Skip to main content

Chicago's Whitney Young High School Students Practice Fair Trade Activism

Feb 28, 2022 ● By Maya Westbrook, Lila Aspin and Vivian Miltner
Whitney Young High School’s Fair Trade Coffee Café

Whitney Young High School’s Fair Trade Coffee Café Photo credit Lila Aspin

Whitney Young’s Fair Trade Club was founded in 2018, and focuses on the fair trade movement and the many social and environmental issues that surround it. Recently, with the help of Metropolis Coffee and Chicago Fair Trade, as well as donations from other fair trade companies, Whitney Young’s Fair Trade Club has opened a coffee shop within their school in order to promote fair trade coffee. They are currently selling fair trade tea, hot chocolate and Metropolis Coffee to students every morning and are working on expanding their product range. The club plans to donate any profits to mental health and workers rights organizations.

The club also holds events for their school community to educate the student body about these issues and integrate fair trade into the goods sold at school. Some of their past events include clothing swaps, school-wide fundraisers with fair trade-related activities, hosting speakers such as former child laborer Nasreen Sheikh, who inspired the founding of the club and movie screenings. One member says, “Joining the fair trade movement changed my life. From meeting lifelong friends to discovering my future career path, fair trade has forever altered the way I view the world and my place in it.”

The club holds biweekly meetings with all of its members with each meeting focusing on a different aspect of fair trade. At these meetings, the club’s executive board presents on a range of informative topics from fast fashion to human trafficking and fair trade labels.

For more information, visit

Lila Aspin, Vivian Miltner and Maya Westbrook showing samples of fair trade coffee. Photo courtesy Aria Hoesley


Maya Westbrook, Lila Aspin and Vivian Miltner are founding members of Whitney Young’s Fair Trade club. They are interns with Chicago Fair Trade and co-host the Chicago Fair Trade Podcast, Rethink Ethical. Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, located at 211 S. Laflin St., is operated by the Chicago Public Schools district. For more information, visit