Hi, my name is Dakari Finister and I’ve been working with a non-profit in Chicago named Territory. Territory is a summer employment program that hires youth to build their voice, vision, and agency through urban design within their community. In other words, we hire youth to take back their community and build it up how they see fit. Through this program, youth have the opportunitiy to speak on how their community has impacted their feelings of safety, then work to actively change that. What I love about working with Territory is that we don't just give youth the knowledge on designing the city, but also the experience, tools, and agency to do something about it. These teens do everything from filing a building permit with the city, to speaking with political figures within Chicago to get them on board. Its amazing to see the power these teens have when they are given the guidance and tools to fulfill their vision.
Territory is an amazing non-profit that I would have never known about or had the opportunity to work with- if I hadn’t applied to be a fellow with Future Leaders in Action (FLIA). FLIA is an organization that mentors emerging professionals through a career in a social sector. From instruction on trauma informed care to exercises on producing personal purpose statements, FLIA has walked us through it all. What makes this opportunity especially great is that Kirsten (founder of FLIA), has worked with us one on one to not just make sure we thrive at our summer placements, but to ensure we have the tools to continue to thrive in the fall and beyond.
This opportunity is especially important to me, because as a graduate student student sociology at University of Illinois-Chicago, I'm constantly reading about social inequality, but I yearn for the opportunity to do something about it. Through this opportunity, I get to do just that. I get an inside look at how a non-profit tackles both gentrification and the school to prison pipeline all while lifting up youth. From my experiences working with youth on probation, to mentoring high school students on college entry, I've never experienced anything quite like this.
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