• Social Innovation Fellowship


Public Health

Award Year 

Seen and Heard

1 in every 20 students enrolled in Chicago Public Schools last year reported being homeless. These youth often hide from government agencies, so their voices are rarely heard and policies that affect them do not take their needs into account. This puts homeless youth into a vicious cycle of unemployment and homelessness. It also makes it extremely difficult for organizations to rally for change on their behalf. Seen and Heard will build a movement in which homeless youth work to affect policy in Chicago. The youth in Seen and Heard will be recruited from youth centers and trained in principles of civic engagement. They will work with leaders in their communities to build opportunities for local and city-wide change. By bringing them together with a common mission, Seen and Heard will empower homeless youth with strong relationships and confidence.


When I visit my high school, I become nostalgic of my classes, professors, and the teams I was on. My finest memories, however, are not connected to the school at all. When I walk along 57th street, I cross Noodles, where I went anytime I wanted to find a friend because someone I knew was bound to be dining there. I turn right on Kimbark Street and remember the time my friends and I played Monopoly in the park all night. You had to get to the park before 4 pm if you wanted to climb in the fountain during summer, or else the kindergarteners would hog it for hours. When I go back years later, the students of Lab School carry on the same traditions. I know that I, and many others, owe their fondest memories of their childhood to the places and landmarks around Hyde Park. A young person's community, or lack thereof, has a more significant impact on his or her psyche than any other aspect of life. Hyde Park gave me a place to learn, grow, and thrive, and I owe that community so much in return. 

I feel similarly about the many neighborhoods of Chicago, sometimes called the "city of neighborhoods". I think the best way to give back to Chicago is by strengthening communities for the young people in them. Disenfranchised youth often travel around the city looking for a secure place to live. This deprives them of finding a community and strong relationships that could help them achieve their own goals. It has been my mission since coming to Brown to use my range of resources to help the youth of Chicago feel wanted and heard.