The Inaugural Bridge Builders Youth Action Summit

A national convening by and for youth organizers for social change

Feb. 22-25, 2018, in Memphis, TN

This invitational “unconference” will be an unparalleled opportunity for diverse young change makers from across the country to share and learn from one another’s work, elevate youth voice, and increase the impact of youth action on a national scale.

We need your voice! We’re calling on youth leaders and their organizations to share with us how YAS2018 can serve and support your local work through national collaboration. Let’s grow the inaugural Bridge Builders Youth Action Summit together!

Email us at

Meet Our Official YAS Partners

We’re constantly updating, so check back often for new additions!

Thanks To Our YAS Sponsors & Supporters

To inquire about supporting YAS, please email

Why Memphis? Why now?

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Memphis on April 4, 1968. MLK50: Where Do We Go from Here? is a yearlong commemoration and call to action for civil rights, faith, civic and community leaders across the nation.

We believe youth voice must be rooted at the center of the national conversation as Americans wrestle with that sobering imperative: “Where do we go from here?”

At a time when global attention and energy will be focused on Memphis, youth will have an unprecedented opportunity to share widely the findings and expressions of the Bridge Builders Youth Action Summit.

“Young people are critical to resolving the nation’s most daunting problems.”
– President Barack Obama, April 2017

YAS Values

  • #YAS2018 will be an inclusive space for youth from across the country who are interested in leading social change through organizing, advocacy and artistic expression.
  • Youth voice and youth/adult equity are core practices to both the design and content of YAS.
  • Youth will design and facilitate the summit’s learning content based on participatory action research conducted among all participants in the year leading up to the event.
  • The exploration of intersectionality will be an overarching frame for this multi-issue space.

YAS Goals

  • To provide an opportunity for the exchange and documenting of field experiences, innovation, tools, and best practices for youth organizers from around the country. This will lead to co-creation and distribution of a collective multimedia presentation and report on best practices of engaging youth voice and advocacy.
  • To design and curate creative content that elevates youth voice and activates civic engagement amongst high school youth in 2018 and beyond.
  • To co-create in partnership a sustainable, national digital network/research database platformfocused on the exchange of insight and social justice work experience of high school organizers.
  • To explore the formation,in partnership with other groups, of a Mid-South organizing regional hub based on the experiences of other youth-led social change organizations across the region, with input from organizations in California, the Southwest, and other regions.

YAS Venues

The Jim Boyd BRIDGES Center: Thursday afternoon/evening activities and dinner as well as Sunday morning closing program will be held at the Bridge Builders headquarters, called the BRIDGES Center.

The Halloran Centre for the Performing Arts & Education: This brand new venue will be the Summit’s home for Friday and Saturday. It includes a large theater and dance, art, and workshop spaces.


YAS Accommodations 

Comfort Inn and SheratonParticipants will be housed at one of two hotels in downtown Memphis. We will provide daily transportation between venues and hotels.


Meet Our Official YAS Advisors

Check back often for new additions!

Strategic Partnerships Advisor Taj James
Taj James is the founder and Executive Director of Movement Strategy Center. He’s helped launch and support alliances like Strong Families, Climate Justice Alignment, California Fund for Youth Organizing, Move to End Violence Initiative, California Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, and Building Healthy Communities. Before launching MSC in 2001, Taj served as the Director of Youth Policy and Development at Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth and as the Western Regional Field Organizer for the Black Student Leadership Network, a project of the Children’s Defense Fund. Taj has written extensively on the topics of movement building, organizational change, and on the role of young people in social change.

Lead Technology Advisor Vivian Graubard
Vivian Graubard is the director of strategy for Public Interest Technology at New America. Prior to joining New America, Graubard worked at the White House under President Obama where she was a founding member of the United States Digital Service and also served as a senior advisor and chief of staff to the United States Chief Technology Officer. There, her work focused on the intersection between technology and policy implementation, particularly on issues affecting vulnerable communities. Graubard has been named to TIME’s “30 People Under 30 Who Are Changing the World,” and believes in diversity in tech and beyond.

Strategy & Communications Advisor Justin Porter
Justin Porter is currently Justice Fellow at the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala. He graduated from Harvard in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Public Policy, and he completed a capstone project on political representation and the water crisis in Flint, Mich. On campus, he was involved with the Social Innovation Collaborative, Black Men’s Forum, and Hiphop Archive and Research Institute. Before joining EJI, Justin served as a corps member for the education nonprofit City Year and facilitated dialogue about public education and the criminal justice system for the Anna Deavere Smith Pipeline Project. As an aspiring writer, Justin firmly believes in the power of words to shift hearts and minds.

Culture & Media Advisor Q’orianka Kilcher
Kilcher is not only an award-winning actress, but also an accomplished singer-songwriter, committed human rights and environmental activist, and fearless young force who, since the age of 16, has courageously and tirelessly used her public voice and privilege of celebrity to speak out for the voiceless. Her work in support of basic human rights, social and environmental justice, corporate accountability and the rights of indigenous peoples has garnered her many national and international nominations, awards and honors, including the Young Hollywood Green Award, the Gandhi Award, and the prestigious Brower Youth Award. Kilcher and her two brothers, Xihuaru and Kainoa Kilcher, founded the nonprofit Action Hero Network.

Youth Entrepreneurship & Civic Engagement Advisor Jordan Howard
With a decade of experience bridging gaps between youth, nonprofits, and corporations, Jordan is a social good strategist who pushes brands to think differently around engaging the next generation. With a focus on program development, marketing, and storytelling, the intersections of her work are in environmental sustainability, education, health and wellness and politics. From working with the U.S. State Department, Intel, Warner Bros., Hulu, Global Citizen, Creative Artists Agency, and Casey Family Programs, her quest to bridge the gaps that prevent brand engagement based on authenticity and culture has only just begun.

Youth Coalition Building Advisor Amanda Milagro Gallegos
At the age of 19, Amanda has already accomplished a lot in the arena of youth organizing. Born and raised in the North Valley of Albuquerque, N.M., she grew up deeply ingrained in her Chicano/Mexican roots, farming on her grandparents’ land. She joined the SouthWest Organizing Project in 2010 and became the youth organizer there in February of 2017 and development coordinator this year. Amanda led the largest ever youth employment program in New Mexico, helped write a Student Bill of Rights, and has planned and executed several local and national conferences.

Art, Culture and Movement Strategy Advisor Anasa Troutman
As a cultural strategist, producer, and CEO of Culture Shift Creative, Anasa has dedicated her life and work to the importance of culture and the power of love. She’s based in Memphis and founded Groovement/EarthSeed Music, a successful record label and collective of visionary musicians, performers, and writers. Anasa is best know for her work as the long time friend, thought partner and executive producer for India.Arie, but she’s worked with many artists and organizations to intensify the strategic impact of art on social and political realities and was invited twice to the White House by the Obama administration to advise on cultural policy.

Plans for #YAS2018 are still taking shape.

Join our mailing list now to ensure you don’t miss a single update.