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  • Writer's pictureLizeth Antonio

How do we support individuals to transform into roles of leadership?

When our program is accepting applications, we use various methods to reach out to potential candidates such as face-to-face interactions and digital outreach. However, most of our applicants come to know about the program through word of mouth from community groups that we present to. During our Application Help Sessions, we come to hear about what potential applicants would like to see in their community. We often hear applicants express that they do not see themselves as the person to lead the idea they have in mind. Our team provides digital training and coaching to support these individuals. By offering encouragement and assurance of our ongoing support, most potential applicants are inspired to apply. After completing the program, these individuals often come to see themselves as leaders in their community.

Such is the experience of Laura Hernandez. She came to learn about the Wellbeing Microgrant Program through her participation in “Tejiendo Nuestros Sueños”- a knitting circle for mothers and women to decompress from daily stress led by her close friend, Gabriela. Through this project, Gabriela inspired Laura to apply and share her skills in creating sustainable art. Before becoming a Microgrant Leader in the program, Laura was an active artisan in a collective formed by 18th Street Arts Center where she crafted and sold upcycled art pieces. Laura had initially expressed that she did not have experience leading a group of people in the role of a leader, however, she was determined to bring awareness to environmental wellbeing through sharing sustainable art skills with her community. 

Laura received a grant to lead her “Manos a la obra con Amor” project, a series of Spanish-led workshops to learn how to upcycle and craft. Each week Laura provided decorative and recycled materials she had saved up to set the craft of the week. She encouraged her participants to think about the materials they used throughout the week that could be upcycled such as beverage bottles, cans, jars, and more. This helped her participants increase their consciousness about sustainability in their daily lives. Participants reflected: 

Translated from Spanish to English

  • I learned to make art out of materials that no longer served other people. Above all, I learned to take care of our environment better.

  • Not only did I learn how to make beautiful works with recyclables, but I was also able to spend time with beautiful people.

  • I learned how to make art. My best time was when we transformed a plastic bottle into a planter with soil and plants that really don't need to be put in a lot of water- it was a new way for me to save water and continue recycling.

Leaders like Laura are supported by essential tools such as the Wellbeing Microgrant Handbook, which provides step-by-step guidance through the program and details the support offered through our connections. Recipients are walked through uploading files on Google Drive, creating digital flyers via Canva, and event planning and outreach guides. Additionally, we conduct two-hour sessions at a local computer lab, called "Flyers and Surveys Workshop", where we provide guidance and support to individuals who require access to and assistance with technology. This ultimately helps our staff to work alongside the leader in owning and/or strengthening their leadership skills.

In Laura’s final reflections about her project, she shared that the resources provided to her by our team were instrumental in helping her acquire new skills to execute the project successfully. She also highlighted that her workshops led her to realize her ability to make an impact on her participant’s awareness of sustainable efforts in easy and enjoyable ways. This allowed her to see herself as a leader in her community. She shares:

Translated from Spanish to English

“The change I saw was how all the participants let their imagination run wild with art and recyclables together, what I liked the most is that I could see how each participant brings new recyclable material to continue working with it. One of the things that surprised me was that these workshops allowed participants to connect with new members of the community."

How would you support leadership in your community?


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