Diversity Students

Gateway2Change Student Summits on Race has inspired and motivated young people to become leaders for positive change in their local community. This unique approach helps young people engage in purposeful conversations about the social and cultural differences that exist within the St. Louis region and create a plan to affect positive change. 


Gateway2Change (G2C) was created in 2014 after the tragic events unfolded in Ferguson and has served more than 400 students representing 38 high schools throughout the St. Louis region. Annual cohorts of students participate in summits facilitated by program staff and community partners. Students explore how social and cultural differences influence individual life experiences and perspectives; and apply problem-solving models to develop solutions for issues related to diversity and equity.

Social justice had expanded from being primarily concerned with economics to include other spheres of social life to include the environment, race, gender, and other causes and manifestations of inequality. As a result, our G2C program is being expanded for Fall 2021 to include those spheres, and as such, a new name, the Social Justice Academy in Character Education, will honor this undertaking. 
We know for young people of color that acculturative stress and ethnic identity impact health, socialization, academic achievement, and emotional well-being. As a society, we bear responsibility for that inequitable duality.  
The Social Justice Academy in Character Education (SJACE) accepts that responsibility and addresses this injustice utilizing compassion and relationship building as the gateway to behavioral and attitudinal change. Given the national tragedies of late, this call to change is SJACE doing its part as a conscious raising experience in our region for high school youth of every color.
Our 2019 research (above) reflected that all students experienced growth in Awareness of Racial Equity, Empathy for Different Lived Experiences, Comfort in Discussing Race, Oppression, and Privilege, and the Desire to be Change Agents for Equity as a result of participating in this program.
This personal growth continues to create a stronger bias to act positively when faced with injustice, inequality, and negative attitudes. This program works towards measurable outcomes that include student’s ability to:
  • See, understand and address the racial equity situations they encounter.
  • Talk about race, oppression, and privilege in a way that creates a gracious space for expression.
  • To have critical and compassionate conversations around systemic and institutional racism.
  • To stand up and address racial inequity in an inclusive and productive manner.
  • To find their passion for their own community and finding their way to participate.
  • To first before anything else find empathy for people who have a different lived experience from their own.
  • To understand each of the vital social and emotional skills you must cultivate for success in the 21st century.
Building on the success of G2C, SJACE spans a school year with 3 summits that bring a diverse cross-section of students together & engages all through group summits and small group meetings throughout the year.
SUMMIT 1 Fall '21
Understanding Self & Others
Provides an in-depth, participatory exploration on why we should have conversations about social & cultural differences, diversity, & equity.
  • See, understand & address racial, gender, and economic equity situations
  • Develop critical & compassionate conversations around systemic & institutional racism and sexism
  • Approach race and gender oppression & privilege in a way that creates a space for expression
SUMMIT 2 Winter '21
Knowledge of Community
Creates awareness about local issues that exist in social & cultural differences, diversity, & equity. Students engage the regional community (business, social services, government) to understand dilemmas.
  • Find passion for their community & ways to participate
  • Find empathy for people who have a different lived experience
  • Explore problem-solving models & potential action
SUMMIT 3 Spring '22
Awareness of World
Students’ understanding is facilitated on how to translate social justice issues into positive action by reflecting on the summits & learning experiences. With the opportunity to learn & grow in understanding of social & cultural differences, diversity, & equity, students commit to impacting positive change in our community & beyond.
  • Address inequities inclusively & productively
  • Understand the social & emotional skills required to thrive in the 21st century

CharacterPlus® is a 501c(3) organization

1460 Craig Road

St. Louis, Missouri 63146


phone 314.692.1252

EIN 20-5696782