Category: Empowering the People

Post-Incarceration Employment


The YWCA is an organization that supports and advocates for the well-being of the Carlisle community. Its official mission statement is to be “dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all”. For this project, we were given the opportunity to work with the YWCA to create a directory of employers that are willing to hire people that have been previously incarcerated. As we have learned, incarceration affects those who have imprisoned well after their sentences have ended. According to International Centre for Prison Studies (ICPS) , the U.S. imprisons more people than any other country in the world. In fact, the U.S imprisons 716 people for every 100,000 (Walmsley, 2015). Once those prisoners are released, they experience a second imprisonment in terms of being locked away from having the opportunity to better themselves. These ex-offenders are denied their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They are unable to secure jobs that allow them to be active members in society, which in turn renders them unable to receive health benefits, 401ks , and loans.


Our Methods

Employment discrimination is a national problem for the United States. This discrimination is the result mass incarceration. For our project, we focused specifically on how it affects Pennsylvania, more specifically Carlisle. However, Pennsylvania as a whole has countless legislation that employers fail to follow. In Pennsylvania, the law states that: “ Felony and misdemeanor convictions may be considered by the employer only to the extent to which they relate to the applicant’s suitability for employment in the position for which he has applied. (Community Legal Studies pg. 4)” That means that unless their crime has to do with the tasks associated with their job, then these ex-offenders should be given the opportunity to work. However, even from the beginning of our project we learned that is not the case.

Our first step in starting this project was to meet with Sonya Browne, the Hallmark Program Coordinator for the YWCA. When we met with her, we learned why she felt that there was a need for a directory of companies that would be willing to hire ex-offenders. Mrs. Browne knew of some members of the Carlisle community that were in the process of trying to find jobs after being released from prison. We decided that it would be beneficial to our project if we could have the chance to speak with these individuals. Mrs. Browne proceeded to set up a meeting time with two ex-offenders for the next week. On March 3rd, we met with the two ex-offenders and heard their stories. Their stories were moving, because at the end of the day the only thing on their minds was how they were going to provide for their families. When speaking with them, we were able to learn some specific problems they faced when searching for jobs, starting from not even being able to get an application to only being offered temporary jobs. We learned that some employers will allow them to go through the hiring process until they receive the results of their background check. After they receive the results noting their crime, employers will often end the process, leaving the ex-offenders hopeless.

One of the people we spoke to told us of one instance where he was completely set to begin his first day of work and on the morning of, as he was walking out the door he received a call telling him that he no longer had a job. He also told us of the false hope ex-offenders receive when they are hired by temp agencies that have no plan of keeping them on staff for more than a year. This is especially problematic because for most companies, it takes up to 6 months for a worker to finish their probationary period and actually receive the benefits associated with their position. The other person we spoke with told us that she had been able to find a job, but that it was infeasible because it was located in Maryland, which would mean she had to drive two hours to get to work everyday. After speaking  with them more, I learned that some ex-convicts cannot even get a job flipping burgers at fast food restaurants because even they rely on background checks during the hiring process. At the end of our conversation, what was most salient was the fact that many companies lead these people on wild goose chases, promising employment and then pulling out at the last second. This fact molded our approach to this project.

We approached the project by first creating a list of questions that we would ask companies once we called them. We then put that list into a script, so that we knew what to say every time we called .We started each call by saying “Hi my name is____ and I have a couple questions about your hiring process in regards to ex-felons.” This one sentence was the start of a difficult process. Depending on how “non-discriminatory” the company wanted to seem, they would either transfer us to HR or tell us right away that they didn’t discriminate. One of the most frustrating calls was to a warehouse in Mechanicsburg. When we called, after a couple of rings one woman picked up and said “Hold on let me transfer you to our HR office”. And so we waited and once we were transferred, the woman who picked up said ” Hold on, let me transfer you to corporate”. Come to find out, she had transferred us back to the original woman. After that, the two women continued to play ping-pong with our call. At the end, we ended up just being sent to voicemail.  When we went to our second calling session, we met the same disappointment. Although we were met much disappointment, we did encounter a few helpful people. There was one session where we called another warehouse; the hiring manager was very helpful. He answered all of our questions without giving us a hard time. We were finally able to ask the questions that we had formed after speaking to the ex-offenders. We asked him the following questions:

  •   Is there a specific period of time that has to have passed between their release date and when they can be hired?
  • What are the minimum qualifications needed for someone to be hired ?
  • Do they need special skills?
  • What types of criminal records are accepted or excluded ?
  • Does the applicant need to include anything with the resume or application?
  • What type of positions are generally available?
  • Can you accommodate people on probation that may have a curfew?
  • Is the application online ?
  • Do you need a  recommendation ?

He told us that everything depended on a case-by-case basis. Overall, the response by companies had been a real disappointment. It is really hard to even find a list of companies to call.



The Implications

It wasn’t until Janaiya and I met with two people from the Carlisle community that were previously incarcerated that we really understood the severity of the issue in a community that we’re so close to. They explained to us the trouble and the obstacles they have face when trying to re-enter society. Here were two people who are really trying to provide for themselves and their families and they can’t because of this blemish on their resume. To take on this project, Janaiya and I had to gain their trust. Like Howard McGary expresses in “Racism, Social Justice, and Interracial Coalitions”, Black people have to gain the trust of their people in order to be legitimized in a movement, and so we gained their by just sitting and talking with them. They told us how the employer would lead them on to think they had he decision to be rescinded because of their background check. Instead of re-entry, what they end up experiencing is isolation. It is a continuing cycle of isolation; when they are imprisoned they are cut off from civilization, their families, and their loved ones. When they get out, the expectation is that they will be able to just rejoin their close community and their greater society, but it doesn’t happen so smoothly.

