Meet the 2023 Nielson Social Change Innovation Grant Recipients
Two exceptional student innovators were each awarded 5K for project proposals that seek to create positive social change within their communities. Read about their projects below that will be implemented between June-August 2023.
Two exceptional student innovators were awarded 5K for project proposals that seek to create positive social change within their communities. The Nielson Social Change Innovation Grant provides Lewis & Clark College undergraduate students with funds to cover costs such as equipment or technology, educational resources, travel expenses, or other items used to strengthen grassroots efforts for progressive, systemic social change.
This is the second year the Center for Social Change and Community Involvement has offered the grant, which was made possible through the generosity of Patrick Nielson ’71 and his wife Dorris Nielson.
Read about the student-led projects below that will be implemented between June-August 2023.
Future Leader Program - with One Help One Direction Ihumure
By Amani Rene Pacifique
Amani Rene Pacifique is my name, and I am a peace activist. I dedicated my life to helping the most vulnerable members of my community, especially the children. In 2016, I established the nonprofit “One Help One Direction Ihumure” organization, which focuses on the generational trauma transmitted and is based in Rwanda/Kigali. The organization offers several kinds of programs, all of which are centered on a trauma-informed perspective. The Future Leader Program is the most effective endeavor the organization has ever undertaken to provide young people with a platform for developing their leadership and entrepreneurship skills. The Future Leader Program offers a one-week boot camp to boys and girls between the ages of 17 and 20 who are from traumatic backgrounds. The goal of the program is to give them a secure space to express themselves while simultaneously preparing them for the future. We picture them as the community’s newest game-changers and as individuals with successful stories of their own. I firmly believe that investing in youth by teaching them and providing them with resources is the best way to change the world. This is everything that we do in the organization, and all I want to see is for those children to develop into peacemakers.
Revive Armenian Youth
Hi! I am Mikayel Kamendatyan, a junior International Affairs and History double major from Armenia (a tiny developing country in the South Caucasus with a population of 3 million people). I am extremely interested in public policy and development and have organized and been involved in numerous projects aimed at social reform. I consider targeted education and community-shaping to be the engines for reaching out to specific groups of people in order to solve various social problems at the grassroots. One of my projects aimed at bringing about positive change is Revive Armenian Youth, and I am extremely excited to introduce you to it.
Revive Armenian Youth is thrilled to organize sessions of free mini-summer camps throughout Armenia for youth aged 14-21. Our camps are designed to create a safe and healthy community in order to prevent youth from the low-income districts of the capital city Yerevan from engaging in online gambling, drug abuse, and other destructive activities such as crime, which are currently gaining huge momentum in Yerevan. While there is not much tangible action from the government to solve the problems, we consider it our responsibility to take certain actions to change the course of the events. We are dedicated to promoting our objectives through education, team-building, games, and community-oriented activities that are completely free for our target group. Our summer camps will take place at various camping sites throughout Armenia and will be 2-3 days long. We will offer quality team-building activities, hiking trips, discussions about the importance of youth, education sessions about the harmful effects of drug abuse and gambling, and more. Our goal is to empower youth to give up unhealthy habits and commit to school, sports, and community service. We aim to create an attractive community for teens where they want to stay involved and offer a healthy engagement alternative to destructive habits. We also organize weekly club meetings and activities throughout the year, which are designed to keep our engaged youth motivated and active. In our clubs, we will organize movie screening sessions followed by discussions, different workshops such as learning foreign languages, trivia nights, game nights, book-discussion sessions, one-to-one conversations, and speaker events promoting moral decision-making, finding purpose, increasing self-worth, and defining and achieving goals. Our ultimate focus is education, as we consider it an asset that can never be stolen or lost. Revive Armenian Youth is committed to providing a positive and supportive environment for young people in Armenia, where they can learn, grow, and thrive, and we believe that our efforts will have a lasting impact on the future of our society.
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