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The Grassroots Voices application is now closed.

The best solutions to community problems come from within. When communities mobilize themselves to address challenges, they get results – with long-term solutions that are right for their unique context. 

Grassroots Voices is a 7-week program that supports young women leaders who are implementing community-focused projects. We give them the training, resources, and mentorship to level up and make their vision a reality. 

Young women everywhere are engaged in exactly this kind of community-centered organizing. They identify problems and are working to solve them. Grassroots Voices is designed to amplify their work and boost their skills so they can transform their communities – and then the world. 

Program Highlights 

  • Leadership training and development  
  • Mentorship from an individually matched mentor 
  • Travel to Washington, D.C., with cohort to meet with women leaders 
  • Opportunity to apply for a project grant  

 

Participants in Grassroots Voices are young women, ages 18-25 and based in the U.S., who are already engaged in grassroots justice work on some of the biggest obstacles that American society faces today, like mass incarceration, social inequity and pay gaps, reproductive justice, and more. 

Over seven weeks, participants will develop their leadership capacity. Grassroots Voices participants are individually matched with a mentor who can give them tailored advice for their unique challenges. They will also have the opportunity to apply for a grant to fund a project in their home community. 

Participants will be part of an intimate program, joining a tight-knit cohort of other young women leaders who are as passionate as they are about reimagining what life in their communities could be. Together, they’ll have the chance to travel to Washington, D.C., for an in-person event at the Vital Voices Global Headquarters for Women’s Leadership. They’ll meet women leaders from the Vital Voices Global Network and attend our inspiring Global Leadership Awards, coming away with the motivation and support to continue their work. 

Investing in young leaders is core to the mission of Vital Voices. Grassroots Voices empowers the young women leaders who will drive progress for the next generation and beyond, preparing them to take on the mantle of leadership in a world we can’t yet even imagine. 

This program is made possible by Sarah Johnson and Sarva Rajendra.

Meet the 2023 Fellows

Sana Askari

2023 Fellow, Founder, Esheel Stitching Circle

Sana Askari is the Founder of Esheel Stitching Circle (ESC), a nonprofit initiative that empowers Hazara Afghan women living in Afghanistan and refugee settlements in Pakistan by providing them gainful employment and income as they utilize their handiwork skills in making hand embroideries. Askari’s support extends beyond employment opportunities. She actively engages with Afghan women, offering not just financial aid, but also vital emotional support. She recently initiated fundraising for a 20-year-old ESC employee who, after losing one kidney, could not afford her medical expenses.

Economic Empowerment
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Jehan Idsassi

2023 Fellow, Executive Director, STEM Up

STEM Up, is an organization dedicated to promoting gender diversity and representation in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Founded by Jehan Idsassi, STEM Up focuses on providing educational resources and support to young girls in underserved communities, with a global perspective. STEM Up’s mission is to advocate for equitable female representation in STEM. Under her leadership, STEM Up hosted a virtual summer program in the summer of 2023 which allowed registered participants to learn more about the importance of advocating for female representation in STEM, particularly in underrepresented and minority groups.

Additionally, as a minority woman in STEM, Jehan is very passionate about conducting research within the neuroscience field. During her senior year of high school, Jehan interned at the University of Maryland, College Park in the Araneda Laboratory, where she was mentored by PhD candidate Ms. Lucy Irvine, to conduct a research practicum project on assessing the efficacy of Simple Behavioral Analysis (SimBA) in analyzing the influence of sex and age on behavioral repertoire in wild-type c57 mice.

Jehan has earned the recognition of becoming a National STEM Challenge Champion representing the state of Maryland, being inducted as a Lifetime Fellow on behalf of the National Association of Academies of Science American Junior Academy of Sciences, receiving the 24: Maryland’s Emerging Scholars Award, the 2023 Buford Harvest Outstanding Leader Award, and more.

In the future, Jehan hopes to pursue a Doctorate of Medicine (MD) and aspires to become a neurosurgeon whilst continuing to advocate for the importance of female representation in STEM.

