Thriving Rural Communities Faith Initiative: Engaging Youth as Leaders
Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!) has received a three-year planning grant from The Duke Endowment to work with United Methodist churches and faith leaders in rural North Carolina to develop a network of youth and adult partnerships to address challenges facing our rural neighbors. The Initiative, Increasing Engagement: Building Young Leaders in the Rural Church to Solve Community Problems, was recently funded by The Duke Endowment, Rural Church Division, as a pilot which seeks to reinvigorate the traditional role of the Faith community in rural areas to engage community members by applying a proven strategy of youth empowerment.
The pilot program will offer specialized training and technical assistance to support clergy, lay leaders, and parishioners as they reimagine the role of youth in comprehensive approaches to create thriving rural communities. YES! will work closely with United Methodist Church leadership, multi-denominational rural faith leaders and existing statewide community partners to strategically identify pilot sites within the Eastern, Piedmont, and Western regions of the state.
We seek to support faith leaders to identify and connect with youth through our innovative approach, both inside and outside of the congregation walls, and are committed to creating community change through social justice and an explicit, not exclusive, racial equity framework. At the core of this Initiative, we believe there are three primary shifts that are needed to achieve success in embedding youth empowerment into faith efforts:
- An expansion of existing youth engagement work to include youth from beyond the congregation walls;
- An increased understanding by faith and community leaders of racial equity and the role structural racism plays in the root causes of issues such as hunger and poverty; and
- A shift in the traditional mindset and practice of faith communities from “charity” to “justice”.
We will work to integrate theology, scripture, and the connectivity between empowerment, discipleship, and social change in order to provide specialized training and support to youth leaders of congregations that will build their skills as leaders, enhance critical awareness to assess issues and needs of their communities, and create opportunities to support community-based solutions.
When you complete the application below, please indicate your preference of being a Host Site or a Partner Site. YES! will be selecting 4-Host Sites that will serve as the county/regional lead providing physical meeting space for trainings (up to 40 participants per training), partner with YES! to coordinate logistics, food and more for trainings and meetings, and will offer ongoing support to partner sites. Partner Sites will be located in the same region as a lead Host Site and will travel to the Host location for trainings and meetings. Host and Partner Sites will function the same and will work collectively on all 3-Phases of the Pilot Initiative.
- Must be a Faith Institution, Church or Faith-based Organization
- Located in a rural community of North Carolina
- Showcase a commitment to youth empowerment and racial equity
Currently engaging youth (ages 14-18) OR willing to recruit and sustain 3-4 youth of color as organizational partners
- Determine if you are applying as a Host Site or Partner Site (you may select either)
- Willingness to travel locally within NC for Adult and Youth Leader Trainings
- Ability to advocate for policy based solutions within your local community
- A commitment to work that will integrate theology, scripture, and the connectivity between empowerment, discipleship, and social change
- A desire to enhance Christian witness in the community by transitioning from doing charitable works to being advocates for justice
- Applications due by JUNE 13, 2018
For questions please contact: Liz Styron, Liz@youthempoweredsolutions.org