With that in mind, we set out to find employers in Carlisle and the surrounding areas that would hire ex-offenders. We found the companies by Googling what companies exist in Carlisle and then we called them to ask them questions about hiring ex-offenders. I knew that this would be a difficult task. I didn’t get real answers from most places, and so the other times that we worked on the project we Googled companies that hire ex-offenders in Pennsylvania. Some of them worked out and some didn’t. I noted warehouses would answer our questions and offered us advice. The company Central Transport was really helpful and gave us good tips on how an ex-offender could be hired by their company. He explained that in order to have the best chance for employment that the past offender would have to be upfront and honest about their conviction. Also he suggested that on the application where they are asked about their offense that the applicant tell everything because that is what the employer sees first. I had those moments when I felt really good and had good conversations but there were also moments where company didn’t even try to listen to us. I contacted a moving company and began with our usual introduction and then proceeded to ask about their hiring policies. The woman seemed very unsettled just talking to me after I explained that I’m asking about hiring when it comes to ex-offenders. Her answer to my question, “does your company hire ex-offenders?” was explicitly no. She then went on to explain that it is because they are a moving company and they directly go into people’s homes. I just said ok, and got off the phone because I couldn’t believe she implied that all ex-offenders are thieves. It was in that moment that I realized how stigma really works against those who were previously incarcerated. I wonder if outcomes would be different if the ex-offenders were educated but we couldn’t even get that far into the conversations with employers to discuss that. Overall, we only had a few places, like Ace Hardware, and Central Transport, that were willing to speak to us and look into hiring ex-offenders and the rest continue to contribute to the discrimination of past offenders.

Sociologist Erving Goffman focuses on the concept of stigma. He breaks stigma into different categories but within these categories there is either a discredited attribute or a discreditable attribute. A discredited attribute cannot be seen initially but can be uncovered which would then lead to stigma. A discreditable attribute is something that is clearly visible, like skin color physical disability (Goffman, Stigma: Notes on the Management of a Spoiled Identity). Because, these things are visible then they are automatically subject to stigma. Being an ex-offender is a discredited attribute but is quickly uncovered when applying for employment, hence why it is difficult for ex-offender to find a job because they face stigma. According to the NAACP Criminal Justice fact sheet, the U.S is only 5% of the world population and has 25% of world prisoners. To imagine that many people having a difficult time finding employment is disheartening since a job is essential to being able to afford a quality life.



There is still a long way to go to eliminate the stigma that has been placed on ex-offenders in the Carlisle and surrounding communities. The biggest issue is that most companies are simply uncomfortable even talking about their hiring processes for ex-offenders. That being said, the future of this project seems bleak based off the results that we have gotten so far. Because Carlisle is a small town, it is difficult to find many places that are not difficult to access through local transportation. Companies need to approach each offender on an individual basis instead of stereotyping them as unfit and incompetent. The YWCA and its volunteers should continue to hold these companies accountable to not only the law but their claims of being non-discriminatory. Due to the limitations of this project, we were not able to assess the skills that past offenders in Carlisle may have. This information would influence the employers that we contacted. To further expand this project, we suggest reaching out to past offenders, getting to know what skills they possess, and work with them on resume building so that they can present themselves to the employer in a holistic fashion.

Company Address Background Check? Online Application? Notes
Best Western  1155 Harrisburg Pike, Carlisle, PA 17013


Company did not answer Company did not answer HR is only available on Mondays at 10:00 am
Dollar Tree 650 E High St #640, Carlisle, PA 17013


Yes Yes No special process
Allen Distribution 670 Allen Rd, Carlisle, PA 17015


Company did not answer Company did not answer Company did not answer
NFI Warehouse 1605 Shearer Dr, Carlisle, PA 17013


Company did not answer Company did not answer Company did not answer
Carlisle Self Storage


1910 W Trindle Rd, Carlisle, PA 17013


Yes N/A No open positions currently.
American Red Ball Moving Company 1235 Ritner Hwy, Carlisle, PA 17013


N/A N/A Company does not hire ex-felons at all.
Ace Hardware  

4072 Carlisle Rd, Dover, PA 17315

Yes Yes Company says that it depends on what the felonies are , everything is on a case by case basis

Recommended Readings and Links


  • Goffman, Erving. Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice-Hall, 1963. Print.
  • McGary, Howard. “Racism, Social Justice and Interracial Coalitions”. Race and Social Justice. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 1999. Print.
  • Walmsley, Roy. “World Prison Population List.” Institute for Criminal Policy Research (2015): n. pag. Web.

Gather the Women Program

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The YWCA is a national organization whose mission is to “eliminate racism and empower women.” It has many branches including one in Carlisle, PA. Within this branch of the YWCA, Mission Impact Director Sonya Browne created the Gather the Women program as a means to uphold the mission of the organization. Gather the Women is a program where women of different socioeconomic and social backgrounds come together on a bi-weekly basis and act as a support system for one another. The program is “[a]n economic advancement program for women with limited financial resources designed to guide them toward personal growth and economic advancement” (YWCA). This program tackles issues of economic and gender inequality by creating a space where women can hold each other accountable through goal-setting and group discussions. The Gather the Women program is important for the Carlisle community because it provides a means for women to have accessible emotional support.

