National Federation for Just Communities (NFJC) of Western New York’s (WNY) Agents of Change Camp

The goal of the National Federation for Just Communities (NFJC) of Western New York’s Agents of Change Camp is to break barriers between the law enforcement community and students through engagement, conversation, and activities to build understand and trust. The Agents of Change Camp, now in its’ 41st year, is a week-long Youth Leadership Camp for high school students that focuses on the many Diversity & Inclusion issues that affect the western New York region. The camp, facilitated by the NFJC in collaboration with the FBI, Erie County Sheriff’s Department and Cradle Beach, aims to empower students to address social justice issues, build leadership skills, and improve police-community relations. Through presentations, activities, and dialogue sessions, the NFJC helps students process what they are seeing in the news and on social media and empowers them to affect meaningful and positive change. Participants grow their leadership skills as the connect with other youth from across the region, and they gain tools to build stronger and healthier relationships within their schools and neighborhoods. Additionally, the community partners and volunteers from the FBI and other law enforcement agencies are able to gain perspective and insights from the youth camp participants and, therefore, gain the perspective in order to serve their community better. This unique collaboration with the law enforcement community provides the opportunity to share a variety of demonstrations not offered to the general public. For example, the FBI has presented on how they collect evidence and have had the youth taking plaster molds of their footprints left behind on a beach. The Sheriff’s Department has brought in their robotics’ team and had their rescue helicopter land right in the camp. These opportunities provide youth with a new perspective of the law enforcement community which transitions into open dialogue between both.