is the fiscal sponsor of a program known as Tools for Change. Tools for Change is a collaborative action-research seminar for high school students in the Rye Neck, Blind Brook and Port Chester High Schools, three schools that are socioeconomically different. Each year approximately 25 to 35 students participate in the semester (half year) course.
The Tools for Change program is taught by Dr. William Tobin of Duke University and its curriculum is modeled on an honors program in the Sociology Department at Duke University. The voluntary program is a college level seminar course that allows students to form real world policy recommendations by employing research methods and analytics used by social scientists.
The Tools for Change program focuses teenagers from diverse backgrounds to conduct research, analyze and solve community problems. As Dr. Tobin has written, “Tools grows young people who not only possess disciplined analytical and interpretive skills, as well as empathy and wisdom, but can bring these traits to bear on local challenges that have national and global dimensions. The focus of Tools is not to transmit knowledge, but instead to teach a style for engaging the world so that new and existing knowledge and data can be productively organized, analyzed and used.”
In the past years topics that have been examined include whether the voting age in local elections should be lowered to 16 to increase civic engagement, the impact of hunger in our local communities, and employment opportunities for teenagers. A written report of the research, findings and recommendations is prepared and that report is presented at a public forum which is advertised through social media and newspapers in the local communities.
The program is sponsored by our local league chapter in conjunction with the Westchester County Youth Bureau. It is public-private partnership and presently obtains its funding from the County of Westchester and private individuals.
Seeing teenagers from diverse high schools come together to collaboratively work on social and community issues also has the effect of breaking down social barriers and preconceived notions.
“Truly an eye opening experience…changed how I think about my community…on a daily basis.’
“Taught me…that even though we come from different schools, we are very similar and different in our own way.”
“I learned that I’m smarter than I thought I was…”
LWV Contact: Joan Feinstein, Chair Youth Programming
Phone: 914-937-3626, Cell: 914-525-7019