Family Responsibilities Discrimination:


Resume Template

The process by which we worked on the resumes was that we asked the women to provide a list of previous employment or a resume. From there we began typing their employment as well as their basic information, such as their name and address. We provided resume templates from Microsoft Word for the first woman we worked with, but that was very intimidating for her to see. Because it was already intimidating to apply for a job, the next time we worked with someone, we did not use a resume template.

After we typed the employment, we asked questions about what the women did so we could cater their past duties to the job they were applying for. As we worked with the women, we made conversation with them. We were able to get to know the women beyond their resumes. It was very important for us to see the women as humans and not just a project that we were working on. It’s crucial to connect with the women and show them that we do care about them.

An interesting point that one of the women brought up was that motherhood should count as employment due to the skills and work it takes to be a single mother. The government assistance that is provided is not enough to support a single mother. It is difficult to enter the workforce as a single mother because you aren’t sure whether or not to be honest about your availability due to childcare. Even in meeting us for the resume building, one of the women had to have Sonya Browne watch her daughters, while we worked. Whether or not to disclose information about being a mother is not very clear for most women. Many women, including the one that we worked with, are not sure if it is something to talk about during an interview, but there is actually a protection from discrimination for parents with family responsibilities. Family Responsibilities Discrimination (FRD) protects individuals from employment discrimination based on family caregiving responsibilities, but there isn’t federal law which protects parents. ” FRD does not exist in any statute (only Alaska and the District of Columbia have laws that specifically bar discrimination based on family responsibilities)” (Bergen, 2). Although there is no federal statute that protects individuals from discrimination, The Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, ERISA, Equal Pay Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and other statutes provide protection for employees and hires.  It’s important for single mothers to know that when they are trying to enter the workforce, they are protected from discrimination based on motherhood and are not required to give information about their family or childcare.

Entering the workforce as a single mother is difficult because women have to manage the household and provide for their children by working. Not enough credit or support is given to single mothers and it is important that access to resources, such as resume building, is available so that single mothers can support their families.

-Mergitu Yadeto ’18

Gender Inequality:

The initial methodology of my service-learning project was to create a presentation that I could present to the members of Gather the Women. I had to create a presentation that would be relevant and useful to the different financial backgrounds of each member. Through my efforts to aid Gather the Women, I created a PowerPoint presentation on budget construction. My plans were diverted after further organizing with the program coordinator; she recognized that the women would be better helped through one-on-one interactions. My project partner and I waited for the women to reach out to us and ask for help on their resume and/or budget. Unfortunately, none of the women in the program needed help with their budget, but two women (I will call them TG and JF for the sake of anonymity) did reach out for help on their resume. My partner and I worked together to help each woman with her resume. The meetings were helpful for TG and JF because we created a new resume, but also had discussions on how they could market their skill sets. Both women were apprehensive about re-entering the workforce, but financially needed a new source of income. By working with TG and JF, the implications of gender inequality were brought to the forefront because we had conversations about motherhood and how a lot of their previous jobs were in the health care field.

Though I learned a lot from both women, by working with TG, I was able to understand the realities of gender inequality. When TG became a mother she took time away from the workforce in order to take care of her children. TG sought out our help because she wanted to be prepared for an upcoming job interview. As my project partner and I helped her write her construct her resume we discussed her future exploits and she shared her concerns with us. She was nervous because she had not worked in a while; she wished that motherhood were a job that could be put on her resume. This sentiment is an issue that women of all races face. Scholars and policy makers are trying to address the lack of recognition that stay-at-home mothers receive. “Most people visualize ‘unpaid care work’ as work done, primarily by women, to care for family members: cooking, cleaning, and shopping … These activities deserve special attention because they should, in principle, be included in measures of [GDP], but are poorly measured by most surveys” (Folbre, 186). “Unpaid care work” is work primarily done by women so TG has brought up an issue of gender inequality. Staying home and taking care of children is work that mothers are expected to do, so mothers seldom get recognition or benefits for this work. By incorporating “unpaid work” into the workforce, policy makers are paving the way for policies to be set where mothers can get better benefits for themselves and their family.

The YWCA and programs like Gather the Women act as evidence of the existence of gender inequality in the United States. From an economics perspective there is a need for the program because statistically women are at a disadvantage compared to men. For example, the gender pay gap in the US for women is seventy-eight cents to a man’s dollar. Since we worked with two Black women, naturally I focused on the disadvantages that Black women have, such as earning sixty-four cents to the white man’s dollar. “Furthermore, oppression in one sphere is related to the likelihood of oppression in another. If you are black and female, for example, you are much more likely to be poor or working class than you would be as a white male. Census figures show that the incidence of poverty varies greatly by race and gender” (Mantsios, 203). Black women are discriminated against at a higher rate because they have to deal with oppression associated with their womanhood and race. Their identities also influence their class, where they are most likely to be a part of the working class. While working with TG and JF, my project partner and I discussed their work experience in detail because we knew that they were at a disadvantage because they were Black women. It was important for us to make sure they had unique attributes on their resumes.

Our service work was established to combat gender inequality by helping women empower themselves. The women within the program are given the opportunity to develop the tools on how to create a resume and a budget. Through the process they will hopefully gain confidence to update their documents and finances on their own. They will learn how to promote the strengths of their past experiences. The two women that we had the honor of working with were truly an inspiration and motivation enough to end gender inequality so everyone can have a better quality of life.

