C&S Civic Spring Fellows: Gaining Hands-On Civic Knowledge While Improving Communities

2022 Civic Spring Fellows Named

July 21, 2022

2022 Civic Spring: Arizona Fellows Checkmate Dementia.

Citizens & Scholars is proud to announce the 2022 Civic Spring Fellows—young people or members of youth-centered organizations who are working on projects that address a local community need. Fellows work in communities across the country while building skills to continue engaging and driving meaningful change for the long term.

Citizens & Scholars held a nationwide search for the youth-led community projects addressing local needs related to environmental justice, community health and wellness, the 2022 elections, or the impact of COVID-19. From a competitive application pool, 14 breakthrough projects were selected.  

For Civic Spring: National, six projects are being funded for summer 2022. Spanning urban, rural, and suburban geographies, these youth-led initiatives are working towards such goals as increasing student COVID-19 vaccination rates, creating mental health resources for those affected by gun violence, driving local environmental action and involvement, and conducting youth-led participatory action research to implement community health solutions. (See the full listing of Fellows and projects below.) 

“I am eager to be a part of the movement that is bound to change my community. It is in our hands to make the changes that are needed today. I am a young leader hoping to see my future, so let’s make a change!” -Ashley Yamileth Chavez, 2022 CSF: National Fellow (Building a Movement of MD Students) 

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In Maricopa County, the Civic Spring: Arizona Fellows are young people ages 15 to 24 working individually or in small groups to solve local issues. The eight projects include such projects as providing nonpartisan candidate information and other voter resources ahead of the 2022 midterms, creating a system of clothing re- and upcycling for those in need, and rebuilding community among populations that suffered loss due to COVID-19. 

“I’m looking forward to engaging youth in Arizona to help empower them to use their voices to achieve climate justice at the ballot box this November.” -Brian Mecinas, 2022 CSF: Arizona Fellow (Future Arizona – A Youth Powered Coalition) 

Selected Fellows are awarded funding—up to $25,000 for National Fellows and up to $1,800 per individual for Arizona Fellows—to complete their summer project.

In addition to funding, Fellows also gain access to a national youth-adult partnership program and co-learning opportunities to strengthen their project and build their civic skills. Part of the partnership program includes working with a network of community and nonprofit organizations, government agencies, schools, religious institutions, and businesses, like PayPal and Levi Strauss & Co. As program sponsors, PayPal is funding and providing support to the Arizona Fellows and Levi Strauss is funding and providing support to the National Fellows. 

Weekly meetings will be a core feature of the program. Each Fellow will take part in the group, co-learning sessions throughout the summer. Citizens & Scholars has developed a civic learning curriculum based on its learning from the 2020 Civic Spring Project pilot program.  

“Young people are eager to engage civically in their communities,” says Citizens & Scholars president Raj Vinnakota. “By focusing on the civic development of young people through programs like the Civic Spring Fellowship, we can secure a future without today’s hyper-partisan deadlock in politics. Fellows get resources and support to impact their local communities. That work can have a ripple effect, restoring a spirit of cooperation and belonging we haven’t seen in generations.” 

Related: How to Get Funding

The Civic Spring Fellowship was originally developed in 2020 by 40 subject-matter experts with insight and recommendations from young people. An independent evaluation of the 2020 Civic Spring Fellowship was conducted by CIRCLE and confirmed the individual and community impact of the program. Key findings included that the fellowship helped youth: 

  • Find or strengthen their own voice, including their social-emotional learning capacities, abilities to navigate both civic institutions and their mental health, and strategies for working with stakeholders across lines of difference. 
  • Make their city or town a better place, including advocating for policy change to city leaders, securing seats for youth on local government committees, holding voter registration events, and engaging local news media. 
  • Gain knowledge and skills that would typically be part of a civics class 

2022 Civic Spring Fellows 

Civic Spring: National Fellows 

  • Community Rising 2022 – Philadelphia, PA: Students and youth leaders from low-income communities of color will work to connect communities with mental health resources combatting the effects of gun violence and voting resources to make their voices heard in upcoming elections. 
  • Future Generations University: Appalachian Program – state-wide, West Virginia: Young adults across the state will work together on mental healthcare barriers, environmental justice initiatives, and small business development. 
  • Earth Care – Albuquerque, NM: Youth leaders from Indigenous and Latinx immigrant and local Hispano communities will organize a grassroots and media campaign to inspire communities to participate in climate actions, address local environmental justice issues, and advance climate goals in the 2022 elections. 
  • Maryland Students for Educational Equity – state-wide, Maryland: Public school students across rural, suburban, and urban counties in Maryland will collaborate to ensure that schools are spaces where all students can build critical consciousness about the world around them and reach their full potential. 
  • Youth ARTS Initiative – Oakland, CA: A youth-led organization called Bay Peace will implement efforts to heal trauma, prevent violence, and build community through grassroots organizing, community-based art, and advocacy. 
  • Increasing Student Vaccination Rates – Chicago, IL: Students from a charter school on Chicago’s Southside will design and implement educational programming and outreach to increase the school’s student Covid vaccination rate by 60%. 


Civic Spring: Arizona Fellows 

  • Future Arizona: A Youth-Powered Coalition
    Ema Angulo-Rodriguez, Brian Mecinas, Armonne Jackson, and Sahara Sajjadiankhah
    Connecting and supporting youth organizers across Arizona with the training, funding, and networking required to execute strategic voter engagement efforts.  
  • 2022 Midterm Revival Plan 
    Farhan Babur
    Providing voter registration assistance, election information, and nonpartisan candidate information to high school students and citizens in the Scottsdale Community.   
  • Heat Up the Vote
    Trex Jones, Nola Williams, Aresma Abraham, and Delaney Brassell 
    Increasing voter registration and civic engagement education for high school seniors.    
  • Sustainable Fashion, Sustainable Future
    Yurithzan Maltos Iriqui
    Establishing an extracurricular club for youth to collect, create, and upcycle clothing and other donations for those in need.   
  • Building Bridges
    Jillian McDonald
    Creating connections across youth and adults through community building events focused on environmental sustainability.   
  • Checkmate Dementia
    Srikar Potharaju and Mauricio Rubino
    Mitigating the effects of premature dementia by utilizing games and other mentally stimulating activities as cognitive enhancers and recreational activities.   
  • Community Health and Wellness 
    Jade Robey 
    Producing a podcast on mental health and wellness for the visually impaired and elderly community of Peoria.  
  • Project Sole
    Dalton Shapiro
    Conducting community-based surveys to bring awareness for the reduction, reuse, and recycling of soles in shoes. 


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