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Ignite Change, Build Bridges, Be the Future

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The fight against systemic injustice begins with informed and passionate individuals. Welcome to LEAD STL's Cultural Leadership Experience, where high school students transform into the civic leaders and social justice changemakers of tomorrow. As our lead facilitator often reminds us, “The best friend of oppression is silence.” Here, we don't just talk about social justice—we act on it.

We delve deep into history, take field trips to places steeped in cultural importance, and meet the change agents who hand us the baton. In other words, we're training the next generation of civil rights activists, whom we fondly dub “troublemakers of the best kind!”


How Does the Program Work?

Our Cultural Leadership Experience offers an intense and enriching year-long curriculum, spanning over 420 hours from January to October. The program encompasses:

- Cultural activities
- Public speaking and leadership training
- Educational travel
- Workshops on systemic injustice

Through these experiences, students explore the rich tapestry of their own and each other's histories, religions, and cultures. They gain insights into how systems of oppression are built and function, acquiring the tools and support they need to dismantle these structures in their communities.

Breaking the Barriers

St. Louis is notorious for its neighborhood, school district, and socioeconomic segregation. At LEAD STL, we intentionally challenge this status quo by curating our cohorts from a diverse cross-section of zip codes and school districts. The relationships formed within these diverse groups serve as the bedrock for healing the deep-rooted divisions that plague our city.


Highlights of the Year

Sunday Programs and Weekend-Long Retreats
About once a month, the "village" convenes for relationship-building, cultural understanding, and knowledge-sharing. Industry experts give talks and facilitate workshops on topics like African American history, Jewish culture, education equity, housing segregation, environmental justice, and much more.

School Swap
Students immerse themselves in a school setting different from their own, shadowing a Cultural Leadership classmate to understand education inequity firsthand. This eye-opening experience challenges their perspectives and encourages meaningful dialogue with administrators and peers alike.

Holiday Swap
In a true spirit of cross-cultural exchange, Jewish students host a Passover Seder for their non-Jewish classmates, and vice-versa during Christian holidays like Palm Sunday or Easter. Students from other religious backgrounds are also encouraged to share their traditions.

The Transformational Journey
For three transformative weeks in June, students travel through the East Coast and South, visiting sites and meeting with individuals significant to social justice and Black and Jewish history and culture. Each night, students will debrief on the day's experience with adult leaders and each other to help process and and find meaning in the day's learning .


Apply to Class 20 Today!

Applications for Class 20 of Cultural Leadership are open!  If you're a current high school freshman or sophomore--who will be a sophomore or junior in the 2024- 2025 school year--living in the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan Area, you're eligible to apply!  Our next class begins December '24!

Apply online here! 


After submitting your application, LEAD STL's selection committee will review it and let you know if you've been invited to participate in an in-person interview in October.  Please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions you might have 

**For more information, contact:**

Jeremy Brok  
Director of Core Programs  
Phone: 314-354-8236

Become a part of the change. Join the Cultural Leadership Experience today.

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