-Bria Antoine ’16


Gather the Women is an environment where women learn useful skills for their own advancement. Through our experience working with the Gather the Women Program, we recognize that there is a need for this group within the community. Gather the Women creates a community of support that women can utilize since there generally is not a space for them within society. We focused on resume writing and budget construction to teach skills that are useful for women who do not have access to these resources. Resume writing and budget construction offer women the opportunity to become better equipped to enter the workforce and also construct a system where they are in control of their finances. In order to continue our project of skill building, Gather the Women should continue to affiliate with Dickinson College. Possible partnerships between Gather the Women, Dickinson College’s Center for Service, Career Center and Black Student Union can be formed so that students that are interested in this program can “tutor” the members of Gather the Women. Students can continue to meet with women to assist them with resume building. Gather the Women can take the budgeting presentation that was prepared and use that as a resource for women that would like to work on budgeting in the future. Also, templates could be made and provided to the women so that they could have a reference in the future. We believe that Gather the Women will be successful provided that everyone in the community is invested in its success.



Folbre, Nancy. “Measuring Care: Gender, Empowerment, and The Care Economy.” Feminist Economics. Volume 2. Households, Paid and Unpaid Work, and the Care Economy. 555-571. n.p.: International Library of Critical Writings in Economics, vol. 248. Cheltenham, U.K. and Northampton, Mass.: Elgar, 2011.

Mantsios, Gregory. “Class in America.” N.p.: n.p., 2012. 189-207. Print.

Bergen, C. (2008). “The Times They Are a-Changin”: Family Responsibilities Discrimination and the EEOC. Employee Responsibilities & Rights Journal, 20(3), 177-194.

Miller, A. L. (2014). The Separate Spheres Ideology: An Improved Empirical and Litigation Approach to Family Responsibilities Discrimination. Minnesota Law Review, 99(1), 343-379.

Men Overcoming Obstacles Mentoring Program


There is a crisis that exists in the Carlisle Area School District. While data will show that the graduation rate for the Carlisle Area High School is higher than the national average, this is not the truth for all the demographics represented. The dropout rate for young men of color at Carlisle Area High School is not only high but is increasing as each year passes by. To combat this pattern, students at Dickinson College have partnered with Carlisle Victory Circle (C.V.C) to aid the young men of Carlisle. C.V.C’s mission seeks to challenge young minds through youth development workshops, community service opportunities, and after school programs. The goal of these services seeks to assist the community’s youth with their personal and academic success. Carlisle Victory Circle once offered a youth male mentorship program that existed for one year as a means to assist and encourage young males within the Carlisle CommIMG_4551unity. Although it had tremendous success, the program was discontinued due to a variety of circumstances. However, with the help of Ms. Sonya Browne, Quadrese Glass, Teryon Lowery, and Karl Lyn, the youth male mentorship program has been resurrected. Carlisle’s “Men Overcoming Obstacles” operates as a branch of Carlisle Victory Circle, and aims to provide male youth with leadership workshops, after school tutoring, and a space for self-reflection. With the assistance of C.V.C and Dickinson College, Men Overcoming Obstacles will help these young men gain access to facilities and education of which some youth are deprived. Carlisle Community members lack access to resources, support, and knowledge that are allocated to other communities. As Carlisle Victory Circle has already implemented a program for young women, GirlPower!, Men Overcoming Obstacles will help apportion resources, such as a two story house and educational amenities to male youth as an initiative for social justice. This program will achieve this mission through a series of measures such as leadership workshops, community service opportunities, guest speakers, college visits, and homework tutoring sessions.


The Clubhouse at 368 W. North St.

By working with Carlisle Victory Circle to create this male youth mentorship program, I have understood the myriad of injustices that prevail within marginalized communities such as lack of resources and educational deprivation. However, I also understand the ways in which justice can be restored within these communities. Before I began the process of establishing Men Overcoming Obstacles, I decided to research the necessity and significance of executing such an idea. My research consisted of analyzing statistical data on male youth outcomes, reviewing successful and unsuccessful accounts of similar mentorship programs, and community outreach within the Carlisle community I wish to serve. These modes of research served as a basis for developing Men Overcoming Obstacles. The statistical data that I gathered from the Pennsylvania Census Bureau and Carlisle Area School District corroborated the national trend that minority youth are prime victims of social and educational underachievement. In addition to this information, when I conversed with Carlisle community members around 149 W. Penn street about a potential youth mentorship program, I became aware of aIMG_4556 few sentiments that pervade the community’s minority male youth such as low self-esteem, difficulties with identity construction, and alienation. These realities that my research illuminated are not reflections on the individual community members, but rather a reflection on the impact of structural inequality and social injustice. In his article, Understanding Cultural Diversity and Learning, Professor John Ogbu delineates the ways in which individuals are subjected to injustices according to their individual identities. He states, “Structural forces such as gender, class, and ethnicity circumscribe one’s opportunities” (Ogubu 2). Ogubu’s assertion that components of one’s identity can limit one’s access to opportunities is indicative of Carlisle community members’ experiences. The young males that I spoke with in Carlisle were predominately Black and Latino males. I found that these youth lacked opportunities and developmental resources such as educational support, counseling, career guidance, and spaces for social engagement. My overall research revealed that a male youth mentorship program established in Carlisle is pivotal, and will be able to serve as a social justice intervention plan.

