Strategic Plan 2012

Our History

The Child Leader Project was initiated in Riverside, CA in 2008 by Samantha Wilson for the purpose of providing young people opportunities to explore values-based leadership and international dialogue. During her junior year as an undergraduate student at the University of California – Riverside, Samantha proposed a year-long values-based leadership program for twenty youth at a South Indian higher secondary school outside of Tiruchiripalli, South India. The original goal of the project was to move child and youth leadership programming and public “schooling” away from creating “laborers” and towards cultivating “leaders”– or, “From Labor to Leader: The Child Leader Project.” CLP was initially funded by a generous $10,000 grant from the Donald A. Strauss Foundation during Samantha’s junior year at UC Riverside.

From 2008 to 2009, the CLP program grew in India to include forty youth in Valanadu Kaikatti at Vidiyal Matriculation Higher Secondary School as well as expanded in scope to include children and youth from programs in Kanchipuram and Chennai, Tamil Nadu. By winter of 2009, CLP facilitated leadership development programming with over ninety children and youth in South India, facilitated by over thirteen young adult mentors from the USA and India.

In 2009, Samantha met MDS Shiva, a doctoral student in the Department of Social Work at Pondicherry University. Shiva was an active and long-term child and youth organizer in his village, Chinna Mudaliar Chavadi, a Dalit community outside of Pondicherry, South India. Together, Samantha and Shiva collaborated with an international USA and Indian team of young adult mentors in the development of year-long child and youth leadership programming in three community organizations in and around Pondicherry, combining best principles and practices from both, Child Leader Project and Shiva’s “child collectives” approach.

In the summer 2010, Child Leader Project-India gained momentum, mobilizing over fifteen young adult volunteers from local colleges and universities with the assistance of Mughil Social Welfare Organization. In winter of 2011, Child Leader Project-India registered in India as “The Trust for Youth and Child Leadership” (TYCL). The trust is led entirely by young adult leaders in India and continues to facilitate year-long programs for children and youth at Baby Sarah’s Home, Child Helpage in Long Duration (CHILD) and the New Era Child Collective (CC).

Child Leader Project has facilitated pen pal, exchange and leadership programming in the USA since 2009, partnering with elementary schools, high schools, universities and local organizations. CLP has facilitated pen pal projects between students at Patriot High School and CLP partners in South India, as well as exchange programs through CLP’s “Send US to INDIA” program in 2009 and 2011. CLP has also lead leadership development programming at Quail Valley Elementary School in Menifee Unified School District, providing children the opportunity to share about social issues in their school and neighborhood. Currently, CLP works in partnership with Norte Vista High School in Alvord Unified School District, providing year-long leadership and community development projects to youth leaders in the Arlanza and La Sierra area. This local, young adult-led project has been awarded funds by the Community Foundation Youth Grantmaker’s Fund in both 2010 and 2011.

Child Leader Project has been recognized by Clinton Global Initiative University as an “innovative approach for addressing a global challenge” and has been represented at the CGIU conference annually since 2008. In 2011, a CLP commitment to action was recognized by mtvU in which CLP representatives presented the #1 song on the mtvU’s “Dean’s List” — Ben Harper’s “With My Own Two Hands.” CLP was also presented as a social entrepreneurship pitch at the Unite for Sight Conference at Yale University and been recognized by the Southern California Sister Cities and International Relations Council of Riverside. Child Leader Project has served in consultant capacities with youth organizations in Guanajuato, Mexico as well as other local Riverside organizations.

Our Song

Here I go, bound for freedom; am I true to take the lead?
Not the priest, not the parliament, not the crorepathi… but me?
I will organize for justice, I will raise my voice in song
and we at CLP will lead the world and carry on.

Here I go, I’m not standing on my own.
We remember those around us and we know we’re not alone.
We will organize for justice, we will raise our voice in song
and we at CLP will lead the world and carry on.

Adapted by the 2009 Summer Team from Pat Humpries, “Bound for Freedom”