Cultivating Leadership for Social Justice is EC’s foremost community leadership development program. Its mission is to support rising rural and urban community and youth leaders and collaborate with them in their efforts to organize, build and lead community projects and policy-changing campaigns.
These leadership training sessions are gatherings of a small cohort of community members in which they engage in seminar style dialogues facilitated by EC. The dialogues are designed for community members to cultivate a critical consciousness and develop their power. We accomplish this by working together to empower each other and grow together as a community while becoming more aware of our surroundings and gain an understanding of the invisible barriers within institutional and governmental systems that maintain an imbalanced power structure between community members and decision-makers. We then move into decoding the power structures and the law making process. With the knowledge of this framework, the program then aims which leads to grow our policy advocacy and community organizing skills by sharing practical planning and strategic tools to build and organize community projects and policy campaigns.
At the conclusion of the program, EC supports community leaders taking their newly established critical consciousness, advocacy and organizing skills to their community to exercise their agency within their neighborhoods, communities, institutions and governmental bodies. The EC facilitates this process by hosting monthly community meetings where collectively we create a framework for meaningful policy changes for their community, explicitly in the areas of education, health, economic prosperity, and neighborhood infrastructure.
Community-based education framework with the following characteristics:
Its curriculum comes out of the concrete experience and material interests of people in communities.
Its pedagogy is collective, focused primarily on the group as distinct from individual learning and development.
It attempts, wherever possible, to forge a direct link between education and social action.
The process by which individuals apply critical thinking skills to examine their current situations, develop a deeper understanding of their concrete reality, and devise, implement, and evaluate solutions to their problems.
A disciplined process of inquiry conducted by and for those taking the action. The primary reason for engaging in action research is to assist the “actor” in improving and/or refining his or her actions.
The focus of each research project is determined by the researchers, who are also the primary consumers of the findings.
Community and youth develop their leadership through a series of workshops and group activities by reflecting on their identities, communities, and experiences. The youth perspective plays a central role in future learning and project selection.
Community and youth cultivate critical consciousness, as they come together and apply critical thinking skills to discussions about their communities, how community conditions impact them, and how they can join in taking action to improve their lives and the lives of their communities.
Community and youth engage in action research by deepening their understanding of the realities they face daily and conducting research on the problems they face along with the possible solutions.
Project plan and implementation
Through a process of consensus-building, community members determine the project or policy they will actualize.
EC facilitates this process through supporting, organizing, fundraising and working alongside the community leaders through the project or campaign completion.
As a result
Community members embrace their autonomy
Community members recognize their power
Community members exercise their agency
Community members step into their leadership