Are you passionate about social justice and connecting art with activism in the places around you?

Join a nine-month leadership program at Emerson College's Elma Lewis Center and Social Justice Collaborative to connect with young change agents across schools and neighborhoods throughout Boston. Step into a powerful and supportive peer-network this year.

The CCN Program:

  • runs from October to June annually
  • is open to grades 9 to 12 throughout Greater Boston
  • is a paid opportunity, students receive a stipend for participation

Program Overview

CCN is investing in the next generation of change agents as a fully-funded program that provides opportunities to advance leadership skills. This program aims to work with and support high school students who identify as BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and/or first-generation. Students and community members will collaborate together to generate creative community action projects.

As a cohort, we will explore topics including: systems of oppression, socialization, allyship, solidarity, liberation, art as activism, and more. In addition to experiential learning activities, students will participate in biweekly “practice circles” that are an opportunity for students to work together and offer peer support on challenges the group is navigating both individually and collectively.

Fully-Funded Program

CCN is tuition-free and participants will receive a $300 stipend per semester.

Program Schedule

Network Gatherings: Tuesdays 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.​ 

Program gatherings for the 2021 to 2022 program year are planned to be held both virtually and in person at the Elma Lewis Center. Participants must commit to missing no more than two program meetings during the year. CCN will observe holiday, February vacation, and April vacation breaks in accordance with the BPS calendar.


There are no residency requirements for participation. We welcome applications from students across Boston including: Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, East Boston, Chinatown, Jamaica Plain, Allston, and Brighton. Additionally, students in surrounding communities such as Revere, Everett, and Chelsea are encouraged and welcome to apply.

Application Information

Applications for the 2020-2021 program year are due by November 1, 2021. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

Contact Us

Questions? Contact our program coordinator Coco at 617-824-8927 or at coco_rosenberg [at] (coco_rosenberg[at]emerson[dot]edu)


Current Participants

  • Kayla Depina headshot
    CCN Participant

    Kayla has lived in Boston her whole life since 2005. She currently attends Boston Latin School as part of the class of 2023. There she explores her interests including literature, all types of art, and environmental science. She did not always like school but once she learned to accept and express herself unapologetically she began looking forward to it. Her favorite part of the day is when the bell rings at 2:15 and she gets to help put together outfits for a theatre show, paint the set, or connect with clubs focused on topics she is passionate about. She hopes to continue exploring and meeting people with similar interests this year through outside extracurriculars. Kayla may have been born and raised in Boston and has never traveled very far but she doesn’t plan on staying in America much longer. She looks forward to graduating high school and pursuing higher education in a different country. She has been eyeing Spanish-speaking countries specifically as she hopes to one day become fluent and loves experiencing other cultures.

  • Camarah Oates headshot
    CCN Participant

    Camarah, 17, is a photographer and a writer from Dorchester. With both Jamaican and African American blood, Camarah does not shy away from her two identities and their cultures. Instead, she incorporates things from both cultures in her writing, whether they be positive or negative. Doing so allows Camarah to feel closer to her cultures. Camarah hopes for justice for the black community in all aspects of life and wants to see black people be able to do anything without society hindering or harming them. Camarah aims to highlight inequalities in all aspects of life through her writing, in hopes to invoke feelings and eventually change. She also draws inspiration from the world around her, allowing her to not only process, but also inform about important topics. Camarah also enjoys reading, drawing, and playing video games.

  • Ayah Soltany headshot
    CCN Participant

    Ayah Soltany is a first generation American whose parents immigrated to America in the early 2000’s from Morocco. She is a junior at Revere High School. She hopes to extend her education in the future and attend medical school. Ayah aspires to help those in need in economically disadvantaged communities that cannot afford healthcare. In her free time, Ayah enjoys playing volleyball and swimming as well as volunteering weekly at the hospital. The mosque and gym are two places where she spends most of her free-time. She enjoys writing and helping others whenever she can.Ayah also enjoys taking her dog on walks by the beach to calm him down. Social activism is a huge part of Ayah’s morals. She strives to find equality and bring awareness to disadvantaged groups that are perceived in the wrong way because of the media. 

