After-school program gives participants the chance to offer grant to nonprofits

Published: Monday, March 13, 2023 - 5:46pm

Unidas is the Women’s Foundation for the State of Arizona’s after-school program. Every semester, its southern Arizona cohort awards a grant to a nonprofit organization addressing an area of community concern.

Alyssa Norris is the cohort’s facilitator.

“The criteria to apply for this grant is that in one way or another, their organization needs to focus on inclusive, comprehensive sex education,” Norris said.

Norris, a student at the University of Arizona, said she was initially involved in the Unidas program as a participant. Like other young people, she said it felt like her passion for activism was not taken as seriously as she feels the Unidas program takes its participants.

“We’re patted on the back,” Norris said, “until we start trying to disrupt the systems that are making these things happen.”

Unidas leadership oversees the process of giving out grants. But Norris said it’s more meaningful because it gives young people the power of choice, and the opportunity to direct their passion for social change.

“We give them the power to award $5,000 to whatever topic, whatever organization in the state that they see fit,” she said.

Seeing participants work to change and better their community is encouraging, Norris said.

“Eventually, they’re gonna be the ones who are running everything,” Norris said. “So it’s a matter of making them confident young adults so they can be the ones leading this process down the line.”

Daniela Maya is the Unidas program manager. She said the skills participants learn make them more active in their communities now, and in the future.

“Whether that is enhancing the leadership skills that we’re providing, or advocacy skills, soft skills,” Maya said. “All of the things that they’re learning in Unidas, they can use and it can add to their economic growth, and their human capital that they [will] have in the future.”

Norris said the funding is unrestricted. And that she hopes it will support efforts to keep young people informed on what she calls a prevalent topic. Applications are open until April 5.

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