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'Funding diverse, equitable, and inclusive youth fellowships': A commentary by Rachele Tardi and Zachary Turk

September 23, 2021

Report_osf_the_time_is_nowThe time is now: Funding diverse, equitable, and inclusive youth fellowships

In 2017, Open Society Foundations launched a global Community Youth Fellowship Program — a collaborative grantmaking initiative focused on engaging young people as individual grantees through a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens. The program allowed us to address crucial questions such as: How can philanthropy use an equity-centered approach to support young activists to build their leadership and a leadership pipeline in their communities? How can young activists be supported to work collaboratively, building solidarity across movements and generations? In our new report, The Time Is Now: Funding Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Youth Fellowships (English and Spanish, PDF), we reflect on lessons learned and positive practices in this work and interrogate our own approach.

Centering equity in processes

One of our key aims in developing our fellowship program was to support young activists in their own communities, for we understood that the ideas, solutions, and debates that arise within the community itself are the most impactful and transformative. Through this lens, we sought to expand the leadership pipeline for young activists from communities who experience multiple forms of structural oppression and face high barriers to civic participation.

Our initial emphasis was on intellectually and developmentally disabled activists. By identifying and involving disabled youth as fellows, we sought to help dismantle the prejudices of ableism and promote disability rights. Further, by rethinking grantmaking procedures and centering principles of justice, equity, and inclusion in our processes, we strove to advance a vision in which all areas of work can and must be aligned with program values....

Read the full commentary by Rachele Tardi and Zachary Turk.

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