INSPIRED IMPACT is an ongoing blog series that gives voice to purpose-driven organizations and passionate leaders and entrepreneurs who are making an impact in their communities and industries.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
Project VOYCE is a grassroots, community-based youth advocacy nonprofit located in Denver, Colorado. Project VOYCE’s programs aim to build a movement of young people in Denver by activating youth of color to step into their power as transformational leaders. Through in-depth popular political education and leadership trainings, youth employment, and youth organizing, Project VOYCE activates underrepresented youth to organize for housing and transit equity, economic opportunity, educational justice, and health justice in their communities.
WHY DO YOU DO IT?
Project VOYCE envisions a world with diverse leadership for a more just and equitable society. Our mission is to develop future leaders in underrepresented communities by training, employing, and organizing youth to work on real-life school and community challenges today.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
Project VOYCE is making a significant impact on Denver’s youth through training, employment, and organizing. Last summer, more than 125 hours of in-depth leadership and advocacy training was delivered, during which our youth delved into deep discussion about social inequality, social identity, privilege, power, and oppression. Youth then learned tools such as leadership, action research, community organizing/advocacy, and youth-adult partnerships to address issues facing their communities on a local and state level. Youth collected more than 200 surveys from members in the community on issues of gentrification and lack of student voice in education. At the end of the program, the two groups of students focusing on 1) anti-displacement policies and 2) policies to increase democracy presented their arguments to an audience of more than 250 people including teachers, parents, legislators, community members, activists, etc.
In addition to our training component, Project VOYCE’s youth are making an impact through their advocacy. One of our VOYCE Academy participants led a press conference and advocated for more affordable housing at city council meeting which resulted in media coverage of “Our Community is Not for Sale” campaign on the front page of the Denver Post. A Project VOYCE alumna also received coverage in The New York Times about her family’s experience with displacement due to the I-70 expansion. In December, youth from the VOYCE Academy helped lead a “Ditch the Ditch” town-hall at Focus Points in Elyria-Swansea around the I-70 expansion and its impact on the Globeville Elyria-Swansea community’s health, housing, and economy. The town-hall gathering had more than 75 community members present.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO MAKE THIS IMPACT?
We are continuously inspired by the work of our youth leaders making real, long-term change in their communities. Every day we come to work we get to see the power of the next generation of leaders for equity and justice.
WHAT’S YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE ORGANIZATION AND THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
Our big dream is to spark the next generation of youth activists to step into their power as transformational leaders. Ultimately, our dream is for youth to be on the forefronts of building autonomous communities.
WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THOSE DREAMS COME TRUE?
Building a movement of young activists requires financial capital, social capital, and political capital. A strategic goal related to resource development over the next years is to increase our grassroots fundraising. We are always looking for new and innovative ways to secure resources to fulfill our mission.
WHAT IS (OR HAS BEEN) YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
As a five person staff, our biggest challenge to date is having the internal capacity to meet the increasing demand for our programming.
WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER LEADERS LOOKING TO MAKE AN IMPACT?
Never let your vision stray away from you! Let your vision guide you both in your challenges and in your victories.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
You can support Project VOYCE in a variety of ways:
1) plug into one of our campaigns by volunteering your time
2) become a part of our movement by making a donation to the organization
3) connect us to businesses who may be interested in sponsoring Project VOYCE
4) donate food to our monthly regional meeting with our youth leaders
5) tell a friend about our work!