Our focus on the July 19, 2009 Forward Forum is on programs that support leadership of young people in our community. Natalia Thompson joins us from "Madison SOS (Speak Out, Sister!)," (photo above) a teen-led organization uniting high school teen girls in grassroots leadership and action for social change. Also joining us is Amy Mondloch, executive director of the "The Grassroots Leadership College," (photos below) which supports the development of grassroots leaders by building skills and relationships in a supportive and challenging environment.
Both Madison SOS and The Grassroots Leadership College are characterized by their inter-generational approach to community organizing. While adult mentors are invaluable in helping young leaders learn the ropes, these programs also emphasize a two-way, interactive approach: one in which community organizers of older generations also learn valuable lessons from young people. One of our favorite discussions on Forward Forum involves an ongoing theme--the need for older, more established community organizers to honor an environment in which diverse new voices are also heard. Often, without meaning to, established community leaders end up adopting a tone that's condescending or paternalistic when working with young people, and ways need to be found to transform that dynamic.
Photos: Natalia Thompson and Amy Mondloch
An important part of the mission of both Madison SOS and Grassroots Leadership College is to create a dynamic that allows young people to actually claim the mantle of leadership in an environment where their voices are being heard and their leadership roles are actively acknowledged, and where there's a supportive framework in which their often innovative new ideas can take the form of action.
There are many ways that you can help both groups to achieve their goals.
The Grassroots Leadership College is currently recruiting adult mentors for its 2009-2010 program year, aiming to bring new people on board by an Aug. 3rd deadline. GLC is also looking ahead to a fun-filled September 13th fundraiser as they seek out help in setting the world's record for the Largest Hula Hooped Ever Hooped! All of this resonant with its statement of purpose: "Everyone a Learner. Everyone a Teacher. Everyone a Leader."
Madison SOS is launching a city-wide initiative to gather girls’ opinions and stories on the issues that matter to them. A key component of the initiative is an online survey entitled, “Speak Out! A Survey on the Issues Affecting Your Life."
If you're a local high-school-age teenage girl, or know someone who is, please follow this link to The Speak-Out Survey.
Natalia Thompson founded Madison SOS in early 2007, when she was a sophomore at West High School. (She is now a Yale-bound recent graduate of West.) Over the past two years, Madison SOS has connected teen girls of diverse backgrounds through grassroots leadership development, activism, discussion forums, citizen advocacy, and community-based art. Each Madison SOS initiative highlights local social justice issues affecting Madison girls and young women.
Grassroots Leadership College is a training program to help the Madison area residents improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods and communities.
GLC supports developing grassroots leaders by providing the opportunity to build skills and relationships in a supportive and challenging environment.
General Semester: How to Enroll as An Adult Coach/Mentor (Deadline Aug. 3rd)
The general semester is the cornerstone of the Grassroots Leadership College's work. It combines coach/ developing leader and project based models of community organizing education to create a powerful learning experience. Coaches and developing leaders take part in class together. Talented faculty draw participants into sessions in which they not only learn, but also share with and teach each other.
Outside of class sessions coaches and leaders meet to work on project of the developing leaders design. Coaches provide a listening ear and help the leader develop the project idea into reality.
For more information on the commitment involved, and sense of the rewards of developing a coaching relationship with a young community leader, contact Amy Mondloch at the Grassroots Leadership College, 1321 E. Mifflin St., Suite 201, Madison, WI 53703 | Phone: (608) 441-0085. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Link to Application
Link to Semester Calendar/Schedule for this activities involved with your commitment
Sept. 13th Hula Hoopla Event Hightlights
(SPEAK OUT, SISTERS!)
AND THEIR CURRENT EFFORT TO INVOLVE
TEEN AGE GIRLS IN SPEAKING OUT
ABOUT THE ISSUES AFFECTING THEIR LIVES
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, July 10, 2009
CONTACT: Natalia Thompson, Madison SOS Project Coordinator
608.320.3882 or email@example.com
TEEN GIRLS TO ‘SPEAK OUT!’
Great Summertime Opportunity
for Girls to Make a Difference
MADISON — Madison SOS (Speak Out, Sister!), a teen-led organization uniting high school teen girls in grassroots leadership and action for social change, is launching a city-wide initiative to gather girls’ opinions and stories on the issues that matter to them. A key component of the initiative – an online survey entitled, “Speak Out! A Survey on the Issues Affecting Your Life” – goes live today.
Madison SOS was founded in early 2007 by Natalia Thompson, then a sophomore at West High School. Over the past two years, Madison SOS has connected teen girls of diverse backgrounds through grassroots leadership development, activism, discussion forums, citizen advocacy, and community-based art. Each Madison SOS initiative highlights local social justice issues affecting Madison girls and young women.
This summer, Madison SOS is leading the creation of a Platform for Action on six key issues Madison teen girls face, including civic engagement, mental health, school climate, and sexual health. In order to explore girls’ perceptions of these issues, Madison SOS hopes to reach a representative sample of over three hundred teen girls through “Speak Out! A Survey on the Issues Affecting Your Life.” The survey places a special emphasis on students’ experiences accessing community resources and on their
ideas about solutions to current problems relating to these issues. Ultimately, the Platform for Action will be used to advocate for policies and programs that best address the needs of Madison teen girls.
Teen girls who attended a Madison high school in the 2008-2009 school year are eligible to complete the survey. Upon completing the survey, participants will be offered the opportunity to participate in a random drawing for an iPod Touch. The survey is online at www.tinyurl.com/speak-out-survey.
“Speak Out! A Survey on the Issues Affecting Your Life” is an initiative funded by the Case Foundation of Washington, D.C., which empowers citizens to identify and promote grassroots solutions to community issues. Madison SOS has also partnered with GKA Research of Madison to develop the survey and analyze results. Past Madison SOS initiatives have been co-sponsored by the ACLU of Wisconsin, the Girl Scouts of WI – Badgerland Council, the Grassroots Leadership College, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Women’s Network, the YWCA of Madison, and grassroots community groups.
Leaders of Madison SOS state: "We believe that girls’ voices matter. We believe that girls deserve to have a say in the decisions that impact their lives. And we believe that girls have the power to affect change."
A SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT NATALIA THOMPSON
On a program where the focus is on the difference that young people's contributions can make to our community, we'd be remiss not to note that guest Natalia Thompson epitomizes the potential impact that one committed young person can have on her community. Natalia is about to embark on a new adventure, having earned the right to one of a handful of coveted spots at Yale University. Listeners to our show will remember her appearance last year, in the company of School board president Arlene Silveira and School Board Member Lucy Mathiak, advocating from a student perspective about why passage of a school referendum was essential to a quality education.
A basic google search for Natalie in Madison's print media archives in the past several years shows a high school career full of accomplishment and extensive community service.
This short article below, reproduced from the website of the National ACLU, is a great illustration of the common thread that has woven itself through all of her community organizing work and writings. That's the belief that young people--and young women and girls in particular--too often go unheard regarding the issues of central importance to their own lives. In a brief but intense high school career, Natalia has done much to reverse that invisibility, and to take substantive action on the road to making bring youth perspectives front and center in our community dialogue. As someone on the cusp of adulthood, who knows what great things lie ahead for her. However, there's little doubt that this belief in young people--and the importance of older generations giving them the space and the support necessary for them to make their own way, and find their own voice--is something that Natalia is likely to carry with her in all of the accomplishments that lay ahead. It's an honor to have the opportunity to speak with her this week on Forward Forum.
Lead Story on the Website of the National ACLU
2009 Youth Activist Scholarship Winners