On Saturday, November 11, the Obama Foundation hosted its second pilot training at Arizona State University’s Student Pavilion in Tempe, bringing together hundreds of young people to kickstart their work in civic life and to become more active in shaping their own communities.
The day began with an indigenous people’s welcome that led all attendees through a visualization exercise to acknowledge the history of the land and native communities, as well as the young leaders who represented various tribes in the space. This welcome set a powerful tone for the day and inspired everyone in the room to gear up for a special experience.
From there, facilitators from the Mikva Challenge, Facing History and Ourselves, and Narrative 4 guided participants through the day’s content. These facilitators provided the tangible skills participants needed to turn values and empathy into action, identify one’s assets, and design solutions based on root causes instead of the symptoms of a problem. Community leaders and artists also took the stage to deliver powerful stories with local flair.
Participants worked in small groups and joined a series of inspirational workshops and team challenges, discussed issues such as food deserts, the disconnection that homeless individuals face and ways to fix it, high prison recidivism rates, and the need to promote civil and constructive discourse. As ideas continued to flow, it was clear that the participants were eager to be cultivating solutions, relationships, and strategies to make a difference.
To ensure the energy generated during the day led to meaningful follow up and sustained action, the Foundation partnered with a diverse array of organizations in Tempe — from universities and community colleges, to churches and places of worship, to community organizing and arts based organizations — to hold an Engagement Fair that showcased different ways participants could be more active in their community. The Engagement Fair was a highlight of the day -- partner organizations left with a new cohort of volunteers, and participants left invigorated with new opportunities to use the tools they had learned.
The Obama Foundation’s mission is to inspire and empower a new generation of leaders to change their community and their world, and we hope you’ll follow along as we continue these Training Days and develop future programming.