Press Release 10/29/14

Perrin Family Foundation Hosts First Ever Statewide Youth in Action Networking Event

“I discovered something I never thought I would be able to discover. What I discovered is that I am a leader.” Jonathan from Hearing Youth Voices

More than one hundred youth involved with twenty organizations from all over the state of Connecticut gathered in Bridgeport on Thursday night, October 23rd, to celebrate their social change work and the anniversary of the Perrin Family Foundation that supports this work. There were youth working on issues such as food justice, equity in education, gun violence and immigration issues. They performed and spoke from their hearts about the frustrations they have with policies and practices that deter them from learning, growing and living in peaceful just communities.

They echoed the philosophy of the Perrin Family Foundation that young people need to be at the table when issues that directly impact them are being discussed.
Josh, from Breakthru, a New Haven organization addressing community violence through the arts and theater, made a passionate case for the importance of empowering youth by saying, “The adults don’t always have the answers. They think they know what’s best for them, but they can’t get what’s best for the kids without the kids. Once (youth) see what they can do with their voice and the power they have…they take that and they run with it. You just have to see how that inspires some of these kids. Literally, it just changes their whole attitude and how they carry themselves.” His comments came in a special video commissioned by the Perrin Family Foundation to highlight the stories of youth working to create change in underserved communities. These stories included learning about what motivates youth to get involved in their communities. “This is where I’m most likely going to live later on, and I definitely want my ideas out,” said Ismael from Hartford Food Systems, a group working on food justice. Ariana, working with Ismael, pointed to a shriveled, unappetizing hamburger and made the point that fresh food is hard to access in many communities.

Other organizations showcased their work at the event. Karie from Creative Youth Productions, working on gun violence, spoke about the value of having ‘a place to go’ where youth can express their concern for the safety of their communities through original theater performances. A group of youth from Hearing Youth Voices, working on education issues, performed a song about school credit loss policies that are undermining students’ ability to graduate on time. Junior, from CT Students for a Dream, told his story about the challenges he faced as a child of undocumented immigrants.

Serious talk mingled with fun. Music and dance highlighted the evening with a special performance by the Jazz Band from Neighborhood Studios.
Sheila Perrin, president of the foundation, spoke about the foundation’s work and said that they are proud to support these organizations where youth are spending their time and having meaningful discussions about tough issues, learning and working for change. The goal of the foundation is to help these organizations engage their youth in the appropriate way to run campaigns and work together to make change happen. “We value the voice of young people, their talents and ideas and their commitment to make CT a place of peace and justice,” Sheila told the group.

This was the first statewide convening that the foundation hosted where youth could network and collaborate with one another, beginning to break down the statewide barriers that separate them. A recent field scan done by the foundation showed that there was very little organizing work going on in CT, but there is a desire to see more. It is the hope of the staff and board at the Perrin Family Foundation that others will join with the Perrin Family Foundation and support organizations that nurture and support the voices of our CT youth. Please visit the Perrin Family Foundation website to learn more about youth-led social change initiatives, read the scan A New Role for Connecticut Youth: Leaders of Social Change and watch the Youth In Action video at

Youth Networking for Community Change-Reaiah from Youth UnleasED in New Haven, Keith and Latrell from Creative Youth Productions in Bridgeport and Josh from Breakthru in New Haven.

Youth Networking for Community Change-Reaiah from Youth UnleasED in New Haven, Keith and Latrell from Creative Youth Productions in Bridgeport and Josh from Breakthru in New Haven.