Kentucky Students Mark a Decade of Education Research, Policy, and Advocacy

For over 10 years, young people in Kentucky have passed legislation, restored funding and amplified stories that are building a more just and equitable publication education system in the Commonwealth.

Media Contact:

Rachel Belin, Managing Partner, Kentucky Student Voice Team
rachel@ksvt.org  | (859) 396-6362 

Lexington, KY— The Kentucky Student Voice Team (KSVT) is celebrating 10 years of  youth-led education research, policy, and advocacy as Kentucky’s student-led, education advocacy organization.

The Kentucky Student Voice Team (KSVT) was launched in the fall of 2012 by a small group of high school students in partnership with the Prichard Committee, an adult-led education advocacy group, with the goal of integrating young people into its school improvement efforts. In January 2021, KSVT grew  to become its own independent nonprofit.

“KSVT  offers a collective space for students to join together in supporting ourselves and our peers in our Kentucky schools through youth-led research, policy, and storytelling,” says Cadence Brown, Marshall County High School senior and  KSVT board president and cross-organizational coordinator. “Everything we do is about amplifying and elevating the voices of young people who are least heard in our school system to push for education justice and ensure that we are building a community and culture that replicates the safer, more democratic  world we envision.”

KSVT generates both local and national recognition for student-driven innovation and collaboration that seeks to promote more just and democratic schools. In addition to designing and coordinating an array of programming initiatives, self-selected student members comprise the majority of the organization’s board and help make decisions about everything from development and  budgeting to compensation and governance.

Since inception, KSVT’s youth leaders have collected an astounding number of accolades and led campaigns that garnered local and national media attention, including:

  • Leading the “Powerball Promise” Campaign, successfully restoring $14 Million that had been diverted from the state lottery to support need-based college scholarships;
  • Authoring  Ready or Not, Stories Behind the Statistics, a book documenting their year of interviewing students around Kentucky about their struggles to navigate education and life after high school; 
  • Conducting student-led investigations and evaluations of school climate, focusing on classroom culture, belonging, and safety;
  • Producing over  100 opinion pieces for top tier national  media outlets amplifying the reality of Kentucky students;
  • Advocating for  student representation in school governance, advancing the passage of a law protecting the seat of the sole student member of the Kentucky Board of Education with the “Save Our Seats” campaign;
  • Publishing  the Coping with Covid Student-to-Student Study and the Race to Learn Report, quantitative and qualitative research studies that together collected over 20,000 responses from middle and high school students in every Kentucky county about two particularly pressing education issues; and
  • Launching The New Edu, a journalism service for which students are trained and paid to serve as education news and issues reporters.
“The  Kentucky Student Voice Team has a lot to show for a decade of youth-led work,” says Andrew Brennen, KSVT Board Chair, who helped found the group when he was a student at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington. “When we started, it was a novelty for students to be in the room where education decisions that affect them happen–in places like committees, school board meetings, professional development conferences and legislative hearings. But ten years in, many more people in these education spaces now see it as an absolute necessity to partner with Kentucky  students themselves. We’d like to think we had a little something to do with that.”
About Kentucky Student Voice Team

The Kentucky Student Voice Team (KSVT) is an independent, statewide, 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2012 by young people from across the Commonwealth. As a collective of young people, KSVT is on a mission to co-create more just, democratic Kentucky schools and communities as research, policy & advocacy partners. Learn more about the organization at KSVT.org or following on social media at @kystuvoiceteam. 

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