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GLIDE’s Center for Social Justice Launches First Cohort of Social Justice Academy

social justice academy

CSJ Community Engagement Manager Ian James (L) alongside Social Justice Academy participants, including Claudia Garcia (in the rear wearing glasses behind blue hat), including visiting local leader Oakland Chief of Violence Prevention Holly Joshi to Claudia’s right)

GLIDE’s Center for Social Justice (CSJ) welcomed the first cohort of our Social Justice Academy (SJA) on April 3rd. The cohort, which consists of ten women who have experienced homelessness, incarceration, and other systemic inequities, got to know each other through ice breakers and community building activities, before joining GLIDE staff in Freedom Hall for a celebratory lunch. 

Over the course of a 17-week project-based fellowship, the cohort will learn and implement the tools of community-based research, community organizing, and advocacy to positively impact public and government understandings of an issue of their choice. 

Through the first three meetings, the cohort have continued to build community while learning about GLIDE and gaining tools to help them succeed as community leaders. CSJ’s policy team joined them to talk about our four issue areas of focus.  

Glide Memorial Church welcomed them into the Sanctuary and shared GLIDE’s history. And former CSJ Senior Director, Dr. Holly Joshi, came back to GLIDE to give her signature training on systems change thinking. Each week the cohort’s curiosity, wisdom, and openness to share has made timekeeper the hardest role to fill. 

As a mother and woman of color, SJA fellow Raya Rhodes came to Glide’s CSJ after reflecting upon her experience engaged with her peers about systems change and what she could be doing.

As one of the first ever members in the Social Justice Academy let me first say what an honor it is to be chosen. I am amongst a diverse group of peers who are all passionate and have lived experience in the areas they are passionate about. This opportunity not only allows me to be given a platform to use my voice and put purpose behind my struggles,” summarized Raya.  

“It also gives me the chance to listen and to gain understanding of issues I didn’t know existed. This opportunity is the first of its kind, and as a participant I am making history. No surprise here that yet again GLIDE is pioneering historical changes that the community of San Francisco desperately needs. And I am grateful to be a part of that change,” she added. 

“I think the academy is very good, it makes me very happy,” according to SJA participant Claudia Garcia. “I am learning a lot. I feel very comfortable with everyone.”

justice academy city hall

Project Coordinator Faith Sanchez (L) holds CSJ banner with
SJA fellow Margaret Wilson

For Reya, getting the chance to meet with elected leaders at San Francisco City Hall, work with community partners, and practice her nascent public speaking skills, is the chance at making history. “GLIDE is pioneering historical changes that the community of San Francisco desperately needs. And I am grateful to be a part of that change.”