This is part three in “Powerful Ripples of Change,” a blog series celebrating the work of Convergence Partnership’s grantees that sit at the intersection of racial justice and health equity. Check out our first and second blog posts to learn more about the series.
Powerful Ripples of Change: Growing Civic Power for Systemic Change That Lasts Generations
Breaking down barriers to civic engagement and growing political power are integral parts of building long-term community power and self determination. Our grantees, Destination Innovation, The Community / La Comunidad, and Omni Circle Group, are showing up for their communities by investing in young people’s leadership, making government services more accessible, and demystifying the political process.
Growing civic participation and political power reinforces and strengthens the narrative power of communities to frame the stories about their lives, and put forth solutions grounded in the context of their lives. This fully integrated civic, economic and narrative power is a prosperous cycle that supports community health and well being for generations.
Destination Innovation is investing in the next generation in Wichita, Kansas through youth development programs that focus on entrepreneurship, civic participation, and leadership programs for young people who have interacted with the juvenile justice system. Their program, Root The Power, educates young people about the voting process and get out the vote tactics such as phone banking and encouraging early voting. Interns also organize and moderate candidate forums to help keep the dialogue going. Using a racial and economic justice lens, their programs show how important it is to invest and uplift young people in the community.
The Community / La Comunidad is supporting immigrant communities in Garden City, Kansas throughout the citizenship process. They offer citizenship classes to help prepare people for the naturalization process, including clarifying the process and how to travel internationally in a way that won’t jeopardize their eligibility. For new citizens, The Community / La Comunidad helps them register to vote and engage in civic life. They’ve also recognized that transportation access is a huge barrier for folks living well, so are offering classes to help people get their driver’s license and have successfully expanded access to get translation services offered in 3 additional languages. Their work shows how removing barriers to services can create a pathway for civic engagement and connection.
Omni Circle Group operates a community workspace where entrepreneurs, small businesses, and changemakers can come together to connect and collaborate in Topeka, Kansas. They offer programs that focus on community building, leadership development, and business collaboration. With the launch of their workspace, they’ve also been able to turn their attention to implementing a youth mentorship program to invest in the next generation of local leaders. By building up the confidence and skills of African American leaders in the community, they hope to provide a pathway to local leadership in government so that their elected officials better reflect the community and elevate community priorities.