"I learned to feel happy and proud I’m from West Virginia," said one young woman after a trip sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee’s (AFSC) Appalachian Center for Equality (ACE) program. As it expands into two other West Virginia counties, ACE hopes to bring even more young people to the same types of realizations.
AFSC’s efforts in West Virginia’s southern coalfields have historically been focused on young African-American women in Logan County. Mentoring gives these women a safe space to learn about themselves and their community with the guidance of trusted adults. Three years ago, a male mentor began working with young men interested in the program. The program has expanded geographically too; Mingo and Boone County high schools are set to join Logan County in hosting ACE groups in the coming school year, according to Lida Shepherd, who became program director in January 2012.
ACE aims to empower participants by imparting interpersonal and personal skills and helping them advance to higher education. To accomplish this, the program takes participants on visits to colleges, provides test preparation, helps with applications, and directs students to resources like scholarships and fellowships to make higher education affordable. The program also uses trips to teach young people about local history, social justice and advocacy, and environmental concerns. These experiences give students exposure to cultures different from their own, often by allowing them to interact with others their age from different regions and even different countries.
On Saturday December 4, 2010 at Coppin State University, youth advocates, social workers, writers, lawyers, entertainers, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers came together to discuss how to make all youth feel safe and valued in our society. Youth Wellness and Equality Day was something you don’t see much in Baltimore: a day where people from all walks of life came together to support the lives of LGBTQ youth in the city.
Where Are They Now Members of the 2009 BAPs mentoring group interviewed young women who had participated in the program in the past. The interviews and accompanying photos were compiled into this dynamic booklet. ($4)
Proud Heritage A joint project of New Empowerment for Women Plus (NEW+) and the Logan County Improvement League, this 50-page book recounts the unique role played by African Americans in the history and culture of the southern West Viirginia coalfields. ($12)
Who we are
AFSC is a Quaker organization devoted to service, development, and peace programs throughout the world. Our work is based on the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice. Learn more
Where we work
AFSC has offices around the world. To see a complete list see the Where We Work page.