The Ujamaa Collective is a non-profit organization of women of African descent who are entrepreneurs,artists and farmers who are committed to servant leadership
About Your Organization
United States, PA, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County
Country where this project is creating social impact
United States, PA, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County
Is your organization a
Non‐profit / NGO / Citizen sector organization
Your role in Education
The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with
How long has your organization been operating?
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Select the stage that best applies to your solution
Start-Up (a pilot that has just begun operating)
How long has your solution been in operation?
Operating for less than a year
The Need: What problem are you trying to solve?
Encouraging African American young ladies in high school to embrace sisterhood, unity, feminine empowerment, self esteem, self awareness through hands on farm work, handwork and intensive aesthetic education experiences. The young women in our community are in a overcrowded, quite violent high school - who's population will increase next year.
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
We intend to guide our young women to create a welcoming, compassionate and safe space for the newcomers each year in their high school. We will expose them, at an interactive level,to careers related to empathy such as growing herbs, flowers and food for others, healing arts and the creation of organic body care products. We believe they will carry these skills and values beyond high school. Young ladies participating in our program will transform their way of thinking and being in the world. Gently guiding our young women in processes around creativity and service we will help them cultivate the gift of empathy by being in tune with others emotions, needs and the needs of our planet. We will create opportunities for Milliones students to involve themselves in everyday acts of grace, diplomacy and benevolence. Encouraging empathy in young people helps them realize their is no need to search outside of themselves. They will discover good, humane and true answers lie within.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities
Young women are empowered to think, act and behave in a higher and more caring manner when challenged to create, grow or bring healing experiences to people other than themselves. It requires them to do some souls searching and taking a deeper look at themselves, their motives and those who they'll serve.
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others also working to address the needs you are and what differentiates you from them. What challenges could these players pose to your success or growth?
There are very few competitors using our model in the Pittsburgh Public School system. There is a elementary and middle school model "Caught Being Good" that's an anti-bullying campaign, but little or nothing is being offered to the the high school students at Milliones to cultivate empathic young adults. What makes our model different is we put the job of serving others into the capable hands of young people using tangible processes such as growing flowers to uplift their community, creating a poem for a greeting card destined to an aged person or making foot scrub for a single mother's tired feet. We are giving them a new way of looking at and affecting the world around them to inspire in them the confidence that they can make changes in their own life and in the lives of others.
Now that you have thought out your entry, help us pitch it.
Define your company, program, service, or product in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]
Milliones Collective transforms the mind, body and soul of young women using holistic, enjoyable and hands-on approaches to service.
Identify what is innovative about your solution in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]
We ask young women to look at themselves in a more profound way - to appreciate the human spirit and true essence of others.
This Entry is about (Issues)
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
Since 2010 we've provided work opportunities for eight school aged youth in our fair trade boutique and marketplace. The leadership and Milliones School invited us to do three intense workshops around art journaling and reflection, creating personal body care products and creating craft and agriculture guilds. We presented to 132 sophomore and juniors. The students and teachers have invited us back for summer, fall and winter 2013 sessions. We used gift making and acts of grace (fragrant floral body care products, wearable art creation and intense art journaling complimenting young peers and the women in their lives)as the themes for the workshops to see who would be interested. Nearly two thirds of the girls asked to come when we return after Spring Break.
What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?
Our community has undergone a master plan(www.greaterhilldistrictmasterplan.org/) and green print(www.pittsburghparks.org/greenprint) that are changing the landscape of our community as I write. We want our project to cultivate and empower empathic youth social entrepreneurs that can be change agents in their schools and communities and who can spearhead plans that were written with their adult lives in mind. Year one we want to expose the young women at Milliones U-Prep to non-traditional careers focusing on agriculture, healing and wellness and artistic creation that are nurturing by nature. Year two - we will have a core group to welcome their peers to school 2012/2013 using practical empathetic approaches. Year three - we hope to induct some of the young ladies into our cooperative.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
Poor attendance rates at our community high school concern us. Also the suspension rates are high at Milliones U-prep. Parent participation is quite low as well. We are confident cultivating flowers,herbs and making organic fragrant body care products and artistic creation to promote beauty inside and out will give our young ladies something to look forward to at school beyond the regular curriculum. We know small gifts they'll create for others - especially those in their families will draw interest from home and sincere parent support for our program and more of an interest in their child's educational future. Above we believe empathetic acts of kindness, grace and generosity they learn with us will go home with them too.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Create a thorough lesson plan for the summer and fall experiences connected to our states educational standards.
Develop schedules for delivery of flowers and gifts to senior centers and senior living spaces in our community
Plan two community presentations featuring written pieces by our youth based on their own empathetic growth
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Raised additonal funds to sustain the project
Create a model with current Milliones students to create a smooth welcoming transition of incoming freshmen and new students
Link interested seniors to college programs focusing on wellness, psychology, agricultural sciences and community empowerment
Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world [125 words]
We realized that troubled youth relish in opportunities to be caring and considerate of others needs and feelings. They are on the other side of the eight ball so often that when the opportunity presents itself, the jump on it. During our work with four youth who'd been adjudicated to work with us on the farm we saw transformations in how they treated one another and the seniors who had raised beds on the community garden. The learned to operate as a team to get hard work done. They switched tasks to balance the work load and showed general concern for one another on hot - long days. The big Aha came when they were asked to go to another community garden that was way out of control due to unintentional neglect and restored it to good growing health. They jumped and the chance, did a terrific job and went back to check on it! We thought oh - we are on to something here.
Tell us about your partnerships
We are working with the administrators at Milliones University Prep (Mr. Hardy), the Hill District Education Council (Erik Ewell), and Pittsburgh Youth Green Entrepreneurs (Harry Johnson) and tentatively with Miller African Centered Academy to promote green living and wellness programs to our youth. This will be our third year partnering with the Bedford Hope Center to promote healthy living. Landslide Farm, the Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture and Grow Pittsburgh staff have provided technical support. We also hold a seat on the Food Policy Council.
What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section? [75 words]
The Ujamaa Collective has a social entrepreneurship activist membership totaling 27 members who are required as a part of their membership to participate in work share/volunteer hours to help us reach our outreach goals. Our management circle, comprised of specialists in their fields (body care, jewelry and healing arts, etc.)total seven women committed to working with young people to promote ideas of sisterhood and brotherhood within their community and the world.
Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list