A project of the Center for Community Change

Generation Change

This summer the Center for Community Change has launched a landmark new internship program that is a part of our larger project “Generation Change”. The goal of generation change is to improve the field of organizing, to connect new and mid-career organizer with mentors and resources for professional development, and to create opportunities for the development of new leaders.

As a part of working towards this mission Generation Change has started an incredible national internship program where youth receive training and leadership development skills as they work for grassroots organizations across the country. This program was highly competitive and this year’s recruits are doing a spectacular job! I had the opportunity to meet Catalina and Amelia working with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition in Nashville just a few weeks ago. From heading up a workshop on local media, to helping a delegation of local leaders come to Washington, DC for a recent march for immigrant rights, these young women really impress.

We recently found this article about some of other interns, and I wanted to share it with you as inspiration for what the future of organizing can hold;

Interns look to bring change;
Work with Bull City nonprofits focuses on minority groups

BYLINE: Andrew Dunn news@heraldsun.com; 419-6647

Two interns spent the day Monday driving around the city, getting acquainted with the major players in the community.
While this might sound like something anybody starting a job would do, these two are not in your typical coffee-ordering or copy-making kind of internship.

Their goal is to change the community’s balance of power.
“We’re trying to find leaders in the community, basically by word of mouth,” said Allison Zirkel, a UNC School of Social Work student and new intern through the Generation Change program. “We’re trying to build a base of power so we can work with the government and big business.”

She and Idonea “Kyna” Lewis are working with Durham CAN — Congregations, Associations and Neighborhoods — and will be working on finding community concerns as they relate to development and grants.

“We’re trying to pull the key people together,” Zirkel said. “The community isn’t well-organized.”
Generation Change is run by the Center for Community Change in Washington, D.C.
Founded in the late 1960s in part by the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Fund, it focuses on creating “positive change in low income communities, particularly in communities of color,” according to the group’s Web site.

The two Durham nonprofit organizations hosting interns, Durham CAN and the N.C. Latino Coalition, share an office on Holloway Street. Both groups have a special focus on minority groups.

Durham CAN is a community-organizing foundation that aims to build relationships across racial, social and religious boundaries.

In the past, the foundation has audited after-school programs, organized testing of lead levels in elementary schools and run a non-partisan get-out-the-vote campaign.

Both interns at Durham CAN are pursuing master’s degrees.
Lewis is a Durham native who received a bachelor’s degree from UNC in 2001 and is working on a master’s degree in Business Administration and Management of Information Systems at N.C. Central University.

Zirkel grew up in Wisconsin before moving to Chapel Hill and received a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She waited tables and worked with an autistic child during her undergraduate study at UNC.

She did a less-involved internship with Durham CAN this past school year. She said she spent that time mostly learning, and hopes to be more active this summer.

“Now I can focus more,” she said. “I can put more energy into it.”
The N.C. Latino Coalition is also a non-partisan organization, one that works to develop leadership and promotes immigration reform and better housing for farm workers.

In 2006, the group supported protest marches against anti-immigrant legislation.
This summer’s intern, Jordan Gregson, spent a year and a half at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, then studied last semester in Nicaragua to learn about Latino culture and the Spanish language.

Ivan Parra, one of the coalition’s directors, said Gregson will be working on strengthening relationships between the Latino community and those of other races, particularly blacks, and also raising Latino participation in elections.

He will do this by working to improve Hispanic participation in several multiracial organizations across the state, including some in Forsyth and Orange counties.

“For a long time, they have had minor participation with immigrants, but not enough to change the demographics,” Parra said. “The Latino Coalition has the other piece of the pie.”

The internship begins with a four-day training session in Nashville, Tenn. The interns then scatter about the country for 10 weeks, receiving $375 per week from the host organization.

More than 200 applications were received for 25 internships.
Last year, only 10 interns were selected, and all worked at the organization’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Interns this year are working with grass-roots nonprofits in Washington D.C., New York City, Tennessee and North Carolina. Those working in Tennessee and North Carolina must be residents of the states.

Organizations in Winston-Salem, Charlotte and Raleigh also are hosting interns.

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