Social Justice and Community Partnerships
At Marlborough, we inspire young women to become change agents. By helping to connect them with issues and organizations that align with their passions and skills, students learn how to make a lasting, meaningful difference in the world around them. Along the way they build greater empathy, a deeper understanding of important social justice and human rights concerns, and the knowledge that they have both the power and the responsibility to use their voices in service to and in support of others.
With two full-time employees leading work fueled by students and weaving it through our curriculum as well as our advisory program, the Social Justice and Community Partnerships Department is guided by the following principles:
We do not mandate a minimum number of service hours because we want student volunteerism to be rooted in a passion, not simply serve as a box to check. This approach not only enriches the girls’ learning experience, but also ensures that our non-profit partners benefit as well.
Over 60% of Marlborough students voluntarily dedicate their time in support of their communities. When girls ask for volunteer opportunities we ensure that each one receives a personalized, one-on-one exploratory meeting to find what causes truly speak to her tap into her unique skill set, the tools she needs to succeed as a valued volunteer, and space for reflection to ensure that our students are not only volunteering, but also expanding their personal efficacy and empathy. Our girls know what it means to be mission driven, even as volunteers
Student-led clubs are a significant part of school life and serve as one entry point to social activism for our girls. During any given lunch period, they are sitting together, strategizing how to take their club to the next level. Over the past few years, many clubs have evolved from discussion-based groups into action-research cohorts. There are more than 40 active clubs on campus with the majority focused on social justice themes, including access to education, criminal justice reform, and the rights of women and girls around the world. Clubs are student run, but guided by a faculty advisor.
The more knowledgeable and informed our students are, the better allies and advocates they can be. That is why social justice is not just a co-curricular effort, it is a part of their classroom learning as well. Starting in 7th Grade, students are introduced to digital citizenship through the lens of social justice, for which they create an advocacy campaign on behalf of a nonprofit.
Combining their newly acquired technological tools and research skills, they learn what it means to be a true ally by practicing the art of listening when they are asked to interview a representative from the nonprofit. The class concludes with students speaking up by advocating through presentation on behalf of the nonprofit of their choice.
Bookending their time at Marlborough, the new Social Justice Capstone is limited to seniors who demonstrate a previous commitment to volunteerism and asks them to draw upon the knowledge they have obtained throughout their previous experiences and Marlborough course work. Students dedicate the summer before their senior year to working at their nonprofit and their first semester of the school year to researching a proposed capstone project that is mutually agreed upon by the nonprofit. The project is executed in the second semester of her senior year. Reflection is a theme that is carried through the entire course from start to end
Work around equity within diversity is best demonstrated through our affinity groups. Our student-led affinity groups are each guided by two faculty members and are a safe space for students that identify as Middle Eastern/Arab, Latinx, African-American, Asian/Pacific Islander, LGBTQ+, Jewish, and Armenian.
Our affinity groups are thoughtful and powerful. We do not shy away from discourse around difficult topics such as racism, discrimination, and prejudice. Their community building transcends students as they lead efforts to create inclusion for their families within the Marlborough community.
These groups openly take on the tremendous responsibility of presenting themes around diversity, equity, and inclusion to the entire school. Within the last two years they have bravely presented, speaking from personal experience, on the topics of microaggressions and identity intersectionality.
Violets’ Giving Circle (VGC) is a student-initiated, donor advised philanthropic organization committed to furthering the educational opportunities of underprivileged women and girls in the Los Angeles area.
Our board consists entirely of Marlborough juniors and seniors, providing leadership opportunities for members while benefiting the community at large.
Our goal is to learn the practice of philanthropy while advocating for the community. We carefully review grant proposals and conduct site visits in order to allocate the money we raise to organizations that we feel match our mission statement.
Through corporate sponsorship, private donations, and school wide fundraisers VGC has donated over $200,000 to organizations supporting underprivileged women and girls in Los Angeles.
Our main fundraising event is a fashion show hosted every two years to raise funds to donate during granting years. Our fashions shows consist of student designs, silent and live auctions, and local vendors.