After recognizing that a youth male mentorship program could yield justice to Carlisle community members who lack opportunities and resources, I began periodically meeting with two of my colleagues who are also attached to this idea to coordinate, plan, and structure the program. As my colleagues and I collaborated on this project, it became clearer that a youth mentorship program was a means of reconstructing different forms of justice. The first form of justice that I sought to achieve was communal justice. In his book, Racism, African Americans, and Social Justice, Rudolph Alexander delineates communal justice as “consisting of individuals, groups, and organizations within society pursuing and promoting the common good” (Alexander 4). With Alexander’s delineation in mind, a question with which I grappled was who decides this “common good” and will it truly be for the benefit or interest of an entire community. Instead of my group and I imposing what we believe to be a benefit to the community, I decided to speak with community members about what they would like to see in their community and in a youth mentorship program. This outreach was a way for community members to construct their own ideas of communal justice according to their individual subjectivities. My colleagues and I took these sentiments and subsequently integrated them in our ideas and plans for the program.


Computer Lab

In addition to communal justice, another form of justice that I considered was distributive justice. Alexander explicates distributive justice as “involving the responsibility through the government to allocate resources and burdens fairly” (Alexander 4). Due to the lack of resources from the government, I collaborated with my group members to think of ways in which we can help restore the distribution of resources. One of the resources that Men Overcoming Obstacles provides is a two-story house that serves as a space for social engagement, homework sessions, and community development. Within the house, we also provide resources such as computers, Microsoft office software, an array of books, and a kitchen for healthy cooking. In addition to distributing resources to the community, I also noticed there was an unequal distribution of knowledge amongst Carlisle’s youth residents. While, older people were aware of particular information and amenities that served for their individual advancement, the community’s youth were oblivious to those services. Knowledge about physical, mental, social, and sexual healthiness are a few subjects that parents within the community expressed that youth should be educated on. So in addition to the distribution of material resources, I also thought about ways in which I could distribute information and knowledge. I utilized Dickinson College’s campus resources such as the career center and wellness center by collecting their free brochures and placing them within the M.O.B house. These brochures will supply the youth with information that they do not typically have access to such as career guidance and health advice.

What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing                                                                                                                               ~ C.S. Lewis 

Alexander defines social justice as; the duty of privileged individuals to advocate for the well-being of those susceptible to injustice (2005). Being a college student at a Liberal Arts college, I have a sense of privilege. I have access to resources that others do not; therefore, I have a social responsibility to assist those experiencing injustice. Aside from what I could potentially dispense to the community, members of the community have knowledge that is relevant to my own learning process. By participating in service learning projects, one is exposed to an array of practical skills that college students often lack (Eifler, Kerssen-Griep and Thacker). Usually these skills are learned by the “organic intellectuals” of the community. They are individuals sometimes without a formal college education, yet are well versed in the “interest of their particular class” (Chrisman, 2013). Men Overcoming Obstacles aims to use the resources that are made available to Dickinson students, and gain insight from the Carlisle community on the interest and needs of its residents.


Quadrese’ at the Carlisle High School

We have been in conversation with Dickinson’s office of Student Life and Admissions, to discuss the process of inaugurating local students to the college experience. Even though these offices reported to us that they are unable to provide funding for the programming of Men Overcoming Obstacles, we were assured that we are free to use on campus spaces for Men Overcoming Obstacles’ activities. We are also in conversation with the Career Center, discussing the possibility of a representative speaking with the participants of Men Overcoming Obstacles. This talk we hope will expose the young men to a range of career opportunities that are available to them, and outline the current steps they can take in order to attain them. Furthermore, there are numerous Dickinson students who have expressed interest in participating in this program. After we receive further approval from C.V.C, establish a base participation group, and design volunteer applications, we will extend an invitation to those who are interested. Our method of consulting the resources that are readily available on Dickinson, which in turn we will use to support our community service initiatives, correlates to the assertion that this approach “[p]rovide[s] [a] multi-disciplinary assistance to communities…. that improve their…. environments” (Shelton, 2016). Because residents are equipped with resources that concentrates on specified areas in the community, they can use them in order to better the entire community.


Hope Station

Our first means of collaborating with the community was with Carlisle High School. We reached out to this school because of Carlisle Victory Circle’s previous relationship with them. We are currently waiting for the principal to give us clearance to recruit students. Until then, we are beginning to reach out to a local community organization, Hope Station, which has a strong connection with the youth in the community. Community organizations, like Hope Station, allows for organic intellectuals to interact with college volunteers. This interaction not only deepens one’s knowledge of the community, but volunteers also learn valuable skills (Eifler, et al 2008). In collaboration with Hope Station we aim to enhance their students’ availability to computers and our lack of students occupying the Clubhouse. Presently, Teryon, Karl, and I are in the process of creating a flyer. Our flyer will outline the programs that M.O.B offers and at upcoming community events, we plan to distribute them to community members in an effort to gain interest.

As a result of my experience in working with the community, I have come to understand social justice as an initiative tIMG_4565hat is multi-faceted. It requires multiple partners, from diverse backgrounds, who all share a similar vision for the community. Also, working for social justice is a process that is not easily achieved. While working to construct the components of Men Overcoming Obstacles, we were faced with many obstacles that seemed unsurmountable. We concluded that there was a need for the collaboration with organizations in the community in order to gather youth participants. With Men Overcoming Obstacles, we are combating the insufficient support that exists for the young men of color in the Carlisle community. We are providing a venue for these young men to express their grievances amidst a world that often mitigates their experiences.

