Across the country student activists have made their voices heard as agents of social change through leading and participating in community-based movements. Their efforts have captured media attention and have raised awareness on issues as diverse as racial justice, gun control, sexual assault, gender discrimination, equal protection for members of the LGTBQ community, immigration, the need for economic fairness and opportunity, student rights and environmental degradation.

Today’s activism is only the beginning – and we’d like to do our part to nurture and sustain it.

Faculty and staff of the Florida Atlantic University, along with our community partners at Peaceful Mind-Peaceful Life, have been moved by these events and want to support these important democratic engagements. As educators and as members of the community we feel called to offer our resources, facilities and expertise for those interested in enriching their activism skills and building meaningful projects for their communities. 

But we also feel called to learn from those of you who are already doing so much to transform your schools, neighborhoods and communities. We understand that times have changed. Many of the older models of social and political action are outdated. Young people today are impacting policy and political affairs in ways unmatched since the 1960’s. With effective use of social and digital media and through networking with like-minded individuals, engaged young people bring an authentic and dedicated purpose to their efforts. Your community’s change efforts have made you a leader to others and we want to help magnify your voice by putting you in contact with other youth activists so that you can learn from one another while acquiring skills and knowledge to build and sustain social change projects.

The Fellowship

The Barb Schmidt Fellowship: Cultivating Community Engagement, Activism, and Social Change provides students with a platform to develop the skills and knowledge needed to initiate, execute, and sustain a social movement. The Fellowship gives students hands on experience through peer-to-peer mentorship and workshops led by social influencers and FAU faculty. Students will learn key professional and technical skills that are essential for driving social change. After exploring the workings of social movements and gaining the expertise needed, students will then work on their own individual or group project of choice, which will be presented at the end of the fellowship and launched as a real intervention related to the project’s goals.

The Curriculum

Over the entire academic year, on Saturdays, fellows will explore the dynamics of creating, developing, and sustaining social movements through peer-to-peer and student-to-faculty interactive workshops designed to be a platform for student-driven activism and engagement. Grounding this experience will be the introduction to and the practice of mindfulness techniques to ensure the self-care and sustainability required for successful social movement work. Led by internationally recognized author and mindfulness teacher Barb Schmidt, this element of the fellowship will provide students a practical demonstration of her maxim that “outer peace begins through inner peace.” Workshop topics include: Planning and Organizing Campaigns; Mastering the Media; Fundraising and Donor Engagement; Effective New Media Strategies; Public Presentation Skills; Avoiding Fatigue and Movement Splintering; Creative Writing for Social Change; Visual Arts and Community Engagement; other topics generated by participants as the fellowship year progresses. Time and space will also be devoted to each participant’s project development and will include on-going interaction with faculty and activist mentors. The Fellowship will end in early May with a launch event in which each project is presented and celebrated. Community leaders, local activists and organizations, and the media will be invited to help promote the social change projects our fellows have developed.

Earn College Credits through Dual Enrollment

The fellowship is open to high school students grades 11-12 living in Palm Beach or Broward County who qualify for dual enrollment at FAU. Successful completion of the program earns each fellow 6 college credits. All fellowship meetings will take place on FAU’s Boca Raton campus.

Credits from the fellowship can also be counted toward's FAU's Peace, Justice and Human Rights (PJHR) Certificate. For more information about the certificate, please visit the Peace, Justice and Human Rights website.

Participant’s Commitment and Financial Support

Given the project-based and participatory nature of the program, students are required to commit to complete the entire program. All fellows selected to participate will receive a $1,000 fellowship stipend to support their participation and work. Dual Enrollment credits are covered by the School District. All other costs are covered by the University, Peaceful Mind-Peaceful Life, and the generous community benefactors supporting the program.