Education
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United States

Olivia Storz

2023 Fellow, Co-Founder, Survivor Fund

Olivia Storz is a researcher, policy analyst, and program strategist focused on expanding meaningful, joyful choices. Her research and advocacy examine how gendered inequality and violence shape social, political, and economic opportunity. Storz is the Co-Founder of the Survivor Fund, an innovative organization dedicated to providing financial care to student survivors of gender-based violence and harassment. This work centers on tangibly supporting survivor joy and resilience while raising awareness about the unjust and significant costs of gendered violence.

Storz is also a program specialist at Futures Without Violence, working at intersections of socio-economic policy, inequalities, prevention education, and gendered violence. Throughout her career, Storz has acquired multidisciplinary experience in a wide variety of contexts, including reproductive health in rural Peru, social policy implementation in Argentina, sexual violence prevention in the UK, and equal pay advocacy in the US Congress. Storz received her B.A. from the University of Denver, alongside the University Pioneer Award. She also received her M.Sc. with Distinction from the London School of Economics. Storz is an alumnus of several programs, such as the New Leaders Council, the Planned Parenthood Developing Leaders Program, and the Peace Corps. She loves pickled vegetables and the acknowledgments section of books.

Gender-Based Violence
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Angelina Quint

2023 Fellow, Founder, Empowering Inclusion

Angelina Quint is an education and human rights advocate who is passionate about making a positive impact on the world. Born in California, Quint has moved over fourteen times in her life and has had the incredible opportunity to meet an array of different people—each with their own stories, backgrounds, and experiences. As a result, she has come to embrace the true diversity of others and strives to continuously bring all people to the table. Angelina’s lifelong goal is to enact positive global change—whether it be by advocating for the rights of individuals with disabilities, improving the living conditions of unhoused populations, or bridging educational disparities. Beyond her passion for equity and social justice, Quint enjoys reading, visiting coffee shops, drinking boba, and exploring new places.

Education
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United States

Diadji Diawara

2023 Fellow, Founder, Kaara

Diadji Diawara is actively working on expanding a program named Kàara in Mali. Kàara is a project that was first started to help low-income children access tutoring in Mali. Classes were held twice a week and offered students various subjects such as math, French, physics, chemistry, and English. This initiative was started during Diawara’s high school days as she wanted to fight the educational inequalities present in the Malian educational system. Surrounded by struggling families growing up, Diawara believed that every child, no matter their social background, deserved adequate educational support. In a country where the public school system does not break the cycle of poverty, Kàara is engaged in changing the realities of the nation. Diawara hopes to create a nationwide support system for every child in need of a place where their education is at the center and where they will get the opportunity to enjoy their youth by having recreational activities.

Diawara is a current Mechanical Engineering student and hopes to study renewable energies in the future, with the hope to alleviate the energetic crisis in Mali. Diawara was a member of the children’s rights parliament where she fought for years against the abuses perpetrated towards children in Mali. Passionate about STEM and leadership, Diawara became the first female captain of the Malian robotics team where she led the team to many victories and promoted women’s involvement in STEM in the country. For Diawara, giving back to her community is the purpose of her life.

 

Education
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United States

Harmony Hoogs

2023 Fellow, Director of Engagement, Here N Queer

Harmony Hoogs is currently on the board of directors for Here N Queer, a virtual nonprofit dedicated to spreading awareness and resources surrounding the mental health of queer youth. She serves as the Director of Engagement and is in charge of connecting Here N Queer to other organizations that further their mission. The board of directors for Here N Queer is completely comprised of high school and college students from all over the country hoping to make a difference in the LGBTQ+ community.

Outside of Here N Queer, Hoogs has participated in programs with other nonprofits such as Active Minds, PERIOD. Movement, and Running Start. She has also interned and worked at the Resource Center in college, the City of Long Beach, and Rising Communities. They currently attend Wesleyan University and plan to double major in Government and Philosophy with a minor in Human Rights.

Gender Equality & Women's Rights
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United States

Alexia Leclercq

2023 Fellow, Co-Founder, Start: Empowerment

Alexia Leclercq is a grassroots organizer, scholar, and artist. She has led dozens of environmental justice campaigns from pushing for loss & damage and an equitable fossil fuel phase-out at an international level to passing national climate and chemical reform legislation and fighting for clean water, addressing aggregate mining pollution, relocating toxic tank farms, and organizing mutual aid. Leclercq is the co-founder of the Colorado River Conservancy under PODER and a climate education non-profit named Start: Empowerment. Her curriculum has reached over 120,000 students across the United States and her work has been featured on platforms such as Blomberg, Forbes, Washington Post, Austin Statesman, and more. She has also won the prestigious Brower Youth Award, the Harvard AOCC Award for Commitment to Educational Justice, and the 2022 WWF Conservation Award. She served as the 2022 UN Youth Assembly Ambassador and has also been invited to speak at various events such as COP27, Global Peace Education Conference, Bioneers Conference, and CUNY Climate Education Conference. Leclercq graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in political science and education from New York University and Harvard University.