If we don’t stand up for our children, then we don’t stand for much

~ Marian Edelman 

David Miller States in his work, Principles of Social Justice, “social justice is regarded as an aspect of distributive justice”, which is “the fair distribution of benefits among members of various associations” (Miller 2).  As we have already stated, hidden behind a mist of positive graduation rate statistics, there dwells an issue in the Carlisle Area School District. Young men of color are not finishing high school. While multiple factors attribute to this, it is evident that these young men are lacking encouragement to finish school. Men Overcoming Obstacles was created to combat the lack of focus on young men of color in Carlisle, PA. Women of color have similar issues yet they have specific organizations and programs that focus solely on encouraging them. In the same way that these programs, Carlisle Victory Circle’s GirlPower! and the Carlisle Girl Scouts, exercise positive academic, social, and leadership qualities in young women, we aim to do the same with young men. Our goal is to provide young men with academic support and encourage them to finish high school while also teaching them how to be better members of their community through tutoring, leadership workshops, community service, community engagement, and sustainability.

While each member of this group worked together on every aspect of this project, I focused primarily on the structuring of our program. To create a program that was not only unique but effective, I looked closely at similar programs and their positives and negatives. Through this method I realized that for this program to be an effective mentorship program, where the mentors and students would build healthy relationships, consistency is key. To ensure this a separate schedule and application was made for mentors that would be background checked as well as trained. Once the mentors are selected, they will have set days that they will be at the program. This will allow the students to become familiar with, and hopefully trust, the mentors. Another thing I realized is that many academic programs forget to incorporate community service and engagement into their programs. This program was created in the hopes of benefitting the community of Carlisle and thus we have decided to make community service, outreach, and sustainability apart of our core values.

The programs we hope to incorporate are as follows. We wish to set up a peer tutoring program. This would require that the older students come 30 minutes earlier to the program so that they would finish before the younger students and thus would be able to help them with their work. This would be the first step in teaching the students about leadership, community service, and mentorship. We believe that it’s important that these mentees will one day take what they learn from this program, the skills that we are trying to foster, and use it, so that if their is a lack of interest from Dickinson students,  they can keep the program operating themselves. Secondly, we wish to have leadership workshops led by trained mentors. We will critique what it means to be a leader, as well as have exercises that foster and engage leadership skills and qualities. We will also have community service obligations which will include, working at Hope Station, neighborhood cleanup, working at the Soup Kitchen, tutoring, and fundraising for other organizations. This will teach the students the importance of investing in one’s own community and will also be a way of allowing them to be on the giving and not receiving side of community service. This is important as it will show them that not only do they have a stake in their community but they are contributing to its progress. Finally, we wiIMG_4557sh to use the space outside our clubhouse to create a garden. As of know we do not know what we will grow but ideas range from a community garden to a food garden where we would sell our produce to the farmers’ market to help fund our program.

The outcomes of the program have been as following. We have a space for the program, we have community support, we have a mission statement, and we have applications for mentors. The issue that we have right now is that we do not have the students yet. To combat this we have shifted our recruiting ideology and have decided to go straight to the community to recruit students. In doing this we hope to show the community our dedication in helping these students. Through this project my ideology of social justice has altered. I used to be under the impression that social justice was about people helping others because they have more than them and are in a position to help. Now I understand it to be people helping people because they lack the basic resources and support that has been provided to other members of the community. Social justice is not a hobby; it is a necessity.

           Without education, you are not going anywhere in this world

~ Malcolm X


As a means to ensure that M.O.B is not a temporary program, there are several methods that we will employ to guarantee lasting success. Firstly, it is essential that a partnership with Dickinson College be maintained. Dickinson has the means to provide resources to the men of M.O.B that will complement its overall mission of youth development. From Dickinson, we will seek the assistance of their Career Center, Wellness Center, P.E.A.C, and the Dickinson Farm. M.O.B members too will have the opportunity to participate in on-campus activities, lectures, fairs, sporting events, and classes. In addition to maintaining a relationship with Dickinson, the advancement of mentees into mentors will be utilized to preserve the effectiveness of M.O.B. Also, the mentors will serve as a source of motivation for the matriculating group of young men. Additionally, communal interest is important for M.O.B’s sustainability. We will invite community members to a series of open houses and social gatherings held at the Clubhouse in order to continuously generate interest. Finally, representation of M.O.B and its constituents should be visible on the board of C.V.C. Representatives must have the vested interest of M.O.B in mind when they are deliberating on issues that could potentially modify the dynamics of the program. One area of representation will be fundraising. The representatives will fundraise for the programming of M.O.B as to mitigate any future instance of financial issues that may arise. These initiatives will serve to sustain the efficacy and integrity of M.O.B. Lastly, the use of C.V.C, as an ally will aid in the formation of communal connections. C.V.C is revered within the Carlisle community, so through collaboration with C.V.C, MOB will have a brand that the Carlisle Community is familiar with and trusts.



Alexander Jr, Rudolph. Racism, African Americans, and Social Justice . Lanham : Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. , 2005.


Chrisman, Robert. “Black Studies, the Talented Tenth, and the Organic Intellectual .” Black Scholar (2013): 64-70.


Eifler, Karen E., Jeff Kerssen-Griep and Peter Thacker. “Enacting Social Justice to Teach Social Justice: The Pedagogy of Bridge Builders.” Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice (2008): 55-70.


Sanon, Marie-Anne, Robin A. Evans-Agnew and Doris M. Boutain. “An exploration of social justice intent in phtovoice research studeis from 2008 to 2013.” Nursing Inquiry (2014): 212-226.


Shelton, Aimee J. “Implementing Community Engagment Projects in Classrooms.” Journal of  Higher Education Theory & Practice (2016): 61-67.


2016 YWCA Youth Leadership Conference: White Privilege


White Privilege |Wh·i·te|priv·i·lege| :

The concrete benefits of access to resources and social rewards, and the power to shape the norms and values of society which white people receive, unconsciously or consciously, by virtue of their skin color, in a racist society.

