Last year, KQED Education produced a series of videos about four high school students from around the San Francisco Bay who were “stepping up” to create change in their own communities.  We then invited students from California and elsewhere to submit written and video entries describing the types of community activism they were engaged in.

Teens addressed global issues, talked about creating spaces to bridge political and cultural differences and shared how they’ve responded to challenging circumstances. Their pieces highlighted the creative ways they are addressing a wide range of issues, from protecting the environment to combating sexual harassment in school.

Check out the entire collection of showcase video submissions here.

These are a selection of the inspiring entries we received:

Superposition Hackathon

Areeta Wong, San Mateo High School, 12th grade

Areeta Wong created, Superposition, an all-girls hackathon aimed at middle, high school, and college girls in the Bay Area. The mission is to provide a safe, welcoming, racially diverse, and supportive space for girls to explore computer science.

Anova School

Gursimran Singh Panesar, Mills High School (Burlingame), 9th grade

After reading a CNN article about how the Anova school for the Autistic was destroyed in the recent devastating California Wildfires, I was deeply touched.For these kids, who are less resilient to change, it must be extremely upsetting to lose their school and in some cases, their whole lives, and these disabled kids need an immediate response to return their lives to normal. With that in mind, I paid a visit to Anova in order to get a firsthand look at the destruction and determine how I could bring smiles to their faces.” (continue reading here …)

Bridge the Divide

Rachna Shah, Dartmouth College (NH), Freshman

In the fall of 2016, I joined Bridge the Divide. Bridge the Divide is an online international initiative that brings young people from across party lines and country borders together to engage in productive and respectful policy discussions.” (continue reading here …)

Rise Up

Marley Nelson, Galileo High School (San Francisco), 12th grade;  Kurtis Chan, Lincoln High School (San Francisco), 11th grade; Taylor Griffin, Dougherty Valley High School (San Ramon), 11th grade

Marley, Kurtis, and Taylor captured the story of Emily M, a student at Galileo High School who organized a student walk out after the 2016 presidential election.

Day of the Girl

Anoushka Ambavanekar, Vista del Lago High School (Folsom), 10th grade

I discovered Day of the Girl, an organization that advocates for intersectional feminism and many important topics. As a member of the Action Team, I created a letter writing toolkit that helps activists host an event for letter writing to politicians on issues that they care about.” (continue reading here …)

Lunchtime Open Forum

Hanna Von, San Marino High School, 11th grade

Hanna V. and other students at San Mateo high school created a lunch time gathering space for teachers and students to talk about important issues.

Zero Waste

Jacqueleine Liu, Monta Vista High School (Cupertino), 9th grade

“Instead of plastic bags, I use reusable bags, and rather polluting the world with plastic toothbrushes, I use a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush. These small changes may seem insignificant, but every little effort helps to save the environment.” (continue reading here …)

These High School Students Are Stepping Up for Change in Their Communities 22 January,2018Matthew Green


Matthew Green

Matthew Green is a digital media producer for KQED News. He previously produced The Lowdown, KQED’s multimedia news education blog. Matthew's written for numerous Bay Area publications, including the Oakland Tribune and San Francisco Chronicle. He also taught journalism classes at Fremont High School in East Oakland.

Email:; Twitter: @MGreenKQED

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