Climate Action
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Aliyah Saleem

2023 Fellow, Founder, Hope for Health & Hygiene

Aliyah Saleem is the Founder of Hope for Health & Hygiene. She’s inspired to build a future where no one has to choose between food and basic hygiene necessities. H4HH directly tackles the intersecting issues of poverty and health. By providing essential hygiene products and promoting hygiene education, the organization contributes to improving the quality of life for individuals facing hygiene poverty. Additionally, by advocating for systemic change and challenging the perception of hygiene products as “luxury items,” H4HH aims to create a more equitable society where everyone has access to the resources necessary for good health and well-being. Through this experience, she has come to understand the importance of public service and its power to create positive change.

Saleem is an undergraduate student at Rutgers University Newark, majoring in Public and Nonprofit Administration and minoring in Health and Society. She is a 2023 Rutgers University – Newark SPAA Service Awardee, 2022 Obama-Chesky Scholarship for Public Service Recipient, Johnson & Johnson Pathway to Success participant, Former New Jersey Orator (Plainfield Chapter), and Johnson & Johnson Bridge to Employment Alumna. She resides in Plainfield, New Jersey, and has a history of volunteering for several organizations. Ms. Saleem has dedicated well over 300 hours of community service. She is inspired to lead, educate, and empower others, take on new challenges, and make a lasting impact in communities worldwide.

Grassroots & Social Reform
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Nicole Li

2023 Fellow, Lead Organizer, Collierville Community Justice

Nicole Li is a lead organizer of Collierville Community Justice (CCJ), a grassroots coalition working to challenge systems of institutional racism in Collierville, Tennessee. Since its inception in 2020, CCJ has spearheaded several campaigns to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in a predominantly white and conservative town. Such efforts include advocating for the removal of Confederate monuments from public spaces, uplifting Black history through inclusive storytelling, and distributing mutual aid for marginalized community members. As CCJ’s youngest steering committee member, Li is particularly passionate about civic education and youth leadership, as exemplified by her role as Founder and Director of CCJ’s Youth Organizing Fellowship program, which invests in the change-making potential of Collierville high school students through civic training and popular education.

As a progressive organizer based in Tennessee, Li strongly believes that contrary to popular belief, the South is not a lost cause. Since high school, she has demonstrated her commitment to building a more equitable South through her experience conducting criminal justice research for the ACLU of Tennessee, volunteering for campaigns to elect pro-choice Tennessee legislators, and interning for Memphis Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN-9). Nicole recently completed a Bachelor of Arts in Ethics, Politics, & Economics from Yale University. For her service to her home and campus communities, she has been recognized as a Newman Civic Fellow, Youth to the Front Fund Frontliner, Invisalign ChangeMaker, Mississippi Delta Scholar, and Davis Projects for Peace Awardee.

Access to Justice
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United States

Nancy Bosnoian

2023 Fellow, Founder, End No Sleep

Nancy Bosnoian is the founder of “End No Sleep,” a nonprofit committed to empowering high school students, particularly those in vulnerable communities, to prioritize mental well-being through the cultivation of healthy sleep habits. Developing a holistic curriculum that delves into the science of sleep and its profound effects on mental, emotional, and social health; Through evidence-based guidance and interactive mindfulness exercises, their curriculum equips students with the tools they need to establish improved sleep patterns. Bosnoian firmly believes that education and preventive care are pivotal in combating avoidable disorders and diseases from an early age.

Bosnoian is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Human Rights at Columbia University. She has also become a Z Zurich Foundation Scholar, Clinton Global Initiative University Fellow, and Millennium Campus Director Fellow under the UN Academic Impact. Her journey embodies a passion for health and education that inspires positive change.

Education
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United States
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