Ashoka Changemakers and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation launched the Building Vibrant Communities: Activating Empathy to Create Change challenge to discover and support innovative ideas that activate empathy to nourish stronger, more vibrant communities and future changemakers. The competition received more than 200 entries from Northern California community organizations.
October 22, The Respect Institute was named one of the six global winners, receiving an IDEA PRIZE of $50,000.00 to implement the project below. The winners were announced at the Packard Foundation’s 50th Anniversary Open House, during which winners and challenge finalists had the opportunity to share their ideas with local community members in attendance. Read more.
“So much exciting work to foster empathy is happening in our five-county region and neighboring communities,” said Carol Larson, President and CEO of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. “We are particularly encouraged by the six winning organizations which are actively cultivating empathy skills. It is their hope and ours that local communities will be strong and vibrant places where future generations can reach their full potential as community builders and problem solvers.”
After remarks by Carol Larson, Susan Packard Orr (Chair of the Packard Foundation Board of Directors), and the foundation’s first president, Cole Wilbur, and Bill Drayton (CEO and Founder of Ashoka) took the podium to announce the winners.
“Empathy is a crucial skill for creating social change,” said Bill Drayton, CEO and Founder of Ashoka. “By activating empathy in their communities, the winners of the challenge are paving the way for a world where everyone can become a changemaker and tackle the issues that matter to them most.”
Drayton remarked that what is innovative about Ri’s project is that were focus on increasing the capacity for empathy and self-respect in youth influencers, not just youth alone.
The winners were selected by a panel of judges that included luminaries and thought leaders Cedric Brown (Managing Partner of Kapor Center for Social Impact), Linda Burch (Chief Education and Strategy Officer of Common Sense Media), Christina Ballantyne (Principal of San Miguel Elementary School), Dr. Fred Luskin (Director of Stanford University Forgiveness Projects), and Sterling Speirn (Past President and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Congrats to the other inspiring winners: Playworks, San Jose State University’s Collaborative for Reaching and Teaching the Whole Child, Soul Shoppe, The First Tee of Monterey County and Rising International.
Separately, this summer Ri also was awarded a Diversity in Grantmaking grant of $45,000.00 from the Packard Foundation to expand our Respect 360 program in Silicon Valley—specifically among Latino “opportunity youth.” According to the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley, nearly one quarter of Latino high school students here drop out of school—and this rate is climbing. Additionally, only about one third have had some college or completed a college education, compared to nearly 80% of non-Latinos. As part of The Santa Clara Opportunity Youth Partnership, we are part of a collaborative that will implement a collective impact model to better connect resources for the county’s opportunity youth (ages 16–24) who are not engaged in school or work. Partners ranging from education to foster care to probation have all said that they need a self-respect-building framework added to the model. We will play this role.
Vulnerable youth need respect. We empower youth influencers with a coaching method and toolkit to nurture their and youths’ self-respect, resiliency and compassion. These adults create the caring connections youth crave and together they create a world based on: “I matter. You matter.”
When you work with vulnerable youth, you get hit hard with compassion fatigue. Yet youth who are trapped in cycles of disrespect—violence, racial inequality, poverty, the school suspension to prison pipeline and trauma—need compassion from caring youth influencers more than anyone. To break cycles of disrespect, and become leaders of change, vulnerable youth need to see it to be it.
I was a vulnerable Latina teen in Santa Clara County—an empathetic probation officer amplified my strengths and re-directed me to lead. Now we build this capacity in youth influencers via Respect 360. It’s a training, coaching method and trauma-informed toolkit that’s improved social-emotional and resiliency outcomes for 30,000 U.S. youth since 2010. To reach 1,000s of Silicon Valley Latino youth by 2015, we’ll train partners—The Boys & Girls Club, Planned Parenthood, law enforcement—to nurture self-respect and be more effective mentors. For a year or more, they’ll practice The Respect Basics (e.g. Tell Your Truth, Get Help, Have Courage) with youth in groups or 1-on-1, learning together: “I am unique contributor to the greater whole.”