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MoCo for Change Spotlight

MoCo For Change is a student-led organization founded in 2018 following the Parkland school shooting. Initially coined “MoCo For Gun Control,” the organization received national attention after conducting a student rally against gun violence in March of 2018 that garnered over 8,000 students from the DMV area.

Since then, MoCo For Change has expanded to fighting against De Facto school segregation, registering young voters, climate reform, and a range of other issues while still maintaining a core focus on gun violence. This year, the organization is putting a special emphasis on further involving students in the MCPS decision making process.

Claire Gelillo, Senior at Richard Montgomery High School and current President of MoCo For Change, first got involved with the organization following one of the gun violence prevention walkouts in 2018.

“One of my biggest goals for this year is taking steps to meaningfully, intentionally, and sustainably involve students in MCPS decision making.” said Gelillo. “On an organizational level, we are really working on solidifying our school branch structure to ensure that we are operating in all MCPS high schools and potentially expanding to middle schools as well.”

The organization has already made significant progress this year on issues like the 2020 election and equal opportunity in the education system.

“We teamed up with Youth Activism Project to conduct MoCo to 100, an initiative aiming to register 100% of all eligible high school seniors in MoCo to vote.” said Gelillo. “Additionally, we have signed on to the Young People for Progress policing demands, partnered with Students Toward Equitable Public Schools on matters surrounding educational equity and the boundary analysis, endorsed and supported candidates in the 2020 election cycle with our very first “Orange Ballot,” called for the removal of SROs, and much more.”

All this and more was achieved by the organization in the middle of the pandemic. For many organizations, quarantine as a result of COVID-19 has been at a net loss for progress. However, Claire has found conducting things virtually to be more effective than it ever was before.

“Since March, we have transitioned to become a 100% virtual organization, conducting executive board, all-member, rapid-response, and branch meetings on Google Meets and Zoom.” she said. “We have found that our meetings have been much more accessible as a result of this shift and will continue to operate virtually as an organizational norm.”

However, even with resources like Zoom, a large organization like MoCo Connect will always have some amount of difficulty coordinating its members.

“So far, the largest challenge [this year] has been finding ways to make communication amongst such a large group of students as clear and constant as possible.” said Gelillo.

You can get involved with your school’s branch of MoCo For Change via their website as long as you attend a middle or high school in Montgomery County.

Written by Zachary A. Poe

Published by PR Department


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