Established in 1996, PSU has grown from a small group of students working on small, discrete campaigns to over 200 core members, and 1000 registered members working on specific, long-term campaigns addressing such issues as teacher quality, equity in school funding, policies that contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline, and violence in schools. To fulfill its mission, PSU concentrates on five core initiatives: Leadership Development and Organizing Training, Campaign Development, Media Literacy and Production, Retreats and Conferences, and High School Survival Programs.
Open Society Foundations funding will provide project support to the Philadelphia Student Union (PSU) for its youth-leadership development program. PSU was started in 1995 by a group of young people concerned about the state of public education in Philadelphia. Through PSU's leadership development program, young people learn to critically analyze problems in their schools and communities, and to work together to create solutions. In addition to addressing education reform, the program prepares young people for broader activism and civic engagement in other critical areas, such as school violence and the criminalization of youth of color.