It’s common to hear that the purpose of education is to produce better citizens. But is that all it’s meant to do? 

One meaning of “educare,” the Latin root of “education,” is “to bring up.” Bringing up young people, challenging them to challenge themselves, is what the Youth Social Justice Conference at the Oak Park Public Library on March 16 is all about. 

The one-day “Educate to Liberate” Youth Social Justice Conference will feature community builders, expert speakers, group panel discussions, and engaging activities, including a stage reading by Echo Theater Collective, a performance from the OPRF High School Hip Hop Club, and a keynote address from Dr. David Stovall, UIC professor of African American Studies, Criminology, and Law and Justice. 

Our goals for this full day of learning, exchanging ideas, and growth are to create space for youth to critically explore social justice topics, inspire them to take action in their community and the world, equip them with the necessary tools, and connect them to community builders and peers leading ongoing efforts for community and global transformation. 

Now more than ever, we need to educate our students outside the box. We need to help them develop their own compass to navigate their way through the world. 

This one-day conference builds on the work we’ve been doing since October 2017 through a grant-funded initiative made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Based at the Oak Park Public Library in partnership with Triton College and the Equity Team (E-Team), we offer activities that build personal and social skills for middle and high schoolers, after-school tutoring, mentorship for young people planning to enter college and the workforce, and support for families as they navigate community resources and school systems. 

Learn more and register for the conference happening Saturday, March 16, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., at the Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St., at

Kara Lester and Cynthia Martz

Triton College

Jose Cruz

Oak Park Public Library

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