This past fall the Perrin Family Foundation launched the Critically Conscious Youth Development (CCYD) grant program. PFF developed this multi-year grant making and capacity building opportunity with the intention of sharing a framework that introduces a new lens for youth development programs, focused on centering identity, lived experience and political education as a core competency.

The grant program was designed to support youth organizations that embrace and advance the framework of Critically Conscious Youth Development (CCYD), to address gaps in the youth development sector, and to build a stronger bridge between youth development and youth organizing groups in CT. Program Officer Amarilis Pullen explains the Foundation’s reasoning for the strategic shift and how it aims to better support the youth-led social change field:

As we noticed in the field scan in 2013, there is a real gap in the social justice field in addressing the needs of youth development organizations and youth organizing groups. All organizations working with youth need to center identity, lived experience and political education when working with youth. These elements are necessary for youth to be truly seen, heard, and to grow youth spaces.

In the year leading up to the launch of the CCYD grant program, PFF engaged in listening and learning with grantee partners and youth organizations, including hosting a day-long workshop on critical consciousness open to anyone working with youth across the state.

While PFF has always had an open grantmaking application process, this initiative marked the first time PFF issued a specific Request for Proposals associated with a grant program. Click here to read the Request for Proposals and learn more about the research, grant program structure, and integral components of the initiative. More than 70 organizations participated in the grant information sessions, and more than 30 organizations submitted proposals. We are pleased to introduce you to the seven organizations that will be members of this cohort over the next two years:

Grow Windham Youth Program, Willimantic, CT
“Our Certified Community program is the result of the youths’ deepening cycles of inquiry regarding the local food system while trying to decide where to buy onions to make their sofrito. During the summer institute, youth define and problematize the food system by thinking about their identity as eaters and consumers, and contextualize their Community Enterprises as an alternative to an oppressive and exploitative system.”

Love Fed Initiative, New Haven, CT
“We wanted to see a change in the landscape of food in New Haven and shift power to actually center the stories, narratives, and experiences of black and brown people who are directly affected by food apartheid everyday versus the shimmering and incomplete narratives told by white leadership of all other existing food ‘justice’ groups in the area.”

ParaDYM Academy, New Britain, CT
“Our Youth Voice series has included youth campaigns focused on food justice, community policing, and children with incarcerated parents. ParaDYM youth research, write, produce, and direct videos for broadcast and streaming. ParaDYM Academy is designed to combine digital arts and social justice.”

RE-Center: Race & Equity in Education, Hartford, CT
“Young people are experts in their own lived experiences and have solutions to eliminate inequities that exist in the educational environments in which they exist.”

Save Girls on F.Y.E.R., Waterbury, CT
“Young women leave our program knowing they deserve more and are better equipped with skills to advocate for themselves. At SGOF we pride ourselves on restoring a sense of dignity that has been stolen from our black and brown girls.”

Serving All Vessels Equally, Norwalk, CT
“Fierce Conversations are about moral courage, clear requests, and taking action…through these fierce conversations we aim to redefine traditional leadership by engaging youth in difficult dialogue about society, identity, social justice, and other topics designed to foster critical thinking and a sense of community.”

Writer’s Block, Ink, New London, CT
“Our organization is conscious of the fact that the young people we serve are predominantly youth of color who are wrestling with racial injustices on various levels, given their lived experiences. Because of this, we are constantly learning through trainings, workshops, research, and creative exploration as to how these injustices function and how we can be part of dismantling them.”