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(Photo courtesy Portland Student Pandemic Response)
By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 14 June 2021

PORTLAND, Ore. — While the threat of COVID-19 is lessening across the region, for the area's most vulnerable, the effects of the pandemic are continuing to make an impact. For high schoolers looking for ways to help and not sure where to start, a student-led group of Portland-area teens has come up with a solution.

The Summer Action Team is returning this summer with two opportunities. The goal is to bring students together to work safely online and in person as part of group projects to fight some of Portland's most pertinent social and environmental justice issues. The students lead, create, and run their projects together with a group of fellow teens during a two-week session.

“Every day, students are faced with an endless stream of social media with post after post focused on issues in the world and calls to action. However, when aid is primarily asked for in the form of donations, it is easy for them to feel helpless and frustrated,” said Ridley Liu, co-founder and marketing director of the Portland Student Pandemic Response.

Student-built

The Summer Action Team is part of the Portland Student Pandemic Response, a student-built, nonprofit organization providing the resources and space for students to use their ideas for activism to serve their community. Initially launched in April of 2020 as an online catalog of service ideas, the group grew to host the inaugural Summer Action Team in 2020 and continued with after-school programs over the last year. Together, students have created a vaccine text line to help more than 135,000 local residents find available vaccine appointments, host donation drives for houseless families, create awareness campaigns, and create resource guides for food insecurity.

“Last year, we started with six students and a website. Today, we’ve got a team of 20 student coordinators who run our projects and represent schools all over Portland. We also have a year of experience, fewer pandemic-related restrictions and ten times the resources,” said Liu.

“We have the opportunity to do something incredible!”

The PSPR Summer Action Team helps local students grow their leadership, organizational, community building and community service skills. Students can select the causes they care about most.

There are two sessions offered: June 21-July 2 and July 12-23 from 1-3 pm on weekdays. Each runs for two weeks, and students can take part in either one or both. Both feature three student-led cohorts, focusing on environmental justice, racial justice, food insecurity. The first session will also feature a cohort focusing on supporting houseless Portlanders, and the second session will include a cohort focusing on the opioid epidemic.

How to apply

Applications for this year’s Summer Action Team are due by June 18 for Session One and by July 9 for Session Two. The program is free and available to all Portland-area students. To sign up, visit www.pspandemicresponse.com/summer-offerings

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