Developing Grassroots Leaders

Since 2004, CAA has been developing grassroots leaders to be powerful voices in their communities. This year, we are excited to announce the graduation of 16 community members from our leadership development program!

The leadership development program empowers Chinese immigrants to be actors in social change. We provide 12 weeks of workshops and skill-based practice opportunities to teach participants about the sociopolitical system in the U.S. and how to be civically engaged. The goal is to support and inspire limited-English speaking Chinese immigrants to be active participants in their local community so they can affect change from the grassroots, rather than feeling powerless in the face of societal injustice.

Past participants have led voter outreach campaigns, advocated for better policies in City Hall, and outreached to other immigrants about their rights. Moreover, they have grown their network of friends and peers to support each other through the struggles of immigrant families adjusting to life in the U.S.

Asked about what transformations have taken place among participants, program coordinator Wai Yee Poon says: “Some participants have definitely become more vocal and outspoken in class. They are more open to sharing their opinions and analysis on race and class issues. They are also seeing themselves as active participants in a larger society — that they can be part of a cause that’s larger than any one person. That has been truly inspiring and eye opening.”

Past participants have come back to CAA as mentors, volunteers, and even staff. They have also joined City advisory committees focused on immigrant issues.

“Our vision for the participants is for them to continue working with CAA on specific campaigns and issues, so we can have more wins for the immigrant community,” added Wai Yee. “Through these relationships, we hope to continue connecting people and building a progressive Chinese voice and community.”

Community leaders will celebrate their graduation on November 29, 2017. If you are interested in learning about the program, know someone who should apply for next year’s program, or want to support the program with a donation, please contact Wai Yee Poon at wpoon[at]caasf[dot]org.

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