Spiritual Activist Leadership Training (SALT)

Spiritual Activist Leadership Training (SALT)

Crowdfunding Completed: August 23, 2014

Amount Funded: $5092

Project Owner: UU Mass Action

Short Description of Project

The Spiritual Activist Leadership Training program empowers UU young adults to engage in cultivating peace and justice through faith-based relationship building, action, and reflection.

How was this project connected to UU?

The SALT program implemented by the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of California (UULMCA) trained, empowered, and helped to release the potential of 14 young adult Unitarian Universalist justice leaders through the development of concrete justice and organizing skills, faith development, spiritual deepening and community building. SALT embodies an exceptionally robust, holistic approach to social justice work that combines social witness and raising awareness with direct engagement and advocacy. Our Unitarian Universalist faith calls us to engage in justice work that is motivated by a deep faith in the interdependent web of life, and is inspired by a commitment to the democratic process which recognizes the cultural, spiritual, and economic contexts in which public policy is formed. Although service and charity work are very important because it directly improves the material and spiritual realities for those who are disadvantaged, it is no less important to address the systemic inequalities and oppression which perpetuate injustice everywhere. Our SALT program integrates the wisdom of both approaches.
As an organization, UU Mass Action believes that our faith calls us to change the world! Grounded in democracy, powered by hope, we mobilize Unitarian Universalists to overcome injustice. Our SALT program is sowing the seeds of a vibrant future for our faith by bringing together young adults to share visions for how to cultivate a better world, and to wrestle with questions of identity and vocation from a place of solid spiritual grounding. Participants will gain the leadership skills necessary for building the multigenerational community that we aspire to and proclaim in our congregations. SALT empowers young Unitarian Universalists to claim their own power and authority within churches and faith-based settings, while creating direct opportunities and supportive networks to help them to do so. Spiritual development and faith formation are deeply integrated into all aspects of the curriculum. Individual and group spiritual practices and worship are incorporated into each intensive learning retreat as well as weekly check-ins. It is our goal to keep young Unitarian Universalists connected to our faith while becoming more explicitly welcoming and supportive of young adult involvement in our denomination. Our vision is to create an easily replicable model that could lead to a continent-wide spread of SALT programs, potentially training thousands of young adult Unitarian Universalists.

Full Description of Project

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The Spiritual Activist Leadership Training (SALT) program empowers young adults to cultivate peace and justice through faith-based relationship building, action, and reflection, grounded in Unitarian Universalist values.

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Modeled after a successful program pioneered by the Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry of California from 2011-2012, we are excited to offer local young adults an opportunity to focus on social justice issues in Massachusetts!

Participants will develop social change projects within their own communities while receiving ongoing training and mentorship from lay and ordained UU justice leaders, joining a strong peer support network, and by attending intensive weekend learning retreats. As members of a small and deeply committed cohort, they will build spiritual leadership skills, develop core competencies for accountable social change practices, manifest their own calling for social justice, and practice building the multigenerational community that we aspire to and proclaim in our congregations.

"The biggest thing I got out of SALT was a sense of connection with other young adult justice workers. The ties and networks I was able to create through the program have been life changing, both on a personal level and in my justice work." - Logan Stump-Vernon, SALT 2011-2012

This six month program can be completed while working or in school, and we plan to build a strong alumni base from which to provide continued encouragement, mentoring, and practical support with their projects. Our best practice model has been shown to provide an integrated, accessible, and transformative experience for young adults.

salt8 public domain WHO WE ARE:
Our advisory team includes representation from the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, Unitarian Universalist College Of Social Justice, Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry, California SALT program alumni, Clara Barton and Mass Bay Districts, and the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.

All of these amazing groups have signed on because we are invested in building a program that can be realistically and easily replicated all across the continent by other UU groups. As one of the most robust UU state advocacy networks, UU Mass Action is well-positioned to launch the pilot program!

The budget for this program is $32,100. We currently hold $15,500 between cash in hand and committed funds – and another $6,600 will be covered by tuition and funds raised by program participants (who will learn some fundraising skills as part of the program). This means we need to come up with $10,000 more in order to make this pilot year a success. That's where YOU come in!

We need to raise $5,000 to receive a matching grant from the UU FUUMAN picunding Program.
In other words, if we raise the first $5,000 through Faithify, they have committed to generously pitch in the other $5,000. This critical support would allow us reach our goal and create a viable program - and is also a huge vote of confidence in our shared ministry. Raising this money means we will launch in January 2015.

All contributions will cover necessary expenses for our pilot year so that we can devote staff time and resources to running the program, engaging deeply with our participants and community partners, and working towards securing future funding that ensures program continuity. Our goal is to minimize the burden on the program participants - who, as young adults, will often not be able to cover the whole cost of the program themselves.

