My name is Madeleine Ranson, and five years ago when I received my scholarship for the
Community Leadership Institute (CLI), I had no idea that my life was about to change for the better. It was at CLI that my passion for social justice was fostered, and through the community resources and networks I gained at CLI I was able to make significant social change in my high school, and later at Pitzer College where I am now a senior.
When I first arrived at CLI I had no idea what to expect. As a white seventeen-year-old girl, I was confident in my liberal politics and overly optimistic view of the world. Learning from both the life experiences of other participants and the workshops and exercises on systemic oppression, opened my eyes. I began to understand the ways in which I was privileged and the importance of allyship - not only to my fellow participants who remain some of my closest friends, but to the diverse communities that made up my public high-school, downtown neighborhood, and city as a whole.
When I returned from CLI, I was bursting with passion and an urgent need to apply all that I had learned in order to make a difference in the lives of others. I immediately joined Just Communities' Change Agent Network for Dismantling Oppression (CANDO) Leadership Team, and was also elected co-president of the S.P.E.A.K. Against Hate Club at my high school (which had been started years earlier by past CLI grads). Later that semester, I founded the Friendship Club, which worked to integrate special education students into the general population of my high school, and to dismantle discrimination against special needs students on campus. Later that school year, I also testified to the school board about the importance of making higher level classes more accessible to all students. I was recognized for these accomplishments by the mayor of Santa Barbara when I became the Santa Barbara Teen Leader of 2010.
I would not have been able to accomplish any of these goals without extensive support from Just Communities, and would not have had the impetus to take action without the knowledge I gained at CLI. CLI has truly changed the trajectory of my life. My decision to apply to and attend Pitzer College was based on the school's commitment to social justice. My involvement on campus and plans for the future can be directly attributed to CLI and all the support that Just Communities has given me.
CLI has changed my outlook on the world, my goals for the future, and has given me lifelong friends and an amazing support system. Had my application for a scholarship not been granted, I cannot imagine that I would have the passion and commitment that I still hold today for making our community a better place.
CLI is important not only for youth, but for everyone in our communities.Please help the sustainability of this vital program by making a meaningful donation to CLI today. The dollars you give will have a life-long impact by unlocking the passion and potential of students like me.
Thank you for your support,
If every CLI graduate gave just $25 a year by 2023 CLI would be fully funded by the generosity of graduates alone. You can help reach us meet this goal. Please make a donation to CLI today. The dollars you give will make a lasting impact in the life of a student.
"My experience is all thanks to you! I've never been happier in my life and I've never made so many deep connections with other students!
Thank you for helping my eyes open and my life change!"- Katelyn H, CLI 2013
CLI Builds Leadership on 3 Levels
The Head: Profound and impacted learning is at the core of CLI. Participants engage in dialogue, interactive activities, and workshops to tackle issues related to racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, and other injustices that divide our community.
"The sooner you go through CLI in High School, the easier your High School experience will be.
When you know how systems of oppression, social justice, and society work, then you can start changing the world."
- Luis E, CLI 2009
The Heart: Heightened self-awareness and increased empathy for others are also central to CLI. Participants engage in honest and unfiltered dialogue with other youth about issues that affect daily life and their futures.
"CLI provided a safe space for me to talk about my life experience and let go of my emotions. I have been able to connect with people that relate to my experience so we know we are not alone."
-Andrea H. CLI 2013
The Hand: CLI prepares participants to put learning into action. They gain tools needed to become leaders in their communities around issues of justice in high school, leading into college and careers.
"CLI taught me how to educate myself and how to educate those around me. I learned a lot of skills that I carry with me to this day." -Olivia R, CLI 2011