The Equity Center, U.Va.

The Equity Center

A UVA Democracy Initiative center for the redress of inequity through community-engaged scholarship



Youth Power

Faculty Co-Directors: Nancy Deutsch and Bonnie Gordon
Community Co-Directors: Daniel Fairley, Leah Puryear, and Joy Johnson
Staff Lead: Ben Allen

Description:The Equity Center’s deep commitment to Youth begins with Youth Power, a series of initiatives with two overarching aims: 1) supporting young people as change agents in their communities and 2) addressing long-standing racial and economic educational inequities.


1. Supporting young people as change agents in their communities: Recognizing that local youth are already engaged in social change to promote equity, the Equity Center provides training, resources, and a platform to enhance the impact of youth civic engagement through action research. We aim to build an infrastructure for youth to engage in research and develop solutions for inequities in our community that impact their lives. In addition to supporting local K-12 youth, the Equity Center prepares UVA students to confront and combat inequity and engage authentically in community-engaged scholarship.

2. Addressing educational inequities.  The Equity Center aims to build authentic partnerships and connections with local schools, educators, and youth-serving organizations and programs to address long-standing educational disparities in public school divisions in Charlottesville, Albemarle, and surrounding counties. Our plan includes supporting existing pipeline programs designed to provide educational and career opportunities to underserved students, particularly African American, Latinx, low-wealth and immigrant youth, and helping to build additional programming and/or infrastructure where the community identifies needs.

Goals: Redressing longstanding educational inequities is a community-wide responsibility and will not be achieved by a single entity alone. Therefore, we monitor progress towards our goals by assessing the processes and outcomes of our work in the following key areas:   

  • Building and sustaining strong relationships with local school divisions to support ongoing equity work

  • Training and supporting youth (including UVA students) to engage in community-engaged research 

  • Increasing educational and career opportunities for underserved youth

  • Developing young people to be active and engaged citizens knowledgeable about issues of social justice