August 11, 2015
Momentum Alliance (MA), a nonprofit in Portland, OR, exists to inspire disadvantaged youth to realize their individual and collective power and works to mentor future social justice leaders. From undocumented immigrants to youth transitioning from foster care, MA works to develop leaders who have experienced various levels of abuse and know first-hand the trauma that can come with growing up in adverse circumstances.
Nearly half of the youth associated with Momentum Alliance report struggling with depression and anxiety, which are common results in histories of trauma. Building them into leaders requires specific and individualized 1:1 mentorship. Momentum Alliance Co-Executive Director Diego Hernandez says MA’s highly specialized and holistic approach is producing “leaders who now use their own struggles and their stories of recovery and resilience to pull themselves back to inspire and assist youth and adults to do the same.”
Diego introduced us to Karla, a 19-year-old “graduate” of Momentum Alliance’s Leveraging Momentum leadership program. Karla explained her experience:
“Momentum Alliance provided the opportunity for me to come out as undocumented, get into college and use my story and experience to become a coach, advocate and ally. I helped launch our Leveraging Momentum network with an Emerging Latino Leaders Summit. I can truly say that I am now part of a local, regional and national community of youth passionate about becoming advocates for social change. Without MA, I never could have imagined these possibilities.”
With the help of Voqal Fund, Momentum Alliance is growing network of leaders under 30 working to diversify decision making, alter relations of power, and make systems more equitable and inclusive.