What was the impetus behind creating your organization?
For many of us, sex education consisted of half-truths whispered in the school cafeteria or movies in health class that suggested abstinence and heterosexuality were our only options. In 2009, I was a student at the University of Southern California (USC) film school, and asked the question “What would happen if young women took sexual health education into their own hands?”
The answer was ImMEDIAte Justice, a summer program that my best friends Sylvia Raskin, Laney Rupp, and I created for young women in South Central that teaches media literacy and sexual health through filmmaking. Participants learn to write, direct, and film their own sex-ed videos with a “for youth by youth” philosophy.
How did CGI U help you in launching it?
CGI U gave imMEDIAte Justice the seed funding to launch our first summer camp for young women. It was a huge vote of confidence that what we were trying to create resonated with others. With our seed funding we bought our first canon 7D and final cut pro 7 editing software. It was a small beginning, but we were ecstatic and the CGI U staff shared our enthusiasm by providing an amazing platform for us to share our cause.
How has the road been for you and your organization since CGI U?
imMEDIAte Justice has received both incredible grassroots support and commercial sponsorship over the years. The program has gained national attention, earning grants from DoSomething.org and the Pepsi Refresh Project. In addition to our Los Angeles chapter, we have launched summer camps on the Quinault Reservation, Kampala, Uganda, and Beijing, China, impacting the lives of over 1,000 young women. The organization has been highlighted on CNN, NBC, Univision, and was nominated by the Utne Reader as one of the 25 Visionaries Changing Your World. We have been privileged to witness the process of young women on a global level reclaiming their bodies and their stories through film.
CGI U aims to help future leaders develop, talk about what leadership means to you and your organization.
Traditional forms of leadership prize those who immediately take control of a project and carry their team toward victory. It’s a model of winners and followers that creates a hierarchy of power. My best friends/co-founders of imMEDIAte Justice, Laney Rupp and Sylvia Raskin, have shown me a different kind of leadership model. While they both have the talent, intelligence, and ideas to be the type of charismatic leaders people follow, Sylvia and Laney work to create organizational structures that allow everyone to lead. Their form of leadership instills a self-motivated call to action in volunteers and youth. They have taught me to use my position of power to synthesize others’ ideas and facilitate collectively envisioning change. While traditionally speaking this may seem like a weakness, it has transformed individuals who felt powerless into communities with a deep and meaningful sense of purpose.
Any words of advice for college-aged people who want to launch a social start-up?
Our generation wants change to happen fast and our impact on the world to be huge, but it's the attention to the often, slow process that builds strong movements. Many motivated young people burn out as social entrepreneurs from the difficult reality of affecting sustainable change. Take the time to build a self-awareness and love that sustains transformation in communities of struggle and celebrates the little victories. Stay present and bares witness to the suffering of others while making room for the possibility of healing.