• Democratic Education

    Every community’s empowerment depends on the enrichment of its young people. Riverside’s after-school programming provides democratic educational opportunities for young people aged 11 and up. We’re building a more equitable future rooted in care for self, care for others, and care for the environment.

    Guided by the vision of the Mississippi Freedom Schools, students will choose and design their own education. Classes may include cooking, coding, literacy, art, sports, or more. Students will also participate directly in decision-making and receive hands-on experiences as members of Riverside’s coffeehouse. Together, we will disrupt apathetic relationships towards learning and present education as joyous, meaningful, and worthwhile.  

    The after-school program is managed through participatory processes designed and stewarded by the program’s members. At the beginning of each new cohort, members will establish the cooperative processes they will use over the course of their program. These processes may include how often decision-making circles meet, whether members will use a talking stick or hand signs to regulate discussion, and what community rules will apply to each meeting. 

    This after-school program positions student members as leaders in collectively and individually designing their own program according to their own needs and interests. Each program experience will look different, but with the following general principles in common: 

    • Participants will decide which programs they want to spend the most time with, and have opportunities to make informed decisions about what works best for them. 
    • Participants are supported in the process about making informed decisions about what a curriculum could look like that best suits their needs. This can take the form of “trial” periods with different courses, one-on-one conversations, and consensus based decision making. 
    • Regular check-ins between program participants and Riverside staff will provide an opportunity to discuss the positives and negatives of the program, and allow for participants to offer solutions to improve the program quality.