2017 Social Justice Superhero: Dr. Mary Hylton, M.S.W.

Dr. Mary Hylton works as an Associate Professor
in the University of Nevada, Reno School of Social Work

Here’s what her nominator had to say about Dr. Hylton:

“Mary Hylton created and facilitated a Civic Literacy Program at Hugh High School in order to empower youth who live in low-income communities to increase their civic involvement and pique their interest in current affairs, politics and social and political networks for making change.

The School of Social Work approached CIS of Western Nevada for the project because there has been a significant decline in recent decades in how young people understand government and their willingness to influence it. Research shows that youth from low income and minority communities have fewer opportunities to build civic competency, which results in the potential for decreased political power among groups who are most vulnerable to fluctuations in economic and social policy.

Mary’s hope was to provide students with in-depth training on state and local government because she believes that when given the right skills, connections and opportunities, the students at Hug High School can emerge as the next leaders within our community

CIS of Western Nevada site coordinators at Hug — tasked with case-managing students who are living in poverty and are at-risk for dropping out of school — helped to coordinate the program and see a real value in helping students understand democratic principles and ways they can make their voices heard when they want to see change in their community.

The University and CIS of Western Nevada offered the Civic Literacy Program to Hug High School students in the Equality Group, which meets every Thursday during lunchtime, as well as to Speech and Debate students who meet every Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m. Course leaders had open discussions with students about privilege and the disparities that exist related to race, gender, socio-economic standing and education. They also worked toward being able to pinpoint issues of distrust in the government and facilitate ways to have their voices be heard in a way to affect change. Some of the students even visited our state capitol and were able to testify in front of legislators.

The pilot program was so successful that UNR and CIS are now planning an expansion of the program into Innovations High School and Vaughn Middle School. We believe Mary Hylton is well deserving of recognition for her efforts. Her innovation, dedication and volunteerism are incredibly valuable traits, and she’s made a true difference in the lives of so many low income students.”

Thank You Dr. Hylton for being a Social Justice Superhero!