By Chanel Ward
The Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) recently launched its inaugural Youth of COLOR Fellowship, welcoming its three new Fellows: Nancy Mora Domínguez, Communications Fellow; Elizabeth Burciaga, Organizing Fellow and Ashly Villa-Ortega, Policy Fellow.
Executive Director, Dusti Gurule explained the idea behind the new fellowship, “Today we are officially launching the Youth of COLOR Program, and this program was an idea I had since I have been back at COLOR, so it’s been two years now and it’s about how we not just engage, but have young people leading the reproductive justice movement.”
“The design of the fellowship integrates all of our work,” said Gurule about the three fellowship positions. “A lot of our work is engaged in the elections, and engaging community; having their voice heard, whether it’s during the election cycle and or the policy. Communications is how we tell our story and really create that space for young people.”.
Colorado State Senator Julie Gonzales, (D-34) and Colorado State Representatives Serena Gonzales-Gutíerrez, (D-4) and Donald Valdez, (D-62), mingled amongst a crowd of old friends and new acquaintances, while stepping out to help welcome the new cohort of fellows at the LowDown Brewery + Kitchen two weeks into the legislative session.
“COLOR is a part of our community and I support our community,” explained Representative Gonzales-Gutíerrez. “I want to be able to show up whenever I can. They’re [COLOR] always there with us, fighting the fight and I know that I can count on them and I hope they know that they can count on me, because we are a community together.”
Colorado native, self-identified Latina and Program Manager of COLOR, América Ramírez started working with the reproductive organization in August and in the five months that she has been with the organization, she has been impacted in unexpected ways. “I had been doing some work with youth in Denver and I also did some work at Boulder County Public Health and that kind of brought me into the reproductive justice space,” Ramírez explained about her involvement with COLOR.
“I found COLOR and it really fit in with how I wanted to incorporate health equity, but also with all the other forms of justice, especially focusing on young people,” said Ramírez. “[This] is a nice way for us to launch our Youth of COLOR Fellowship Program. So, it’s one of our new programs that we started here and it’s a very intentional program where we want to bring in young people to the reproductive justice movement.”
Ramírez also expressed that the program is intended for “peers bringing in other peers to be able to build that camaraderie and say that we’re all in this together and be able to figure out ways to make it applicable It’s an equitable opportunity for young people, valuing their experience more than anything else.”
COLOR offers three different fellowship positions to young people ages 18-25: an Organizing Fellow, a Policy Fellow and a Communications Fellow. Each position has an application process and runs through the legislative session, beginning in November – over two months before the session begins – and up until November 2020; after elections.
Each fellow receives a monthly stipend of $1,800 for 20 hours of work a week.
Each recipient had the opportunity to introduce herself, as they grouped together most of the evening, they were introduced to an impressive room of leaders and now mentors. The sisterhood already forming between the fellows was obvious and inspiring.
Burciaga, Mora Domínguez and Villa-Ortega proudly spoke through tears.
“I am a proud first-generation daughter of immigrants, so I am here today not only for myself, but for them,” explained Burciaga.
“As an Ethnic Studies major, I was nervous about what my opportunities and options would be. People said nobody cares about people of color or about marginalized communities,” said Domínguez, before expressing her gratitude for the fellowship and COLOR.
“I am here for the future, for the youth and times are getting harder, but you know what? We’re going to break through and we’re going to make changes,” stated Villa-Ortega.
“The design of the fellowship integrates all of our work. A lot of our work is engaged in the elections, and engaging community; having their voice heard, whether it’s during the election cycle and or the policy.”
Dusti Gurule, COLOR
COLOR encourages everyone to become involved and accepts applicants of all educational backgrounds, showing the need for everyone’s involvement and skill set. You can find more information about the program and how to become involved at their website at COLORLatina.org. Text Justice or Justicia to 94502 to receive alerts in English y en español.
Chanel Ward is an Independent Reporter for The Weekly Issue/El Semanario.
For More Colorado News: WWW.ELSEMANARIOCOLORADO.COM
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