My name is Tomás Perez, and I work for Alliance San Diego, in the communications department. Before I joined the organization full-time, I enrolled in Alliance San Diego’s Neighborhood Rising Institute (NRI), a 10-day summer leadership program designed to prepare community leaders to become rockstar grassroots organizers. If this is your first time hearing about us, Alliance San Diego is a community empowerment organization that works to ensure that all people can achieve their full potential in an environment of harmony, safety, equality and justice.
This program did so much to prepare me to go out into my community to create real change. Thanks to NRI, we were able to register 500 voters in my community. I wouldn’t have been able to do that myself. The program is from August 18 to August 29, 2018, and the deadline to apply is August 7th. If you’re thinking about applying, here are some reasons why you should!
Learn grassroots organizing and coalition building skills.
If you want to learn the basics of what grassroots and community activism, NRI is a great place to start. Skilled and respected community leaders share their knowledge and experience in creating change that starts in the community and grows. The strategies that are taught are the same strategies used by community organizers across the region. These are proven strategies that have helped move policies for the benefit of all, whether it’s immigration, government accountability or priorities in our city budget and more.
Make an impact at the local, state, and national level
If you look around and see injustice happening and you want to make a change, but don’t know where to start, NRI will help you! We understand the local, statewide and national political and social landscape and take a deep dive into breaking down key issues. So, whether your background in social justice is formal or informal, everything is quick to learn.
Develop your leadership style and build up your confidence
NRI taught me both in the classroom, and out in the community, how to be an effective leader and help move my community forward with confidence. Each participant will receive a $500 stipend and have a chance to reflect on how they view themselves and their leadership roles, and go out to engage with neighbors and community members. Getting that experience boosted my confidence to go out and be an example of the change I want to see.
Gain field experience doing community outreach
The field experience was my favorite part of the NRI program. In my opinion, it is the most important aspect because this is where our actions help create tangible change. We go into underserved communities to educate our neighbors and empower them to use their voice through voting, signing petitions, or simply talking to friends or family about the issues that impact them the most. As a cohort, you would help do outreach to hundreds, if not thousands, of people.
Make lasting connections with other leaders in the community
NRI introduced to me some of the most driven people I know. Many of us would take what we learned from NRI to go on and work for political campaigns, or even to create new grassroots organizations. Some of my cohort members are my coworkers here at Alliance San Diego, and some of them are my friends who stand beside me in the movement. Surrounding myself with people who are motivated to help others pushes me to be better and I hope it will push you too.