Tools for Change is an Educational Program co-sponsored by the Rye, Rye Brook, Port Chester League through the League's Educational Foundation

To make a tax deductible contribution to support Tools for Change click on the button below. Specify the word Tools on the reference line. 


Tools for Change now has its own website. Click here.

Tools for Change is a collaborative action-research seminar for high school students in the Rye Neck, Blind Brook and Port Chester High Schools that is designed to help students prepare for college, make new friends and, above all, learn to solve problems.

Most of us are quite aware of the range of social problems that confront communities around the world. They range from global warming to health and educational disparities to the financial crisis to corruption. Many of us are concerned and may even know something about these problems. But few of us believe we can do anything about them. How do we develop solutions to contemporary social challenges?  Tools for Change is one answer that has been provided to our community high school students for the past three years.

The Tools for Change curriculum is modeled on an honors program in the Sociology Department at Duke University. The voluntary program is a college level seminar course that allows students to form real world policy recommendations by employing research methods and analytics used by social scientists. Dr. William Tobin of Duke University and Dr. Valerie Feit of Rye Neck High School teach the seminar. It is funded by the Town of Rye and Building Community Bridges, a non-for-profit founded by Rye Town Supervisor Joe Carvin.

Tools for Change Seminar

Please click on the link above to view the seminar: Tools for Change 2014.

Tools For Change 2014

Final Presentation  of the 2014 Seminar was held on May 20th at 8:00 Town Hall

After much discussion and investigation into an issue being dealt with by many local communities, the students of the Tools For Change Seminar decided to studyHow do current challenges effect the ability of community organizations’ to address hunger?
Unlike in years past when the students have gone into the field to canvas local residents, a focus group made up of leaders of hunger related community organizations will be interviewed by the students to discuss the various challenges and strategies employed to deal with this difficult issue.

A Letter to Editor:

The Tools for Change program focuses teenagers from diverse backgrounds to conduct research, analyze and solve community problems. Dr. William Tobin from Duke University teaches the seminar.  As Dr. Tobin has written, "tools grows young people who not only possess disciplined analytical and interpretive skills, as well as empathy and wisdom, but can bring these traits to bear on local challenges that have national and global dimensions. The focus of Tools is not to transmit knowledge, but instead to teach a style for engaging the world so that new and existing knowledge and data can be productively organized, analyzed and used." The program is multi-faceted and has been bringing together students and teachers, parents, and school board members from Port Chester, Rye Neck, and Blind Brook.  

Dr. Tobin is anxious to have students from Rye City to join the seminar that is beginning this February. (Interested students, parents and/or community members can contact him at

Funding for the program is through a public-private partnership.  Public donors have included the Town of Rye, Building Community Bridges/One World and, this year, the County of Westchester.  Funding is always difficult and the public's help is encouraged and needed if this worthwhile program is to continue. There have been private donations, both through the crowd sourcing website: IncitED and through the League of Women Voters Educational Foundation, a tax deductible 501(c)3 organization. Donating through the League can be easily accomplished by clicking the DONATE button on our website or by mail to P.O. Box 194, Rye, NY 10580. 

Volunteers are also needed, as chaperons and in other capacities. This worthwhile program is a "two way street," benefiting not only the students but the adults who are so much a part of it.  Those who wish to give of their time may also contact the League through the website or by mail.

Gary Zuckerman

Rye Brook

Students Present 'Tools for Change' to Rye Town Board

by Luke Lavoie from The Daily Port Chester.Com 04/17/2012

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. – Twenty-three students from Rye Neck High School, Blind Brook High School in Rye Brook and Port Chester High School participating in Rye Town's "Tools for Change" program went in front of the Rye Town Board on Tuesday evening to present policy recommendations from the group's final project.

The voluntary program, in its third year, is a college level seminar course that allows students to form real world policy recommendations by employing research methods and analytics used by social scientists. The seminar is taught injunction by Duke University Professor William Tobin and Rye Neck High School Teacher Valerie Feit and funded by the Town of Rye and Building Community Bridges, a non-for-profit founded by Rye Town Supervisor Joe Carvin.

"It teaches students how to solve real world problems by giving them the tools and skills to attack it," Tobin said. "The most innovative, creative and practical solutions come out of inclusive and diverse groups like this." According to Tobin, this year's project about implementation strategies for social media in local government was created, designed and framed by the students. "The students led the seminar from day one," Tobin said.
The presentation delivered by select members of the 23 student groups recommended social media policy changes based on qualitative survey research compiled over the 2011-12 school year. Among the recommendations put forth by the students were the creation of a student led consultancy and webinars to acclimate residents to social media.
While many view social media as a recreational device, many of the students stressed the value a strong social media presence can have. "I want people to understand that you can use the Internet to help your community," Port Chester High School junior Kyle Thomas said.