Bob Gnaizda Youth Leaders is inspired by the legacy of civil rights lawyer Bob Gnaizda, who was General Counsel for the National Diversity Coalition. It's a four-month long mentorship program for teenagers interested in activism and leadership. It culminates in a trip to Sacramento, CA and/or Washington DC, where the students meet with congresspeople, senators, and regulators to discuss their issues.
Find your power as a leader and invest in your advocacy skills for your community
Bob Gnaizda, renowned and accomplished crusader for the underdog, mentored generations of young people with leadership potential. Now we carry on his legacy and ask you to apply to be a Bob Gnaizda Youth Leader.
We are looking for 5 high school seniors and college freshmen who:
- Care about issues affecting their communities
- Like working collaboratively to solve big problems
- Have an interest in politics and lawmaking
How will you learn with us?
- Attend one or two group meetings by zoom per month in October through March
- Do some light reading about current issues and advocacy work
- Work with your group to focus on an important issue and brainstorm ideas to bring to lawmakers
- Travel with our National Diversity Coalition advocacy team to Washington DC in March to meet with lawmakers
How can you apply?
- Online applications for the second batch of BGYL opens September 2022
- Find a trusted adult (teacher, coach, pastor, etc.) to write you a recommendation
This will be the Bob Gnaizda Leaders pilot program year, which means that we’ll be working together with you to chart out a meaningful, fun course
What will you gain from this program?
A free trip to Washington DC to meet powerful leaders
Experience with advocacy and leadership
Meeting other like-minded young people
The ongoing support of a powerful network of experienced advocates and community leaders
The BYGL Curriculum
BGYL students will learn about advocacy work leading up to their Washington DC trip with the National Diversity Coalition. Through the fall and winter students will meet approximately monthly with their BGYL program leaders (currently via zoom) to learn about lifelong advocate Bob Gnaizda, different approaches for advocacy work, current issues where advocates can make a difference, and powerful leaders who they will meet with on their DC trip. Students will do very light reading and writing in between meetings, usually just a single article with a brief response, to gain some background and explore their own interests and skills as a community advocate.
Be surrounded by professionals and mentors who are fully immersed in the industry
Rebecca Kee is a San Francisco native with a passion for education. She is the director of Potrero Kids preschool and in the past has taught in the San Francisco Unified School District, volunteered as a youth mentor, and currently serves on the executive boards of an after school program and PTA. In her free time you can find Rebecca obsessing over politics, scouting out the best local baked goods, and practicing her latest hobby: aerial silks.
Josh Gnaizda lives with his wife, daughter, dogs, goats, and horses in Petaluma, CA. He studied economics at UC Davis and has developed a particular interest in the role financial technologies can play in banking the unbanked and leveling the financial playing field. He also lovingly maintains, and occasionally drives, his giraffe-yellow 1977 Volvo 242.
Matt Gnaizda has spent over 15 years as a journalist, including 3 years training young aspiring reporters. He currently produces a satirical news show that aims to make China issues relevant to an American audience. Matt has traveled extensively, interacting with hundreds of human rights activists and policy makers around the world.
Essay from one of our student leaders
Michaela Okuyama, from the first batch of students in the Bob Gnaizda Youth Leaders Program, shares her story. Read it here.