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Launched in 2020, the Young Scholars Program (YSP) is a multi-phased research and leadership opportunity that organizes a cohort of young Black women and girls to develop their research and policy analysis skills. The program operates from the principle that young women are the best informants and intermediaries to shape experience-based support systems, guidance, and mentoring for the next generation of Black girl leaders. The first phase of YSP begins with a six-week remote summer program during which AAPF researchers work alongside YSP participants to develop a multidisciplinary and intersectional approach to assessing the conditions of Black girls’ lives. 

In addition, the summer program introduces the Young Scholars to Black feminist thought, critical race theory, and intersectionality as theoretical frameworks and analytical tools for the study of Black women’s and girls’ lives. Participants then have the opportunity to propose, interpret and present research with Black girls and women, and coordinate reviews of research results. As a research collective, they also engage with notable guest speakers active in intersectional research, Black feminist praxis, organizing, and advocacy work on behalf of Black girls and women. 

During daily sessions, the Young Scholars critically reflect on their own lived experiences, multiple identities, and current events. By the end of the six-week research session, scholars will have the theoretical and methodological training to carry out an array of critical projects, including:

  • Developing and implementing research projects that advance racial justice, gender equity, and Black girl praxis. 

  • Examining the ways in which Black girls and women thrive and resist in the face of policing in schools, state-sanctioned violence, a public health pandemic, interpersonal violence, and sustained economic adversity.

  • Interpreting the individual power and collective agency of Black girls to shape policy discourse going forward.


Upon completion of the summer research program (phase one), AAPF Young Scholars may be invited to participate in YSP as Young Scholar Ambassadors (YSAs)--continuing to promote intersectional research and praxis through  advocacy, mentorship, and critical intellectual inquiry. During the second phase, YSP ambassadors can build on their research experience by advising other student research initiatives,  counseling other young scholars, and assisting with planning additional AAPF programs. They can also explore opportunities to present their research to broader audiences. And throughout their year-long tenure, YSP participants and alumni may be afforded the opportunity to work closely with AAPF staff.

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