Life at Ellis
Equity and Inclusion

Culture Jam

About Culture Jam

Culture Jam is an annual student-led and produced conference focused on diversity. It is designed to empower students to have courageous conversations alongside their peers. Culture Jam offers a safe, inclusive space for high school students to discuss equity-related issues that are present in schools, the Pittsburgh region, and the global community.
Real, concrete change is necessary in order to improve our communities. But how can young people push past performative activism and make a genuine difference? Culture Jam gives high school students a unique opportunity to connect with one another and learn how to ignite the sparks of authentic change.

Culture Jam is a student-led diversity conference centered on social justice issues and core cultural identifiers such as race, gender, religion, sexuality, socio-economic status, family structure, and more. Organized and helmed by The Ellis School’s Student Diversity League, Culture Jam 2021 will be hosted and broadcast virtually on January 15, 2021. 

The conference will feature a keynote address from activist and non-profit executive Gisele Fetterman, Pennsylvania's Second Lady and co-founder of For Good PGH. The address will be virtual and is free and open to the public; advance registration is required. Members of the #notwhite collective, a group of 13 women artists whose mission is to use non-individualistic, multi-disciplinary art to make their stories visible, will also participate in a panel discussion on storytelling and identity, as well as lead an interactive workshop. 

This year’s theme is Cultivating Changemakers and will focus on how comprehensive, systemic change is essential to improving communities. Such change goes far beyond performative activism that often does not address societal injustices and inequalities, and it requires people of all ages to do their part. “Cultivating Changemakers” refers to young people coming together and actively seeking to acquire the skills necessary to take action within their communities right now. Culture Jam 2021 will give students in the Pittsburgh area and beyond the opportunity to listen to their peers and learn how to take bold, brave steps toward being the change.

2021 Culture Jam Schedule

Time Activity
9:00–9:15 a.m. Opening and Introduction
9:15–9:55 a.m. Speaker(s) or Panel Discussion
9:55–10:05 a.m. Snack Break
10:10–11:00 a.m. Session 1
11:05–11:45 a.m. Session 2
11:50 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Lunch Break
12:35–1:15 p.m. Keynote Speaker
1:15–1:55 p.m. Performances/Art Showcase
2:00–2:35 p.m. Affinity Groups
2:40–3:00 p.m. Closing

About Our Guest Speakers

List of 2 items.

  • Gisele Fetterman

    Gisele Fetterman is Pennsylvania’s Second Lady and co-founder of For Good PGH, a nonprofit that works to advocate for inclusion and inspire kindness. A longtime access and equity activist, Gisele has made an invaluable impact on the Greater Pittsburgh community and beyond. She is the founder of Freestore 15104, a shop that aims to end food and clothing insecurity by redistributing surplus and donated goods to neighbors in need. The Freestore expanded to six additional locations and sparked the birth of 412 Food Rescue, a community-wide effort to end hunger and food waste. Gisele’s work has been celebrated nationally and highlighted by the Huffington Post, TODAY Show, CNN, NPR, NY Post, and more. 
  • #notwhite collective

    The #notwhite collective is a group of 13 women artists whose mission is to use non-individualistic, multi-disciplinary art to make their stories visible as they relate, connect, and belong to the Global Majority. The #nonwhite collective expresses the hybridized and multifaceted aspects of self-defined liberation; they accept cultural fluidity as a means of seeing and being seen, each member declaring their existence, individually and collectively, through their voices, bodies, and art.

About the Student Diversity League

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  • What is the mission of the Student Diversity League?

    Members of the Student Diversity League (SDL) are committed to raising awareness about current diversity-related topics in an effort to emphasize the value and beauty of diversity. They encourage open and honest discussion where disagreement is allowed but acceptance is the final destination.
  • What does the Student Diversity League do?

    The Ellis School's Student Diversity League is responsible for coordinating events including the student-led diversity conference Culture Jam, Stand Against Racism initiatives, and other diversity-related activities throughout the year.

Questions? Please Contact:

List of 1 members.

  • Photo of Denise LaRosa

    Dr. Denise LaRosa 

    Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


    • This is the 2021 Culture Jam promotional image

      Designed by Moira Connell, Class of 2022, and Carly McGuire, Class of 2021

Culture Jam Attendee Pledge

To help make Culture Jam a safe and productive experience for everyone here, I pledge to:
  1. Listen, and keep an open mind to learning from someone new.
  2. Speak, and help educate others about my personal experiences with diversity and judgment.
  3. Care, by being sensitive, respectful, and understanding of others.
  4. Try, by being courageous and patient, and engaging with difficult topics maturely.
  5. Act, by finding a way, great or small, to work against the culture of judgment in my school and community.