Finalists Announced for Young Leaders Scholarship and Grant Opportunity

October 26, 2016

We are excited to announce the five finalists for the young leaders scholarship and grant competition. Their innovative work to engage the community ranges from improv shows to grassroots organizing to a participatory action research project. We will showcase the work of these finalists during Thursday evening's reception of our national convening.

Young leaders (ages 18-30) had the chance to compete to win a scholarship to attend Everyday Democracy’s national convening in Baltimore, Md., December 8-10, 2016. Five finalist groups will present their work at the convening and three of the finalists will be awarded a grant to continue to support their work.

Applicants were judged based on criteria such as how the project addresses issues of equity, incorporates elements of Everyday Democracy’s approach to change, and the use of organizing and engagement strategies.

Let's meet the finalists:

Critical Participatory Action Research Project - Keri Frantell and Marlene Williams

"We have developed a critical participatory action research (CPAR) project in response to recent legislation passed in the state of Tennessee defunding our Diversity and Inclusion Office. This legislative change deliberately decreased equal access and equity, despite resistance from the students. Our project emphasizes research through participation resulting in action.

We are working on developing research questions in order to explore students’ perceptions toward diversity, with the hope of increasing dialogue about issues related to inequity on the campus. Once we have collected our data, we intend to extend the conversation to administrators, other community members, and legislators with the goal of advocating for students’ needs, highlighting the significant systemic inequities, and encouraging positive change. This approach to research emphasizes moving out of the academic walls and into the community and opening up dialogue among diverse individuals."


Impolitic - Zoe Hayman

"Impolitic is rooted in the theory that our communities work best when we genuinely listen to one another, and make decisions based on our collective wisdom and the best information available. We use improvised transpartisan political comedy to bring to the table people who are not traditionally engaged in political conversations, and to give participants the skills to genuinely communicate about civic issues, especially across deep divides."


Windham Youth Core - Vania Galicia and Sasha Rojas

"We want to ultimately end food injustice!

We are very democratic organization, everyones feed back is needed. We want to help our community and in order to make that happen we need to know what they need. We are constantly looking for feed back from our community. We don't only ask out that they fill out surveys, but we also talk to them one on one. We ask them what they would like to change about their diets and what is stopping them from doing so. That is how we know what our next project should be or what we need to work on more.

Without the community feed back we would be lost because we wouldn't know what they need. We want to bring change and are aware that in order to do that we must take in account everyone's needs."


Georgia Shift - Ian Bridgeforth

"Our vision is to give young people a seat at the table of democracy. We believe social change only comes by constantly providing hands-on education and direct action opportunities, keeping them engaged to train those who come after them. For example, in March of 2016 we facilitated a three-day student activism training to give young people the tools and resources to take action in their communities. In 2017, we intend to expand on our leadership development efforts by launching a six-month paid fellowship program that will give them the training, dialogue, and direct action opportunities."


Sahaba Initiative - Arbazz Muhammed and Malek Bendelhoum

"Arbazz has significantly promoted and raised awareness of diversity, equity and inclusion in American Muslim Communities in a number of ways. He has empowered Latino Muslims, African American Muslim, Immigrant Muslims and members of the general community to come together in common causes.

For the past 8 years he has organized NA/AA meetings for Muslims struggling with various forms of addiction and provided a space for them to support each other through the recovery process. He has also organized support groups for women who are victims of domestic violence and other forms of abuse. These support groups are the only available avenues for many Muslims in the Southern California community. He has also organized programs for Muslims coming out of prison to receive transitional assistance, guidance and fellowship with local community members.

Arbazz has also been a voice and proponent of interfaith and intercultural dialogue in the community. Over the years, he has hosted conversations between people of all backgrounds in the community and promote inclusiveness on issues of common ground within the Muslim community and outside of the Muslim community. Most recently when the tragedy impacted San Bernardino on December 2nd, Arbazz played a critical role in bridging the Muslim community and the general community locally bringing together more than 500 people on various occasions in solidarity and hopefulness and to promote peace in San Bernardino and Riverside counties."


What we hope to accomplish through this scholarship and grant opportunity:

Young leaders across the country are doing great work to engage people in their communities and create positive change. Our goal is to attract 20-40 of those young leaders to take part in learning and networking at our upcoming national convening. Participants will learn, connect, and share their insights with changemakers of all ages.

Our goals are to:

  • Highlight the work of young leaders at our national convening
  • Provide opportunities for learning and networking among young leaders
  • Provide support for the critical work being done by young leaders across the country
  • Build our network among young changemakers

Meet the finalists in person at our national convening in Baltimore, Md., December 8-10!

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