Community Organizing

Building Power for Educational Justice

Student Advocacy Center is deeply committed to learning from our on-the-ground work with families and then partnering with students, parents/guardians and community members to enact lasting changes that make our communities better for everyone. This can look like supporting our youth in presenting to their school boards, marching in a rally or meeting with partners to draft new policies.

Youth Action Michigan: Creating Change

We take special care to provide support and opportunities for our youth to take the lead in creating change in their schools. Youth Action Michigan — named by past Student Advocacy Center youth — is a space for high school students to identify and implement actions to fight the school-to-prison pipeline. 


Dignity In Schools: Fighting the School-to-Prison Pipeline
Student Advocacy Center is proud to be the first Michigan member of the national Dignity In Schools Campaign, a coalition of grassroots organizations fighting the school-to-prison pipeline. Youth-led, parent-led and BIPOC-led organizations are the leading voices. DSC members help in supporting federal advocacy and campaigns such as the Model Code Project and Counselors Not Cops, as well as implementing restorative practices.

The Michigan Education Justice Coalition
We are the lead partner in Washtenaw and Jackson counties for The Michigan Education Justice Coalition, a grassroots coalition working on equitable and adequate school funding, elevating family voices and creating healing, responsive school systems. Sign up here to get more involved today. You are needed!

School-Justice Partnerships
Student Advocacy Center has participated in the School-Justice Partnerships (SJPs) in Wayne, Washtenaw and Jackson counties. We helped develop a truancy protocol in Washtenaw, worked with our volunteers to provide school code analysis for districts, and co-created tools to help districts implement alternatives to expulsion. Student Advocacy Center has presented repeatedly at the state SJP conference.

Student Advocacy Center is proud to partner with 482Forward, which is made up of neighborhood organizations, parents and youth committed to ensuring that all Detroit children have access to an excellent education, regardless of their race or socioeconomic status.

Our Successful Advocacy Across the State

  • We helped to overturn Zero Tolerance in Michigan in 2017. Michigan had one of the harshest discipline codes in the country, mandating expulsion for many reasons. The intent was to keep students safe, but evidence showed that far too many students were being removed, and that districts often felt that their hands were tied and they were forced to expel. In the end, students (particularly students of color and students with disabilities) were put at greater risk of school dropout and criminal justice involvement; they were not given the adult support needed to truly learn from their mistakes, make amends and make educational progress. Around the country, laws have changed to reduce suspensions and expulsions; at the end of 2016, Michigan’s Legislature passed the Rethink Discipline bills.
  • We successfully advocated for a Michigan school district to start providing manifestation determination reviews for students with 504 plans, per federal law. The district will be providing staff training on proper implementation of these plans.
  • We succeeded in getting educational services for youth housed at the Washtenaw County Jail.
  • We stopped hall sweeps and automatic suspensions at a Washtenaw County high school.
  • We reduced automatic 10-day suspensions for fights in a Washtenaw County high school.
  • We supported Jackson youth at an alternative high school in auditing their technology and advocating for replacement computers.

We're More Powerful Together

We rely on your help to provide students with the support they need to stay in school, find hope and grow.
Stand up for educational justice with us!