At I Am Why, we have been busy over the past year building community, strengthening our organization, and increasing young people’s power. While the world shut down, I Am Why was nimble and had a significant impact. Here are some of the highlights of our work during 2020-2021:
- In November 2020 we published I Am Why Reclaiming the Lens, a 108-page large format hardcover art and social justice book rooted in the idea that whoever controls the lens holds the power.
- From August – December 2020 we developed and delivered virtually a 13-week leadership curriculum to young people participating in the Enough program at the Minneapolis YMCA.
- In April 2021, I Am Why young activist consultants Alondra Aragon and Xochtil Larios curated the 34th annual Solo Mujeres Exhibition at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts in San Francisco, which included art and portraits from our book and concluded with a panel discussion.
- The exhibit and book are highlighted in our video, Reclaiming the Lens, where we share the lessons we learned about young women’s leadership through the book and exhibit process.
- In August 2021 we incorporated as a charitable corporation in Massachusetts and installed a Board of Directors, who are 100% BIPOC and 60% under age 35.
- In September 2021 we hired Alondra Aragon, our first full-time Program Associate, and a young leader who worked with community-based organizations in the Bay Area and with I Am Why as a young consultant.
- In October 2021, under the leadership of young consultants Mel Harris and Aliyah Young, our racial justice team held a webinar on colorism titled Skin Deep: A Conversation About Colorism in our Community.
- In October 2021 we launched a restorative practice team under the leadership of young consultant La’Nesha Baldwin and consultant/advisor Felicia Mosely Smith, and began the process of training our young leaders to work through a restorative practice lens.
- In December 2021 Ebony Walcott, one of our young Brooklyn-based consultants, facilitated I Am Why’s first in-person workshop since the pandemic as part of our Alumni 2 Alumni series. Following our model, the five workshop participants—all alumni of Artistic Noise—are now welcomed to I Am Why as consultants.
In fall 2021 our communications team launched an op-ed project using peer and intergenerational editing and we have five op-eds in the works.
- In late 2021 our Team Lead Working Group formed with eight young women team co-leads and four advisors, and is focused on professional development and support through mentor-mentee relationships.
Now – on to 2022! We are excited to get back to in-person workshops, support the incredible work of new partners and continue growing the power of young leaders – stay tuned!
-Alondra, I Am Why program associate