Sunday, July 15, 2018

Congratulations to the 2016-2017 Graduates of the Center for Neighborhood Leadership Apprenticeship Program!

Congratulations to the 2016-2017 Graduates of the Center for Neighborhood Leadership Apprenticeship Program!

Recently, we celebrated the graduation of a phenomenal class of organizing apprentices with the Center for Neighborhood Leadership (CNL). We are very proud of the graduates and all they have accomplished in the past 10 months!

The graduation ceremony was held at the Urban Justice Center’s office in Lower Manhattan, and many friends, family members and supporters of the graduates and of CNL were in attendance. The program started off with remarks by CNL trainers Ericka Stallings and Angelica Otero, who congratulated the graduating class and described the incredible growth they witnessed in the apprentices over the last 10 months. “You are an embodiment of why we exist,” said Otero, who – after being with the CNL program for four years – is leaving to focus on her organization BronxPower and her soon-to-be bundle of joy.

Keynote speeches were then made by two honored guests, Mo George, Executive Director of Picture the Homeless, and Fahd Ahmed, Executive Director of Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM). George, who has decades of experience as an organizer, told the graduating class that if they think of organizing as a job, they probably won’t be doing it for more than a few years. Instead, “it has to be a calling,” George urged. Ahmed echoed a similar sentiment. “If you love it,” he said. “There is nothing better than doing this work.”

The speeches continued with remarks by two members of the graduating class, who were elected by their peers to speak at the program. Shanice Brim and Amanda Marino commented on their experiences in the program – the ups as well as the downs – and offered their hopes and advice for the future. Shanice spoke about imagining a world that does not yet exist is difficult, drawing attention to the challenge of not only reacting to an unjust world, but also to being proactive about creating a better one.

The graduates were then called up one by one to receive their certificates. A reception followed the program with music, wine, and delicious food from A-Pou’s Taste, a street vendor with the Street Vendor Project. Graduates and their friends and families mingled with each other, all with big smiles beaming with pride.  Click here to see photos from the event.

The past 10 months of the CNL Organizing Apprenticeship program have been challenging and filled with joy and accomplishment. Here are some of the highlights:

  • CNL apprentices organized around a diverse range of issues, from financial education to transit equity to gender justice
  • CNLers helped organize cultural events such as Bed-Stuy Pride
  • They assisted hundreds of tenants in forming tenant associations and helped people in danger of losing their homes get the resources and information they needed
  • They conducted community awareness events and “Know Your Rights” trainings that reached hundreds of individuals
  • They worked with various immigrant communities in New York City representing over 15 different countries of origin
  • They organized rallies, town halls, and community meetings reaching hundreds of people
  • And so much more!

Big congratulations to the graduating class, and best of luck on your future endeavors! We look forward to seeing all that these graduates accomplish in their work fighting for justice, building power, and creating a safer, more equitable world.


Eliza Hetterly, Intern with ANHD

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