The JBP Identity in Action program is a year-long after school curriculum taught through activities, discussions, lectures, documentaries, guest speakers and field-trips. The program starts by challenging youth to deconstruct their identities by looking at the societal forces that shape them, such as race, class, gender, nationality, etc. Throughout the year, youth grapple with the questions, “Why are you here?”, “Where did you come from?”, “Who are you?” Once the youth have a better realization of who they are, Justice by the Pen then challenges students to put their higher sense of identity into action by choosing a social justice project to focus on. This can range from participating in organizing, to simply gaining more autonomy over their lives. All youth organizing stems from issues that the youth themselves identify as worthy of addressing.
The Identity in Action curriculum is a malleable youth direct action program that can be tweaked for any setting and schedule. It is designed to work best as a year-long program, 2 days a week, each session roughly lasting an hour and a half.
Below are a few of our curriculum’s key areas of focus:
JBP Identity Curriculum Summary
The first day of each week will consist of a lesson from the JBP Identity Curriculum:
“Identity: Who are you, where do you come from, why are you here?” This curriculum
demands youth to reflect on how four clusters—family/culture/socialization, the natural
world/race/gender, economics/class/access to resources, and law/politics/nation—affect
who we are and the actions we as people decide to take. It then asks the students to
ponder who they are in relation to their communities now that they know themselves
better. Finally it asks youth to reflect on how they can change the forces they do not like
in their communities. This curriculum teaches youth to think critically and deconstruct the
world around them through lecturers, discussions, activities, films and field trips.
JBP Action Curriculum Summary
The second day of JBP each week will consist of a lesson from the JBP Action
Curriculum,“ Direct Action Guide: What are the problems in my community? What are
people already doing about it?, Where do I fit in?” This curriculum is broken into seven
units: community justice, food justice, education justice, prisoner justice, global majority
justice, climate justice and restorative justice. Within each unit we explore the problems
communities face under each of the seven subheadings and the possible direct actions
JBP youth can participate in to promote transformational change. For more information
on the meaning of these seven sub-headings, go to the more detailed Action Curriculum
Map, which provides brief explanations for each organizing focus. This part of our
program is taught strictly through hands on learning and field trips, which means we will
strive to be out of the building every week. We will visit organizations already working on
issues, visit areas or people affected by what students are learning about, and, of course,
go to locations where students can use their knowledge to participate in direct actions.
Charity vs. Justice
This action component of the JBP program focuses heavily on differentiating between
charity and justice. While making sandwiches and feeding the poor is a kind act, this
form of addressing an issue is not changing a personʼs situation so they are not
perpetually dependent on aid. JBP strives to pinpoint the root cause of issues to rethink
creative systems that would provide access to self-sustaining lifestyles.
Learn, Advocate, Engage
For each issue raised in the Action Curriculum, JBP offers three possible
ways to address an injustice: 1. Learn about it by educating oneself, 2. Speak about it
through advocacy, or 3. Engage by physically doing something about it with oneʼs own
hands. This is offered so that every child can get involved at the level they feel most
Additionally, JBP youth will not be required to, but will be offered, participation in
“emergency field trips”. These trips will be based on NYC activist calls for participation in
different causes that may not correspond with JBPʼs exact field-trip day or time.
However, if students want to still participate in these actions outside of JBP hours, we
will provide permission slips and chaperones.
Long-term Commitment to Action
Lastly, JBP youth will be encouraged to choose at least one long-term cause to dedicate
their time. This could range from picking up food from a restaurant and delivering it to
a shelter once a week, to feeding chickens or watering a vegetable garden every
Sunday. The intention of this program is to ignite interest within the youth so that we can
wean them off of our program and have kids involved in their communities without a
To download the free JBP curriculum, (click here).