Activate New Orleans: Racial Justice & Beloved Community

Don’t just learn about justice — do justice!

Black Lives Matter! ….and how shall we respond as Unitarian Universalists to the call for racial justice? This one-week training for high school youth offers interactive social justice education and meaningful hands-on work with local organizations building a thriving New Orleans. In a program grounded in UU values and practices, participants will engage issues of race and class against the unique backdrop of New Orleans. Together we will develop skills for producing social change through community engagement, and learn about how we can work towards building the beloved community.

From the wetlands to the Mardi Gras Indian bands, from jazz to bounce, from gumbo to beignets, from Plessy vs. Ferguson to the Black Panthers, New Orleans offers so much to discover — including yourself and your call to justice.

This program will run from July 16-23, 2017; register by May 1st.

Youth who attended high school during the 2016–2017 school year are invited to attend.

How to Apply

To join this program, you will need to submit an application and a reference form. Once both parts of your application have been received, you will receive a response within two weeks.

Apply Now!

Additionally, you must ask a trusted adult to serve as a reference for you. If you attend a UU or other religious congregation, we request that this reference be your minister or your director of religious education. If you do not attend a congregation, this reference should be a adult who is not a relative, and who can speak to your personality and leadership development. Teachers, coaches, and supervisors are all good options. When asking an adult to be your reference, send them this link with more information and the reference form:

Cost and Financial Assistance

The full cost of this program is $880 per participant. Financial assistance is available by application for those with demonstrated financial need. With financial assistance, this program’s direct cost is as low as $225.

If you would like to be considered for financial assistance, be sure to fill out the relevant questions on the application. Financial aid is contingent on the availability of funding, and is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

Cost includes lodging, food, supervision, and all programming. Cost does not include transportation to and from New Orleans.

What Participants Had to Say
  • “This program changed my life, spiritually certainly, as well as giving me a better sense of what I can do in the world for social justice.” Ian C.
  • “I learned that no matter where a group of people is from, the sense of community and connection can be almost instant, and within a week, a group of strangers can become a group of life long friends!” —Sarah P.
  • “We learned about racial equality, social justice, other parts of the country, New Orleans, the UU faith, other faiths and beliefs. I met amazing people that have impacted my life and the way I see things.” —Marie H.
Accommodations and Supervision

Participants will stay in the Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal’s hostel-style dorm rooms, which have bunk beds; linens are provided. There is an on-site laundry room, indoor and outdoor showers, and access to the unique culture and incredible food of New Orleans. For more information, visit

This is an active, urban program. Participants will be supervised by adult staff overnight and during the day for the duration of the program.


The Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal (CELSJR) is a catalyst in the New Orleans area for promoting social, economic, environmental, and racial justice. The organization does this though activism, community engagement, and transformational learning.

Program Leaders

Rev. Deanna Vandiver is CELSJR’s executive director and a Unitarian Universalist community minister. She is grateful to call New Orleans her home and delights in sharing the joys of co-creating justice in her beloved community.


Help us spread the word! Check back soon for a downloadable flyer and Facebook image.

Watch this great video that highlights participants’ reflections from 2013’s youth justice training in Boston.