The Philadelphia Student Union exists to build the power of young people to demand a high-quality education in the Philadelphia public school system. We are a youth-centered organization where we make positive changes in the short term by learning how to organize to build power. We also work toward becoming life-long learners and leaders who can bring diverse groups of people together to address the problems that our communities face every day.
We prioritize youth organizing and leadership development through three methods: youth-led school chapters, citywide meetings, and arts and cultural programming. Through these activities, young people cultivate their organizing and leadership capacity by gaining political education, organizing training, and other information that helps young people grow and adapt in their quest to attain equitable education in the city of Philadelphia. These meetings serve as critical junctures that develop a collective identity as youth and help them embody that identity in their schools. The work that we do allows young people to develop campaigns that focus on the challenges that they face everyday at school such as the fight for police free schooling or restorative justice for students.
The organization has grown from the dream of a few students to a strong organization that has allowed students themselves to become a major force for improving schools in Philadelphia. Over 3,500 young people have completed the Student Union’s leadership development program. These young people learned how to bring people together to solve problems. Many of our former members have become active in organizing, youth work and advocacy in their colleges and communities.