Claremont, Calif. (April 6, 2016)—Pitzer College student Eli Erlick ’17 has been awarded $10,000 by Davis Projects for Peace to establish the Trans Youth Leadership Summit, a Los Angeles-based leadership institute for young transgender people. Erlick’s initiative is one of 120 proposals from across the country selected for the award, which supports college students who designed projects that will help foster peace.
The Trans Youth Leadership Summit (TYLS) is collaborative fellowship-style program providing young transgender people the opportunity to work together through collective organizing for solidarity, advocacy and empowerment. TYLS will foster the skills of dozens of emerging trans leaders and put them at the forefront of critical issues transgender people face.
In her Projects for Peace proposal, Erlick outlined some of the many hardships facing transgender students in high school: 89 percent are verbally harassed; 80 percent feel unsafe; more than half have been physically assaulted. In college, one in four transgender students reported being sexual assaulted, according to survey findings released in 2015 by the Association of American Universities.
“Davis Projects for Peace will help us create new transgender youth justice programming to build a sustainable movement working towards transgender liberation,” Erlick said.
Erlick will hold the first Trans Youth Leadership Summit this summer in Los Angeles. She will then turn the summit into an ongoing initiative that both provides participants with funding for future events and helps further foster community activism by mentoring youth leaders through regular check-ins.
A feminist, gender and sexuality studies major and sociology minor at Pitzer College, Erlick is the director and co-founder of Trans Student Educational Resources (TSER), a national, youth-led nonprofit dedicated to transforming the educational environment for trans- and gender-nonconforming students. TSER, which Erlick founded when she was still in high school, will oversee the Trans Youth Leadership Summit.
Erlick is a nationally known advocate for transgender rights. In 2014, she won a $25,000 Peace First Prize for her work supporting transgender youth. Today, she is asked to speak at conferences across the country and is frequently interviewed by news outlets ranging from the Washington Post to Public Radio International.
The Davis Projects for Peace program invites undergraduates from the 91 US colleges and universities that participate in the Davis United World College Scholars Program to design grassroots projects that promote peace. The Davis Projects for Peace program evolved from the vision of philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis, who sought to motivate tomorrow’s promising leaders by challenging them to find ways to “prepare for peace.” Pitzer College became a Davis United World College Scholars Program partner in 2014.