Starting your Environmental/Social Justice
Leadership Club at Your School
1. Finding Adult Support at your school for your student/youth-led club
Although youth-led clubs are the model that will bring the most success to your efforts, in most cases your club will also need some level of consistent adult support at their school to ensure your ability as youth leaders to successfully navigate your school’s process and requirements for starting up a club and help you access the resources necessary for your club’s success. Most clubs will benefit from having a permanent adult advisor. This can be a teacher, school counselor, administrator, or any other school staff person. In some cases a parent can fill this role if there is also someone at the school willing to be a liaison for your group.
If you do not have an advisor on board as you begin recruiting, it is still very important to identify at least one adult ally at your school willing to serve as that liaison during your start-up process. This also might be a teacher, counselor, or administrator. Even if they can not be your club’s advisor, they can help you deal with any “red tape” in setting up your club, and potentially help you to identify and recruit a permanent advisor.
2. Recruiting Other Students to your club
The long-term success of your club depends on recruiting enough youth members to allow the club to take on and successfully complete its identified projects and other activities.
A good way to start recruitment is old fashioned word of mouth. Reaching out to your friends, and asking them to share information about your new club with their other friends can help you identify at least a small core membership to build on.
Another way to jumpstart recruitment is to hold an orientation/recruitment meeting. In an effort to increase attendance at the meeting, it is a good idea to promote it through your school’s morning announcements, You might also utilize your school’s newspaper, or online zine. It is a good idea to explore other ways to get the word out that are specific to your school.
3. Developing your club’s “Mission Statement”
One important tool in recruiting is being able to easily answer the questions “why are we starting this club?” “what will we be doing?”. Before holding a general recruitment meeting it is a good idea for your core members to come up with one or two sentences (no more than one paragraph) that describes why you all think your club is important and what you want to accomplish in with the club.
4. Deciding on a structure for your club
Once you hold a recruitment meeting, your newly formed group will need to decide together how your club will operate. When and how often will you meet? How will your club make decisions (by majority vote, consensus)? And what kind of leadership structure will your club have?
5. Setting achievable Goals and Objectives for your new club
In your first year you want to start slowly and build on each small success. It is great to have an ambitious vision for your club, but important to have reasonable achievable goals and objectives along the way. Depending on the size of your club membership it is generally best to have no more than one (or two at the most) significant projects happening at one time. Some clubs may complete several small projects and activities one after the other throughout the year. Others may concentrate one one larger project that culminates at the end of the school year.
6. Celebrating your Successes and learning from your Challenges