Youth Leadership

By participating in Youth Leadership programming students learn valuable leadership and social and emotional learning skills that set them up for success in school and beyond.


Areas of Focus Include:

Communication – Youth learn and practice active listening, public speaking and soliciting & engaging the participation of others (including those who are being left out) & facilitation skills.

Teamwork – Youth learn about performing roles of both leader and participant, building on strengths, and commitment to free group input and expression.

Personal Identity – Youth explore their own identity, learn to understand the relationship between oneself and the community, pride in being a member of a larger cultural/ethnic group, awareness of areas for self-improvement, and taking responsibility for one’s actions.

Leadership/Professionalism– Youth learn the definitions, qualities and styles of leadership; responsibilities of leadership; identifying values; personal asset mapping; youth-adult power in organizations/schools; the power of one person to make change.

Understanding protocols, appropriate dress and action given the situation, delivering quality work, positively presenting oneself to others.

Project Management – Youth learn about setting goals/developing action steps, meeting facilitation skills, reflection/debriefs, distinguishing between one’s interests and community needs.


Middle School Leaders at Beyond Differences®

Older students (7th & 8th Graders) mentoring and acting as role models for their younger peers is at the core of Beyond Differences® philosophy. Younger students inspired by their classmates in turn want to become leaders themselves. Often those who have excluded others are themselves feeling lonely and isolated- identifying those students as well as those who feel unseen, excluded and/or othered because of their differences and providing them leadership opportunities is our goal.

Our goal is to help create and encourage youth leaders, who embrace differences, and inspire their friends, teachers, and parents to join them in ending social isolation and creating cultures of belonging.

Middle School Student Leaders help to organize and facilitate our National Awareness Days, lead student centered lessons from our SEL Curriculum and participate in community service projects

High School Teen Boards

Beyond Differences® currently has three Regional Teen Boards, this school year, composed of eighty 9th – 12th graders in various schools throughout the SF Bay Area (East Bay/Oakland & in the North Bay) and in Portland, Oregon. These youth leaders, who had participated as middle schoolers, eagerly stepped forward and said, “Yes! I want to make a difference in my school and my community!” By dedicating themselves to Beyond Differences®, they are becoming inclusive leaders, embracing differences, and inspiring their friends, teachers, and parents to end social isolation.

Teen Boards meet monthly to: plan and lead middle school mentoring activities. In the past this has included retreats, assemblies, school-site coaching for our National Awareness Day events, and now, due to the pandemic, creating videos to illustrate the lessons in our teacher curriculum.

This summer teen board members helped to add more content to our SEL Curriculum regarding racial equity, anti-bias, and allyship and helped freshen up lessons with current updated language on gender expression and LBGTQ issues.

Teen Board members speak at public conferences and events, participate in Educator Professional Development workshops, and serve on planning committees for grants. Select teen board members also attend Governing Board of Directors’ meetings throughout the year. Middle school-aged students are taught and inspired by Teen Board members which, in turn, inspire them to become Teen Board members when they enter high school.

Learn More about our SF Bay Area High School Teen Board of Directors Here

Learn More about our Portland High School Teen Board of Directors Here

National Teen Board

We have been actively seeking support for the design and transition of Beyond Differences® Regional Teen Board model into a National Teen Board as part of our 3-year Strategic Plan adopted by our Board of Directors in August 2020.

Beyond Differences® Strategic Plan, proposes to transition our West Coast teen boards to a National Teen Board that gives middle schoolers the rare opportunity to be taught and inspired by teen activists, and to grow into teen leaders themselves. We are committed to moving forward on this goal and have hired a consultant to work with a committed group of Bay Area teens and local staff to design this new youth leadership program.

NextGen Alumni Board

Since our founding, Beyond Differences® has had 114 Teen Board members graduate and become alumni from Portland, Oregon, Oakland/East Bay and Marin County, CA. These NextGen alumni have organized themselves into a Steering Committee and at-large member organization with an identified agenda of their own which demonstrates their continued passion for activism and the mission of Beyond Differences® to end social isolation and create cultures of belonging and inclusion.