Black Student Leadership Network

The Black Student Leadership Network (BSLN) is a dynamic program designed to nurture the next generation of Black servant leaders. The Black Student Leadership Network provides opportunities to center and amplify young people’s voices to shape a brighter tomorrow for their generation and the generations to follow.  

We provide financial support, training resources, and community engagement/building opportunities to college-aged organizers, equipping them to become advocates for justice, equity, opportunity, and well-being on their campuses and in their local communities. From pre-K through college, we’re committed to mentoring, supporting, and uplifting as students guide us toward a future where children, especially our most marginalized, are provided every opportunity to thrive.

Accepting Applications

The wait is over! We’re currently accepting applications for the Black Student Leadership Network. Join a dynamic community of Black student leaders committed to creating positive change. Don’t miss out! Applications close on April 3, 2024, at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Apply today!

Core Components

BSLN Conference

Held annually on CDF’s Alex Haley Farm, our BSLN Conference provides students with space to develop lifelong connections with fellow student organizers from across the country. Attendees engage in thoughtful and enriching training on how to lead in community organizing, strategy development and implementation, public policy, and social justice spaces in their campus and local communities.

Fellowship Program

The BSLN Fellowship Program offers an enriching opportunity for college students to engage and learn more about community organizing and public policy. Over a transformative year-long hybrid journey, Campus Ambassadors and Program Fellows from campuses across the nation engage in interactive trainings on organizing, develop strategic initiatives to implement and transform their campuses, and build a community of support among peers.

Shaping Public Narrative

Join us in championing a powerful movement dedicated to equipping the present generation of Black leaders. Alongside our transformative Conference and Fellowship Program, BSLN participants can collaborate with BSLN Alumni, CDF Freedom Schools® sites, and influential contemporary Black leaders. Serving as invaluable historians, mentors, and strategic allies, they walk alongside and inspire students within the BSLN Network. Together, we’re building a legacy of empowered advocates, ensuring that the voices of tomorrow are heard today and that they are empowered to unleash the joy in growing up.

Black Student Leadership Network Fellowship Interest Meeting

The Black Student Leadership Network is dedicated to fostering a network of Black student leaders who champion organizing and advocacy within their communities. Our BSLN Fellowship Program provides a unique paid opportunity for college students to delve into community organizing and public policy.

Learn More

BSLN Highlights and News

BSLN Members Featured in Youth Response to the 2023 State of the Union Address

Michael Henry
Zakaria Jamari

Children’s Defense Fund is pleased to share that two members of our Black Student Leadership Network—Michael Henry and Zakaria Jamari—have been selected to speak during the Young People’s Address after the 2023 State of the Union.

Henry, of Fayetteville, NC, is a Senior Political Science Major at Morehouse College. There, he serves in various capacities, including as President of the Student Ambassador Team, a Study Abroad Ambassador for the Office of International Education, and a Prison Education Student Ambassador for the Andrew Young Center for Global Leadership. Jamari, of Saint Paul, MN, attends the University of Minnesota where he studies Psychology with minors in Public Health, Integrative Neuroscience, and Management. After graduation, Jamari hopes to pursue a Psy.D. in clinical psychology and become a licensed psychologist healing his community.

The #YoungPeopleAddress streamed live at 10:30pm EST on Tuesday, February 7, 2023.