M-RCBG Associate Working Paper No. 165

GenUnity: Building the next generation of community leaders - GenUnity Social Change Plan

Jerren Chang
Kyi Thant


Executive Summary

Record numbers of young people in the United States want to drive change in their communities. However, barriers to getting involved are high and disproportionately disadvantage people of color and other marginalized groups. As a result, our civic spaces and decision-making processes lack diverse participation, thereby exacerbating inequity. But this does not have to be the case. If we can equitably support people to build their capacity to work together and make change, we can unlock a virtuous cycle of engagement, trust, and more equitable policies.

GenUnity’s mission is to build a diverse and equitable civic leadership pipeline. Our issue-focused, community-centered civic leadership programs catalyze cohorts of diverse members to develop the knowledge, skills, and relationships to make change. Moreover, our programs can scale by tapping into market opportunities to partner with local community organizations and employers. Our approach draws on lessons from and complements existing collaborators and has been tested through market research and a pilot program. This approach is supported by a business model that sets GenUnity up to be financially independent from philanthropic capital over time.

To execute on this plan, we will first focus on refining our model in Boston—expanding to new programs with multiple cohorts each year. Then, we will expand to new cities through a decentralized, community-led approach with the aspiration of achieving national scale by 2031. Throughout, we will measure and evaluate our impact on members, community partners, and employers to improve our programs and deliver on our mission. We will recruit new team members, facilitators, and advisors to complement the experience of the current team and proactively mitigate key risks.

We have an urgent opportunity to catalyze a generation of civic leaders to advance justice and promote happier, healthier communities. What follows is our plan on how to seize this chance.

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