GroundworkThe ShortsYouth Uprising

When he was in eighth grade, Giancarlos Rodriguez led chants at a rally for the first time. Now he’s one of dozens of High School students in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood who are fighting for good schools and control over their education. When the School District puts two beloved neighborhood schools on the list for closure, the community takes action to keep them open. Students take us into the work of Youth United for Change.

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Youth United For Change

Youth United for Change (YUC) is a youth-led, democratic organization made up of youth of color and working class communities, with the “people” and political power to hold school officials and government accountable to meeting the educational needs of Philadelphia public school students. This is done through a process of school/community-based organizing where a diverse group of youth come together, identify common concerns in their schools/community and act collectively on their own behalf to create strategies for whole school reforms in the Philadelphia Public School System that better meet the needs of youth of color and working class communities. YUC believes that every young person deserves a quality public education that prepares him or her for success at a 4-year university, for a living wage job, and for active participation in civic life.

A Brief History of the Kensington Multiplex

June 2015

The School District agrees to wait 1 year to close and consolidate Kensington Business and Kensington Urban, to allow more time to plan for the new school.

March 2015

The School District announces a plan to consolidate Kensington Urban and Kensington Business into one high school during the following school year.

Fall 2013

Students in Kensington successfully campaign for Penn Treaty High School to be opened.

June 2013

24 Schools close, 5 are relocated.

May 2013

Walkout 215 – Hundreds of Philadelphia students walk out of class to protest continued closures and budget cuts.

Spring 2013

Community outrage over the proposed school closings reduces the list of school closures to 24.

December 2012

School District Superintendent William Hite announces plans to close or relocate 44 Philadelphia Schools.


Pennsylvania introduces the Keystone Exams. The Keystone exams are end-of-course exams designed to assess proficiency in Algebra 1, Literature and Biology.  They will be a graduation requirement for PA students in 2017.

Fall 2010

The 4th Kensington Multiplex school finally opens, Kensington Urban Education Academy.

Fall 2005

3 of the small schools open – Kensington International Business High School, Kensington Creative and Performing Arts and Kensington Culinary (now Kensington Health Sciences).


Students win a commitment from the School District to create 4 small schools in place of the large, over-crowded and under-resourced Kensington High School.


Students present a proposal to the School District for a Multiplex of small high schools in Kensington.

2000 - 2003

Students in Youth United for Change, along side community allies research education reform models around the country.


The School District of Philadelphia is taken over by the State of Pennsylvania, control of the district is given to the School Reform Commission (SRC).  3 of the 5 members of the SRC are appointed by the Governor of Pennsylvania and the other 2 are appointed by the Mayor of Philadelphia.