DENVER (CBS4)- For the first time in nearly two decades, a Colorado fellowship program has selected all fellows who are people of color. This month, the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation announced the seven non-profit leaders they selected for its 2022 Class of Livingston Fellows, all identify as BIPOC, Black, Indigenous, People of Color.
The Livingston Fellowship Program provides advanced learning opportunities to leaders working at Colorado non-profits.
Gary Steuer, the president of the organization said the industry has historically been underrepresented. While many non-profits serve Black and brown communities, the leadership in the industry lacks representation.
"Leaders of color don't have the same opportunity to leadership development that other leaders have historically had," said Steuer. "So if we want to address systemic inequity, we have to make sure we're addressing it within the pool of leaders within our community."
One of the seven leaders selected as a fellow is Yessica Holguin. Holguin is the executive director of the Center for Community Wealth Building. Raised in the Swansea neighborhood, she's worked with several non-profits giving back to her community for many years.
"It's about ensuring that leaders of color can actually continue to do the work," Holguin said. "This work is very, very difficult, and I know so many amazing leaders that have completely left the non-profit sector because they're burnt out."
Holguin said receiving this fellowship means more leaders like her will be able to continue serving Colorado communities, because with this investment, many leaders are able to continue their work, tackling issues like poverty and youth violence.
"It's the recognition that the work that we're doing matters," she said. "For me, it's about how do we go from success to sustainability."
Holguin believes this fellowship will give her the tools to help create an environment where everyone can thrive.
"It takes us to change, it takes us to take that step, so that everyone can have an opportunity in the future," Holguin said.
Each fellow in the program is awarded $35,000. They're also expected to work on a three-year action plan. All the money for this fellowship comes from private donors.
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