Grassroots Leadership Program
This spring, the Leadership Programs office piloted a Grassroots Leadership program for students. Twelve students were selected to participate in the program, which began in January with a three-day retreat at Montara Farm in Clermont, Georgia. During the retreat, students were introduced to the Social Change Model of Leadership as well as the Midwest Academy’s model for community organizing. Over the course of the weekend, students learned the importance of identifying an issue and developing a strategy to address social justice issues in the community. The students divided into three teams to determine an issue and develop a campaign. Over the course of eight weekly workshops, students had the opportunity to meet local community organizers and learn about skills needed for organizing including meeting with public officials, recruiting and developing leaders, online organizing tools, and coalition building. The program concluded in March with presentations by each of the three groups with their proposed plans for addressing a community issue. The presentations covered the following topics: community and police relations, abstinence-plus sex education, and affordable housing for students.
Ugo Ume, a graduate student, commented about her experience with the program. “The Grassroots Leadership Program was a truly transformational program for me. I was able to hear from a diverse group of students who had different experiences, but all shared the same goal of social justice and change.” Kristina Clement, Director of Leadership Programs, stated, “This was a unique opportunity for our office to provide students with the skills needed to enact change. We often talk with students about creating change, but have not helped them figure out a process for actually facilitating a change process. Through skills workshops and presentations by community organizers, the students were able to understand the challenges to creating social change, but also hear about the immense rewards for making a difference.”