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OpenMind OpenMic leadership Programs (10-week, 2-year program or workshop)

OVERVIEW - 2 year program  ( for any questions, detailed information on the 10-week program or workshop, please contact us.)

The OpenMind OpenMic Leadership Program is a 2-year after-school program for high school students in all communities. The mission of the program is to nurture and develop socially responsible and conscious leaders for the 21st century through creative and healthy self-expression and self-knowledge. The program is guided by a curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary activities in the arts, social/emotional learning, and critical thinking as means of individual and social transformation.

At weekly sessions, students will engage in an exploration of nonviolence and communication through discussion and a variety of artistic media. Conversation will be student-led and guided by trained facilitators. Students will be trained as Student Leaders to support their peers to further develop their self-awareness and express themselves positively and creatively, creating a culture of peace in a school setting. The Student Leaders will host OpenMind OpenMic events at their schools. During the second year of the program, they will continue to serve in a leadership capacity, taking on responsibility as facilitators of training sessions for the next cohort of Student Leaders.

Instead of teaching competencies that quickly become obsolete, short-lived, or non-transferrable, this program introduces students to understanding the power of self-awareness and self-knowledge. We encourage our students to internalize the axiom, "I am not my circumstances. I am my decisions." By changing the focus from “what you do” to “who you are,” and giving students a roadmap to generate meaningful impact, we strive to help students expand their capacity and develop tools for resilience. By engaging students in discussion and facilitating dialogues among their peers about the root causes of violence and paths to peace, we strive to combat violence among youth in the city of Chicago and in all communities.


The objectives of the Open Mind Open Mic program are: 

* To provide self-reflective activities that allow students to think about and their individual patterns of behavior that negate their dignity and the dignity of others.
* To provide a safe space for students to express and share their feelings.
* To help students see that irrespective of one’s background (nature v. nurture), there is a real possibility for human beings to change.
* To provide a peace/non-violence curriculum that allows students become aware of human interconnectedness and the dignity of all human life.
* To provide the tools for creative/healthy self-expression.
* To introduce students to various forms of artistic expression, allowing them to explore opportunities to express themselves.


When the two year program begins, students will be recruited at “open registration” events held at each participating school. Prospective Student Leaders will be interviewed individually in a friendly setting to evaluate their sense of commitment. During the first year of Student Leadership Program, students will complete a 20-week training program. At weekly 90-minute sessions or biweekly 60-minute sessions taking place at their respective schools, students will engage both with social issues and with artistic media. Students will use what was learned in the training to facilitate periodic OpenMind OpenMic sessions for their student body at their school, where all students are free to engage in self-expression around peace/non-violence. During the program’s pilot year, five instructors will be trained who will facilitate the workshops along with HumanThread’s After School Program Director Ashley Stone, with one or two instructors present at each workshop. During the second year of the program, Student Leaders who successfully completed the first year of the program and remain in good standing will be invited to serve as workshop facilitators. They will apply their training from the previous year and will be paid a stipend. 


The OpenMind OpenMic Leadership Program’s curriculum is designed by After School Program Director Ashley Stone (MA Sociology, DePaul University), Margaret Paulson (MA International Comparative Education, Stanford University) and Executive Director Michiko Kobayashi (MA Social Service Administration, University of Chicago) with David Stovall, associate professor of Educational Policy Studies at University of Illinois Chicago, and Bart Schultz, PhD, senior lecturer in humanities at University of Chicago as curriculum advisors. The curriculum is largely based on the philosophies of humanistic psychology (emphasizing humanity’s inherent goodness and potential) and restorative justice (emphasizing problem-solving and restoration over punitive means), philosophies rooted in the works of Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. 

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