The Bryan Allen Stevenson School of Excellence (BASSE) is a public charter school in Georgetown, Delaware that is slated to open its doors in the fall of 2024. UP for Learning has been partnering with BASSE in its formative phases to create a foundation of student voice and youth-adult partnership at the school. Bryan Stevenson, eponym of BASSE, is a social justice activist and lawyer, and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. Stevenson was born in Delaware and is the author of the book Just Mercy. BASSE’s core values of Excellence, Equity, Community, Voice, and Hope illustrate perfectly the alignment between the school, Stevenson’s life work, and UP’s own principles. 

At the end of March, UP team members traveled to Delaware to facilitate and participate in a Family Visioning Night at BASSE. Prospective students and their families enjoyed a meal together, engaged in community building, and shared their thoughts through a chalk talk protocol. The chalk talk questions asked students and families to reflect on each of BASSE’s values through the lens of student voice. For example, “How does student and family voice connect to the value of hope? What does it look like when hope is alive?” Some of the reflections that were shared include “Hope makes people feel connected and support each other’s ideas” and “Hope makes people feel alive and excited to be involved.” 

UP will continue to support BASSE as the school prepares to open by working closely with Chantalle Ashford, founder and dean of the school, to design opportunities for continued student and family voice. UP also plans to facilitate a Summer Leadership Lab (SLL) at BASSE during summer 2023. At the SLL, students will explore their own identity and core values, learn more about how to use their voice in their current educational environment, and also participate in a Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) project. The UP team is excited to continue this relationship with BASSE and be involved in youth-adult partnership work in the school’s earliest days! 

-Jackie Verley, Program Director