  • Jailene Montalvo headshot
    CCN Participant

    Jailene Montalvo is a 10th grade student from Hyde Park. She enjoys getting to know others and always does her best to help others in any way she can. One of Jailene’s favorite aspects of being a part of the CCN community is that she can communicate with other members and discuss different types of oppression such as racism and sexism. She is also appreciative that she can work with the other members to find ways to alleviate such issues. Some of her favorite hobbies include drawing, painting, listening to music and doing other crafts. One of Jailene's favorite subjects is French or language in general - including German, Korean, Chinese and Italian - which she studies in her free time. She is also very interested in learning about biology and other sciences as well as math due to her desire to obtain a career in the medical field. This also stems from the fulfillment of helping others.

  • Condoleezza Dorvil headshot
    CCN Participant

    Condoleezza Dorvil is 16 years old. She was born in Haiti but immigrated to the United States when she was just 5 years old. She and her family settled in the Boston area, specifically Lynn, Massachusetts. At a young age, Condoleezza fell in love with painting and drawing, She even has an Instagram page where she displays her art for others to see. Mental health is very important to her and she actively spreads mental health awareness and the importance of self care and loving yourself. She prides herself in being a mental health and self love advocate. Her activism is displayed on her social media platforms. Academically, she is a very motivated and resilient student. She knows what she wants, and sets clear goals to get there. Growing up as a person of color and living in a low income community has taught her to be confident and strong; but also woke to the injustices and difficulties that other P.O.C and low income populations also face. 

  • Laurelyn Newsome headshot
    CCN Participant

    Laurelyn is a bisexual woman who grew up in many different towns and cities across Massachusetts. The eldest of 4 children, Laurelyn often helps care for her disabled mother, two sisters and one younger brother. A lover of all the various areas of science, medicine, astronomy and engineering, they frequently make appearances as central themes of her graphic art pieces and writing. A horror, fantasy and anime aficionado, she can frequently be found watching, reading and playing a variety of different games, movies, shows and novels of these genres. Laurelyn also loves to spend her time playing her cello and fencing. Though her idea of a perfect night involves some hot tea, a bonfire and a good scary movie. 

  • Chawanzi Muwina headshot
    CCN Participant

    Chawanzi is a black non-binary immigrant from Zambia. They are interested in making their school more equitable for current students of color and future students of color. Chawanzi is also interested in continuing doing this work in the future through college and beyond. They are interested in creating art (through creative writing) that addresses the oppression that they face. They want to write films, and make poetry collections that will also explore their mental health with their identities. Chawanzi also enjoys watching tv shows, anime and listening to music (their current favorite artist is Mitski). Chawanzi hopes to learn from and grow with all the other CCN members. 

  • Akilah Villers-Jean headshot
    CCN Participant

    She is from Dorchester, MA and has lived there all her life. She loves reading art and taking walks outside. She enjoys poetry, drawing, painting, and photography. She sees art as a way to express herself, and finds it a helpful way to process emotions. Family is important to her and she loves spending time with them and goofing off. She is biracial and has struggled with her identity in the past but now feels more confident after years of working on herself. She is passionate about social change and hopes to make an impact in people's lives someday. She has struggled with mental health for much of her life as well as witness people around her struggle with it as well and hopes that she can help people who struggle with it. She recognizes the many of the problems with United States' systems and enjoys talking about them and educating others.

  • Axly Nolasco headshot
    CCN Participant

    She, her, hers. My name is Axly. I am Latina, born in Manhattan, New York. My parents are originally from Dominican Republic. My interests consist of reading, writing, and cooking. I love fashion design and wish to join an industry one day. CCN has helped me work toward my dream in helping communities like mine express their self identity. Being a part of the CCN program has also taught me to never be afraid in expressing who I truly am and feeling more confident. Being a part of the CCN program has helped me understand other youth teens like myself adapt to their environment and commit to their communities by helping one another out and impact their lives positively. Being a part of my community has helped me evolve and become a more open person. 

  • Felicia Selbst headshot
    CCN Participant

    Felicia (she/they) is a junior at Beaver Country Day School, where she is involved in student activities and is a passionate artist. This February Felicia won a Gold Key and is an American Visions Nomination for her sculpture Full English Breakfast. While being a fully remote student last year, she took advantage of her resources and decided to learn how to sculpt hot sugar to create highly realistic sculptures of food. Felicia loves communicating through art (visual art, costume design, wood working, and creative writing). During their freshman year of high school, she made a popular 3D art piece that was featured in their school. Felicia named the piece “the Diversity of Us.” They made it with the goal of showcasing how diverse we all are, yet also how similar.