(Adapted from Oberlin College’s Multicultural Center Privilege and Allyship Pamphlet)


The official mission of the YWCA is “dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and girls, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all”. During the Week without Violence program, the YWCA organizes their annual Youth Leadership conference. The goal is to provide a unique opportunity to integrate a diverse group of students with the common goal of promoting justice within their respective school communities and personal lives. Usually, throughout the conference, the participants learn about racism, personal bias, and ways to be change agents. The students also learn how to promote respect and acceptance in daily behaviors, which will help empower peers in their schools. This upcoming conference’s theme is going to be “White Privilege”. We were assigned to construct the content as well as research engaging activities for the upcoming conference. Sonya Browne, who is the Mission Impact Director of YWCA, believed our group would bring a fresh perspective to the conference planning. By organizing a conference for students from across Cumberland County, we learned to appreciate how unique of an opportunity it is to come and discuss pertinent issues with peers. In the YWCA 2016 winter newsletter, Sonya Browne stated, “we must engage in ongoing self-assessment and awareness of how power differences affect our ability to be genuinely helpful. Committing to this process will bring about change, and that change will afford us the ability to denounce violence and injustice and stand in solidarity with marginalized and oppressed groups of people.” Our group had the opportunity to conduct intensive research about activities that will only live up to the YWCA’s mission of eliminating racism by providing a space for critical discussion that can make change agents in the Carlisle community.

Individual Student Entry (Kennedy):

After going from voter registration with the Hope Station, I was sent to work with Jahmel as a part of the YWCA in organizing their annual fall conference. Going from just asking people to sign up for voting to organizing and planning a conference for the youth, had me questioning my abilities as a leader. I was shocked that the YWCA entrusted two college students to organize a major conference that would include over 100 students from the Cumberland county, and discuss the effects of having White privilege. Apart from discussing race and race relations in America, I first had to understand how to create a conference and lead a conference. Working with the YWCA and Jahmel, I was forced to tap into my skills as a leader and researcher but also my personal experience being a young woman of Color in  America.

The first thing I had to figure out was how to define what white privilege is. What is White Privilege? Is the conference just limited to discussing white people? How could we make this conference an area of discussion without being an attack zone? Would students even come? How do you introduce race to students at 8 in the morning? How do you level the playing field of the discussed and those doing the discussing? All these thoughts ran through my head in the creation of this project, and some questions went unanswered while some answers led to more questions. If it were not for the help of Jahmel setting a framework for the conference, I would have not known where to start.

I knew I could not step in front of high school students in an academic setting and attack their experiences or invalidate their opinions, but what I could do is fight against the basic story line. Like we discussed in class, we cannot simply look at things through one lens, we have to take a  multi-layered approach to see a more holistic picture. Instead of focusing on only White privilege, we will open up the floor to discuss everyone’s privileges at the conference. By doing that we would be able to set a groundwork of trust and not exclude the white students in attendance to being the scapegoats. We will define White privilege to the students as “the concrete benefits of access to resources and social rewards, and the power to shape the norms and values of society which white people receive, unconsciously or consciously, by virtue of their skin color, in a racist society” (adapted from Oberlin College Multicultural Resource Center). In order to make this idea definite I pulled from Peggy McIntosh’s article White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. McIntosh was writing on learning about white privilege based off of her experience as a white women and growing up in an environment that gave her “no training in seeing[herself] as the oppressor” (1). I used the idea of McIntosh’s term of training as a leading tool in understanding how to address this topic. Like McIntosh expressed white privilege is an invisible knapsack.  While it hangs on the back of white bodies, it is invisible to them because they could not see it, so it is our mission to make them see it. I am going to have to define what white privilege is, what it means and also get not only White students to see their privilege but also everyone else to see theirs as well. If everyone addressed their privilege, sees their privilege and talks about it, we would be able to evaluate the impact of race and generate a conversation on how to end racism. Also, we would be able to discuss the intersectionality of race, class, gender and sex in ways that the students were not “trained” to think about because while White privilege focuses on race, privilege adds into the intersectionality of socio-economic factors.

By opening up the floor to discuss privileges, we are taking drawing on Kimberle Crenshaw’s well-known argument about the importance of intersectionality. In order to start the journey of white privilege, we have to exhibit the intersectionality of class, race, sex, and sexuality that impacts the power whiteness has on our society. While this topic is in no way tied to the Black Panthers or the Nation of Islam, it is tied to a more conscious America. We are using diplomacy and academia to question the validity and impact of White privilege. Through our work with the YWCA, we are creating this conference with the hopes to break the hysteria of talking about race in white spaces and look forward to White students being able to have a seat in a discussion that is centered around them. I know that this one conference will not cover everything and will most likely upset more students than please, but I know that they will benefit from it in the long run. By giving each student a space to speak freely without worrying about being told that their opinion does not matter or without having their experiences invalidated, we can change the narrative and tone about the status of race in America. We can unpack white privilege and get answers to questions that a lot of students are wondering and raise some questions that they did not think they had. We are not striving for a perfect or smooth conference but we are striving for knowledge to be gained and tolerance to be heightened.

