RIISE 500 Social Media Contest


The RIISE 500 is a social media contest designed by indy school rising 9th grader and RIISE intern, Justin Aguirre for students of color enrolled in 2016-17 as a 7th, 8th, or 9th grader at an independent school. If you are that student who wants to share your VOICE and enter for a chance to win a $500 RIISE scholarship that will go towards an enrichment program or school tuition, ENTER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN! Deadline for submission is has been extended to 11:59 PM, September 1, 2016.


1. Eligible students must complete a written PROFILE (http://goo.gl/forms/rdtXcLfrsCUR3zeh2) that includes responding to three of six questions about how GRIT and RESILIENCE looks for a student of color enrolled in an independent school. The written response to these questions will support the short student video submission to the same three chosen questions.

2. Students must submit their short VIDEO response to questions within these guidelines:

*Instagram Direct Video to 4RIISE. The challenge: each video response to the three questions will be one (1) minute long for a total of three (3), sixty (60) second videos


*Vimeo or YouTube videos to justinaguirre130@gmail.com and gpc@4RIISE.org. The challenge: video response to the three questions will be one (1) minute long for a total of three (3), sixty (60) second videos

**be sure to state or type your name, grade and school with your video submission – we will allow extra time for that!

Once the CONTEST CLOSES on August 1, 2016, all profile and corresponding video submissions will be reviewed by a panel of judges based on the RUBRIC below.  A $500 check will be granted to an independent school or enrichment program for 2016-17. Winner does not have to be present to win. The deadline for student submissions is 11:59 pm, September 1, 2016.

A panel of judges will use this rubric to determine the winner of the contest.

Covered three of six questions [1 – 5]
Written answers were clear and concise [1 – 5]
With clarity managed video time limit [1 – 5]
Followed directions [1- 5]
Grammar [1 – 5]
Public Speaking [1 – 5]

Good luck!!!

Meet Justin as he talks about the contest and what grit & resilience looks like to him.

This Is Grit, an excerpt by Justin Aguirre

A few months had passed, and it was the middle of November. Pumpkin carving was over, apple picking season had previously ended, and all the trick or treaters had collected enough candy to last them a lifetime. By that time I had completed about 10 quizzes, a project, and 5 tests. I was definitely feeling the increased workload that accompanied being an eighth grader. Teachers added more pressure on my studies, my parents expected better grades, and my friends counted on my support. But, today I got a break from all that stress because it was Community day.

Community day, is a day where middle school students go to different workshops to improve their character, something Riverdale prides itself on. I went to two different workshops that day. One was about finding your sweet spot and the other was a boys of color affinity meeting. The one that empowered me the most was the boys of color meeting because there I got to share what it means to be a boy of color at an independent school, and not just any independent school, Riverdale Day Country School.

The meeting got real, and I’m not talking about “We need more diversity… we need more students of color!” Anyway, after the meeting was over I was inspired to share with the facilitator, Mr. Sipp, who also happens to be the head of the middle school, if I could create a forum for students of color to talk about controversial issues based on cutting edge research related to multiculturalism and diversity around school, and in society.  Mr. Sipp agreed but asked if we could meet to discuss the details, and what the mission of the group would be before the first meeting. A few days later we met to discuss specifics, and a few days after that we had our first meeting of what would become the Students of Color Forum -the first group of its kind to empower all middle school students to share their experiences with diversity based on the discussion topic for that given day. I was proud to be able to start the group that would allow students of color, and our caucasian friends alike to have a safe space to understand that we have some similarities, but at the same time learn what our differences are and learn to accept them.

It was the day of the first meeting, and I remember being super excited to go and talk about the first article of the year for our group. I had a seventy minute french class before the meeting, and I remember dozing off thinking about what enlightening information I was about to share with the group. “Joostan, Joostan, est que tu as une réponse,”  Mme. Raabon my french teacher asked staring at me impatiently. “What?” I responded, looking a little confused. “Pas d’anglais!” She responded back. I don’t recall much of that class after that little embarrassing moment but what came next I will recall for a lifetime.

“Hey Mr. Sipp,” I walked into the forum with confidence. “Hey Justin! How are you?” “Good thanks. And you?” “Great.”  As I walked to my chair I shook hands with Kofi, my best friend since lower school, and we all started talking about how the remaining part of the year would play out in this forum as we waited for other people to fall in. The article  we discussed was called The Psychological Experiences of Students of Color by Michael Thompson and Kathy Schultz. This article basically sums up all the bullshit that I had to endure to try to prove myself in school. I mean if you go to or went to an independent school as a student of color then you know what I am talking about. Not to say though, that I have never had a good day at Riv, but everything became clear to me that day.

I had been to enough diversity conferences to try to come close to becoming the next MLK or Caesar Chavez, and I had gotten into enough unexplainable trouble – but the trouble was never about being bullied or even being a bully. I understood that it was about all the micro-aggressions; all the little racist comments; the year of self-destruction; and the discrimination I had witnessed and experienced against people who look like me that led to all my pent up anger. No teacher or dean was ever able to explain to me why I had been so angry. There wasn’t a book written by a neurologist or rocket scientist that taught me about my experience. Not even one of those workshops at a diversity conference could inform me about all my unexplainable aggression. I was this bathtub that filled up with boiling hot water from the micro-agressions of over almost a decade, searching desperately for a drain.

I was able to find it when I started this group, when I listened to how others viewed the independent school environment. I wasn’t going to throw away the best education in the country for a load of microaggressions, or because someone slighted me, and I definitely wasn’t going to let discrimination, and systematic racism get the best of me. Once I felt like I was not the only one, I decided I was never going to quit. I was going to graduate from the twelfth grade at Riverdale Country School.

Related Post: How Much Grit Does It Take To Be An Independent School Student, of Color

This entry was posted in Frontpage and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>