On Saturday, April 10th, 2021, 78 young leaders from across the country came together for the first-ever New American Youth Leadership Council (NAYLC) training, hosted by the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), and supported by the Western Union Foundation. Youth leaders, ranging between 15 and 24 years of age, introduced themselves, learned about the 16-week program they would embark on, and shared more about their personal, educational, and leadership development goals for the duration of the program and beyond.
NAYLC youth are grounded within four organizations in the NPNA network (Asian Pacific Development Center, CASA, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, and Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition). For many of them, this is their first encounter with a community organizing curriculum. Although some were shy and others more comfortable sharing publicly, the youth voiced personal goals that included growing their voice to speak publicly on issues they care about, meeting new people across the country, and beginning the process of mapping out their career interests in a variety of sectors. Many youths are participating in Western Union Foundation’s mentorship program and have been matched one-to-one with Western Union mentors to guide them in navigating higher ed and career choices in both the public and private sector.
Within the first three weeks of the program, students have already identified feeling more comfortable within the cohort, excitement towards building community with one another and inspired by each other’s stories. In the last class reflections, Juan noted feeling “empowered. I feel really happy and comfortable”. In their story of self workshop, students broke into small triads and took roles sharing, active listening, and being scribe. On that experience, Grace shared “The best part was telling my story. My story was about finding myself better in my Asian culture. As a transracial adoptee, I didn’t realize how important ethnic and racial identity was to me. Talking about this experience was relieving. I also liked hearing everyone else’s stories.” Students will continue to deepen their cohort through breakout spaces, workshops, and dialogues – the story of self was foundational in preparing them for the public narrative workshops to come.
Over the next six months, NAYLC will train 100 immigrant and refugee youth leaders of color ages 15 to 24 to help develop their leadership and deeper community engagement with both NPNA and their host organizations. NAYLC fellows will receive mentorship from leaders across NPNA’s network and will engage with an intersectional curriculum on movement work and community organizing. The inaugural cohort’s work will culminate with in-person convening at the National Immigrant Integration Conference in October where they will co-design the agenda, meet, and engage in powerful sessions on community organizing by youth for youth. in person.
“Youth leadership development is imperative to sustain and propel social change as we continue to advocate for the full inclusion and integration of immigrants, refugees, and communities for color. When we invest in leadership, we invest in our future and this program is a powerful example of that,” said Nicole Melaku, NPNA’s executive director.
NPNA is honored to partner with Western Union Foundation to grow the NAYLC program and truly watch the first cohort of youth leaders blossom this year.
The Western Union Foundation supports programs like NPNA’s around the world, to help migrants and refugees to build the skills needed for a successful career. Learn more about our work at our website and follow us on Twitter.