All funds raised through Faithify will be directly used for program costs such as:

Subsidizing the cost of room and board for our participants (and ground transportation for core staff) at four three-day intensive weekend trainings. This is where our participants will really dig deep, reflecting together on the challenges and revelations of developing new capacities to be a powerful force for change. This also removes many of the financial barriers for young adults who want to apply.
Fair compensation for community activists and workshop presenters so they are able to spend time with SALT participants. We'll bring in some top-notch trainers to guide them in developing specialized skills, from fundraising to nonviolent communication.
A talented course leader to guide participants throughout the weekend intensives and regular check-ins over the course of six months. We've enlisted our SALT curriculum designer Tom Bozeman, who also designed and co-taught Graceful Leadership, a remarkably successful year-long course at the Starr King School For The Ministry.
A small stipend for our wonderful mentors, who will spend time and energy in guiding our participants to individually and collectively put their faith in action. Personal relationships with mentors are really critical in learning to deal with the challenges and rewards of committing oneself deeply to social change.
Administrative support to cover the labor involved in nitty-gritty elements of payroll, website administration, writing grant applications and reports, and otherwise securing funding to help us be financially stable and sustainable in the future.
Program staff to coordinate logistics and communication, and build and sustain the mutually beneficial community partnerships that provide such a strong foundation for SALT.
Rigorous evaluation of the first year of the program and time revising our curriculum in collaboration with the UU College of Social Justice. This will lay the groundwork for creating a replicable model which can easily facilitate the spread of SALT to other areas, training many other UU young adult Spiritual Activist Leaders.
NEW! A cohort chaplain to help participants navigate personal challenges in a way that leads to spiritual growth, demonstrating the link between spirituality and social justice by integrating pastoral care with prophetic voice.
We can learn organizing and activism from scores of organizations. However, only rare programs equip us to tap into the power of our faith, to deepen self-awareness and to cultivate spiritual practices that support the work of transformation. This is one such gem.
– Meck Groot, UUA New England Region

Your help in getting us to the $5,000 mark on Faithify will put us over the line to be able to cover all those costs and provide a remarkable learning experience for participants.

But we're not going to stop at $5,000! Every additional SALt t-shirts 3dollar over $5,000 that we raise on Faithify will go towards these reach goalsuu mass action logo

Financial accessibility of the program. The full tuition for the program is $1,650 per participant. We have built into the budget some partial subsidies for those with financial need, but we would love to be able to offer more. Any funds that we raise beyond the $5,000 goal will increase our ability to make it affordable to any participant, regardless of need. For every additional $1,150 that we raise over $5,000, we'll be able to offer a drastically-reduced tuition cost of $500 to one participant
Any further funds will go towards keeping the program going in years to come. We are laying the groundwork for SALT to be offered regularly and widely, training thousands of UU young adults across the continent. Any funds raised beyond the scholarships will go toward growing next year's program to be even stronger than this year's – building a program that can be replicated far and wide.

SALT’s Core Program Objectives are to:

Keep young Unitarian Universalist connected to our faith
Integrate multiple social change methods into a holistic view of social change
Meet the developmental needs of young adults and address issues relevant to them
Deepen participants' faith formation and development
Create a model that can be replicated across the continent
1. Our SALT program works toward a faith that retains its young by addressing three areas:

A core part of the program will be focused on developing Unitarian Universalist religious identity and commitment.
The program will give the participants the awareness and skills to be better able to get their spiritual needs met in adult Unitarian Universalist church contexts.
Participants will gain the leadership skills necessary for building the multigenerational community that is all too often lacking in our congregations.
Addressing each of those areas goes beyond simply engaging the actual participants in our SALT program, though. The more young Unitarian Universalists who not only stay engaged but find that engagement deeply fulfilling, the easier it will be to sustain a critical mass of young adult involvement.

SALT IDP 20122. SALT is also a dynamic example of partnership building that bridges different approaches to social justice work within our movement. We are building into the program an exceptionally robust, holistic approach to social justice work. We will integrate the importance of witness and awareness-building, direct service/charity activities, and legislative advocacy. Each of these are great in and of themselves, but by themselves are inadequate:

Building awareness and witnessing are, of course, important for individuals to better orient themselves and take effective action, but it's also important that some active engagement with the world be married to that awareness-building.Service and/or charity activities are vital for directly impacting the existing material and spiritual realities of the disadvantaged, but it's also important that such activities address the systemic relities that caused those inequalities in the first place.

And, finally, while legislative advocacy is an important strategy in the pursuit of more equitable policy going forward, it's also important that such activities take into account the long-term cultural, spiritual, and economic context in which such policy is created.Such partial responses to societal injustice are understandable, given both the complexity of injustice itself and the great challenge of creating significant societal change – as well as individual preferences for one or another. But our SALT progra expands the frame to include the benefits of each approach. Our alumni will be able to strategize around individuals' preferences and weave them together into a more complex, holistic approach to social justice work.
3. We are targeting our curriculum at the developmental needs of young adults, who face a lot of difficult questions around how to eSALT 2013 before afterarn a living – and how it could be connected to one's faith. Such questions are particularly relevant to young adults – and, so, it is incredibly important (for both the future of Unitarian Universalism and the the lives of individual young adults) to
provide adequate support in navigating that developmental stage. Because of the extended, in-depth design of the program, the participants will get what is so important for all of us – but particularly young adults: the experience of digging into these questions in a supportive environment over an extended period of time, while engaged in real-world change efforts that take into account all the dimensions of social change discussed above.

4. A core focus of our SALT program is on deep faith formation. Our SALT program carefully integrates spiritual development and faith formation into every piece of the curriculum. Individual and group spiritual practices and worship will be included in all of the intensives, videochats, and weekly dyad check-ins. Over the year, every reflection process will dig into issues of spiritual development are arising from their growing awareness of themselves and their contexts.

5. Finally, as the second SALT program in the country, we are specifically eyeing how this program might spread further . We're looking forward to a continent-wide spread of the program that is able to directly train thousands of young adult Unitarian Universalists and indirectly have a profound impact on our faith as a whole.

For all of these reasons, we are excited to offer a SALT program in Massachusetts in the near future. However, such a program will need significant financial support from fellow UUs - that's where you come in!