Multimedia Example:

This is a video segment from MTV’s documentary, White People, that would supplement ignite a dialogue about White Privilege and the phenomenon of ‘reverse discrimination’:

Individual Student Entry (Jahmel):

For our project, the ultimate goal is to foster deep reflection on the impact white privilege has on their overall social interactions. Scholar Peggy McIntosh’s famous piece, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, models the type of self-reflection the conference wants to foster in the participants. As a group, our methodology included understanding the socio-cultural background of the participants. Through my bi-weekly service hours, used to constructing the leadership conference, I began to appreciate the ample amount of resources used to teach me about topics like White privilege through the Posse Foundation as a Posse Scholar. The difficult aspect of this service project is going to be translating this information to youth in high school, who may not have had exposure to topics of this nature. In my eyes, it is an exciting challenge to develop an undervalued skill to have in social justice work— to disseminate information to various demographics especially young people. I learned at the end of this research project how invaluable it is with including youth education in social justice work. If the youth can comprehend dense topics then anyone of any age could. Plus, they will be the new change agents to continue the work for the next generation.

The groups of high-school students come from different parts of the Cumberland County, with diverse sets of exposure to peers of different racial/ethnic backgrounds. This factored exponentially in our decision to include a section about terms and phrases like white privilege and racism. We want to equip the students with the terminology necessary to have a critical dialogue. Also, we took into consideration the need to make this critical dialogue interactive and intellectually safe for exploration for students because our society is not even well-versed in conversing on such a topic. We had to design activities that would not attack participants for an “invisible knapsack” of unearned socio-cultural benefits. Instead, we creatively sought to formulate activities that would instead highlight the collateral effect of racism called white privilege. We attempt to complete this feat by framing certain activities of self-reflection on their daily behaviors and privileges that spread across the spectrum from gender, class, sexuality, ableism, and race. The benefit allows students to create an idea of the host of privileges that permeate our society, which creates unwarranted marginalization of others. The facilitators will be explicit in focusing the conversation on race and white privilege in discussion question portions. Also, we considered different learning styles to transform the experience into learning a difficult topic by allowing for small group discussion time as well as a writing portion.

Throughout research, we believed having leading discussion questions as a big group will help guide the critical dialogue for the whole day. The four leading discussion questions for the conference we settled on exploring more depth throughout the conference are:

  1. What is whiteness?
  2. Are white people hurt by racism?  
  3. Can white people experience racism?
  4. What does it mean to be privileged?  
  5. Have you ever spoken about race? Especially with your family?  
  6. Can white people use their white privilege as a source of allyship with social justice initiatives by people of color?

So, the impact of each one of the questions depends upon the make-up of the small groups, where students can provide perceived “insight” on how white privilege and whiteness (or lack of) differs in their lives based on their racial/class backgrounds and geographic location.

Conclusion (critical reflection):

Young people do not have these daily conversations about power dynamics and social benefits that may be unconscious to them. If they do understand, they just accept it as norm since it has always been that way. The YWCA’s mission of dismantling racism starts with igniting crucial conversations about its by-product called white privilege. By providing young teens the space to explore what the implications of white privilege are, they will see the individual benefits and structural oppression affecting their peers. But also the space of self-reflection should question possible avenues to ally-ship in the fight to dismantle racism. It is a conference that has the potential to transformative and provides a basic level of understanding of a crucial portion of Racism—white privilege. They will understand their positionality to the inequalities that exist in our society and the marginalized communities unable to have equal opportunities and access provided by their citizenship. Our society has historically been fueled on white domination through racism. In response, the YWCA constructs this conference in order to conduct dialogue on topics that sustains racism in our society. Lastly, we think the conference could be expanded by holding the conference for two days due to time constraints on the students’ chance to dive deep into the material. And, the YWCA can utilize the relationships built at this conference to forge a positive connection with the school administration. This connection can lead to the school’s ability to track the development of the attendees and continue to inspire them to be change agents. The YWCA can encourage schools to use the students from the conference as student liaisons, who could give input on how to best move the school forward in a quest to combat marginalization and built acceptance at school.


Recommended Online Resources: ( a discussion guide about white privilege based on MTV’s documentary, White People) ( various resources to help sustain a dialogue around white privilege)


Hackman, Heather W. “Five Essential Components For Social Justice Education.” Equity & Excellence In Education 38.2 (2005): 103-109. Education Research Complete. Web. 2 May 2016.\

McIntosh, Peggy. “White Privilege: Unpacking The Invisible Knapsack.” Independent School 49.2 (1990): 31. Education Research Complete. Web. 2 May 2016.

“Privilege Walk,”—race.pdf?sfvrsn=2

“Privilege and Allyship Pamphlet,”


Empowering the People: Social Justice and the Dynamics of Racialized and Gendered Personhood

Frocropped-res.jpgm the enslavement period to contemporary times, many African Americans have mobilized to formulate social justice movements that demand the rights of full citizenship which the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution guarantee. In Justice and Grassroots Struggles, Loretta Capeheart and Dragan Milovanovic quote Doug McAdam’s argument that “[s]ocial movements are an expression of a desire for justice that has gone unmet. When those concerned for social justice, including equality, need, and/or desert, find that their demands are not considered or seriously addressed by the political structures in place, they will often turn to social mobilization in an attempt to be heard and/or attain justice” (160).  In their attempts to be heard, various African American social movement organizations, such as Black Lives Matter, have devised “ideological and political interventions” that demand the abolition of racist, sexist, and classist practices in this country that impact the viability of Black people and communities most directly.

The student reflections in this section highlight social justice initiatives that strive to empower various community constituents in Carlisle in the areas of racial and economic justice.  In particular, their projects address issue of power and privilege, the importance of mentoring Black male youth, the economic empowerment of Black women, and the employment challenges that African Americans who have been released from prisons face.


Capeheart, Loretta and Dragan Milovanovic.  Social Justice: Theories, Issues & Movements.  New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2007.