Nationally recognized teen activist attends S.I. event aimed at empowering female students | In Class column | #socialmedia | #children

IN CLASS: This feature is part of an ongoing education column highlighting the various activities that engage school communities.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A teen activist and author who has been recognized by a national magazine and has launched a successful social media campaign recently attended a Staten Island District 31′s My Sister’s Keeper event to empower and inspire young women to create change.

Marley Dias, a high school senior who plans to attend Harvard University in the fall, spoke with students and signed copies of her recently released book, “Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You!” The event — which included speaking sessions, activities and networking opportunities. — took place last month at the Borough President’s Hall of Science at the Michael J. Petrides Education Complex in Sunnyside.

The successful student is the founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks, a campaign to collect and donate children’s books that feature Black girls as the lead character. The initiative has garnered over 10 billion social media impressions and created an international movement. Starting the movement at 11 years old in 2015, she has collected over 13,000 books to date.

Dias was recognized by TIME in 2018 as one of the 25 most influential teens and was named the youngest member of the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. She is also the executive producer of “Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices on Netflix.” The show, hosted by Dias, features celebrities reading books that feature Black characters and authors.

My Sister’s Keeper is a New York City Department of Education (DOE) initiative to promote gender equity and empowers and engages girls and young women in grades 4-12, including cisgender, transgender, gender expansive, and any other students who identify with the terms “girl” or “women.”

Dias, a high school senior who plans to attend Harvard University in the fall, signs copies of her recently released book, “Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You!” (Courtesy/Melissa Cisco)

Students in My Sister’s Keeper were also able to take part in a recent Tea & Chat event at the Tea House Garden inside the Hilton Garden Inn, Bloomfield.

The event, which took also place last month, was hosted by Dr. Marion Wilson, superintendent of District 31, and My Sister’s Keeper. Wilson said she envisioned gathering young girls for tea time after a trip to England.

“I’m the kind of person who has out-of-the-box ideas. After I went to England, I love tea, and we’re going to just have afternoon tea with the girls. It’s all about exposure for me,” she explained.

Those in attendance sipped on tea and munched on assorted sandwiches, fresh fruits and more as they engaged in conversations, enjoyed an enlightening musical performance by Haitian-American singer and songwriter Tadia, and indulged in the beautiful aesthetics around them.


Dias is pictured here with two young students holding copies of her book. (Courtesy/Melissa Cisco)


New York City public school students will be notified of their high school acceptances on Wednesday.

The DOE announced that students will be able to log in to and view their offer letter after school hours on Wednesday. Families without a MySchools account will be able to get their offer from a current school counselor or a Family Welcome Center.

Waitlists will open after offers are available.

In response to feedback from families and communities, middle and high school waitlists will stay open longer this year — through Sept. 16.


The New York State Education Department recently named the fifth class of My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Fellows who have been identified as leaders in their MBK Communities and who will be provided with mentor relationship opportunities in government, education and business. The 86 fellows represent 31 New York State school districts.

There are four fellows from Staten Island, including:

  • Ellyjah Dortilus – Eagle Academy for Young Men of Staten Island
  • Yovany Perez Mendez – Eagle Academy for Young Men of Staten Island
  • Ian Sanders, Jr. – Eagle Academy for Young Men of Staten Island
  • Justin Walton – Ralph McKee Career & Technical High School

The MBK initiative helps boys and young men of color — and all students — realize their full potential, according to the state.

“My Brother’s Keeper Fellows are leaders in their communities, helping build a culture and society of opportunity where every student can be successful,” Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. said. “Beliefs and ideas are nothing without execution. MBK is removing barriers, empowering our young people to affect actionable change, and creating a generation of leaders prepared for civic duty and deeply committed to social justice.”

Each fellow is matched with a mentor from a NYSMBK Community Network partner and given a fellowship opportunity. Each fellow will also be required to develop and execute a service project related to an NYSMBK initiative, such as:

  • Ensuring equitable access to high-quality schools and programs.
  • Expanding prevention, early warning, and intervention services.
  • Responding to structural and institutional racism.
  • Engaging families and communities in a trusted and respectful way.

“These remarkable young men are the voices of our future and worthy champions of our cause,” Rosa said. “My Brother’s Keeper is a call to action, and the Department is committed to doing what is right for all children. I thank Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and their colleagues for their continued support of New York’s MBK Program and for opening doors to success for all New Yorkers.”


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