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February 13, 2023

YouthBuild Alumni Present Capstone Projects Upon Completion of Global Equity Fellowship

Evelyn Castañeda Jóvenes Constructores Ecuador – FUNDER) presents her Capstone Project.

Evelyn Castañeda (Jóvenes Constructores Ecuador – FUNDER) presents her Capstone Project

In December, YouthBuild alumni culminated their ten-month Global Equity Fellowship with a capstone presentation.

To be selected for this competitive fellowship, applicants shared their leadership initiatives, provided a letter of recommendation, and wrote about the ways in which global and domestic structural injustices have impacted their communities. The selected fellows were: Arthur Felizardo (Jovens Construtores Brasil – CEDAPS); Hugo Sabino dos Santos (Jovens Construtores Brasil – CEDAPS); Sikina Lee (YouthBuild St. Louis); Veronica Cruz of (Jóvenes Constructores El Salvador – CRS); Elizabeth Price Madrigal (Youth Pathways Costa Rica – Fundación Paniamor); Ariela Mora (Youth Pathways Costa Rica – Fundación Paniamor); Evelyn Castañeda (Jóvenes Constructores Ecuador – FUNDER); and Neo Ntsala (YouthBuild South Africa).

Throughout the fellowship, these eight young people stepped into their unlimited positive leadership potential and worked to bridge divides in their communities across a global workforce. They engaged in professional development, discussion groups, workshops, a dynamic speaker series, mentorship, and national leadership opportunities, while earning a $2,000 stipend, generously supported by American Express and the Skoll Foundation.

Their final capstone project addressed a challenge in their hometown and built upon pre-existing community assets. Evelyn Castañeda, for example, focused her project on incarcerated women in Ibarra, Ecuador. She noted that many jails in her community have capacity for 80 women, with about 155 women living there. They are not rehabilitation centers, she said, but centers that deprive people of their freedom, or “punishment centers.”

“I will allow women to have classes with loving parenting methods so that they can relate to their children and improve their moods by managing frustration,” Evelyn explained. “In the future, I would love for this plan to be able to give some technical skill-building, like making clothing.” She prefaced her presentation with, “I am the service and love that YouthBuild planted in my heart.”

Among the attendees was YouthBuild USA President and CEO John Valverde.

“I think it’s wonderful that each of you don’t just see the negative about your communities which is what everyone from the outside seems to focus on,” Valverde commented after viewing the presentations. “You also look for the assets, the good in your community that you could contribute to and build on, so you’re not always building from nothing but also seeing the potential and power of what already exists in your community.”

Congratulations to the 2022 Global Equity Fellows for completing such powerful, transformative work, and thank you to our partners at American Express and the Skoll Foundation for funding this impactful experience.

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