Empowerment through action, education, and self-reflection.
“The true focus of revolutionary change is never merely the oppressive situations which we seek to escape, but that piece of the oppressor which is planted deep within each of us, and which knows only the oppressors’ tactics, the oppressors’ relationships.”
Developed by The Corps Network with consultants from Soul Focused Group, Corpsmember Liberation and Leadership (CLL) is a workshop that seeks to address the impact of systemic oppression on the individual. The workshop is delivered after participants receive an introductory Racial Equity Workshop.
What does Corpsmember Liberation Leadership involve?
CLL is primarily designed for young people of color. Unfortunately, many young people of color inadvertently develop and normalize a negative self-image through the information they absorb through school, media, and many of the systems they encounter. Corpsmember Liberation and Leadership looks to make the invisible, visible. No one can change a condition in their life that they cannot see or understand. CLL guides participants to explore how disempowering thoughts can manifest as counterproductive, unconscious habits. The workshop gives young people the tools to identify counterproductive patterns, interrupt them, and replace them with life-giving patterns.
Over the years, The Corps Network has trained a community of Corps staff to facilitate CLL. The workshop has been presented to an ever-growing number of Corpsmembers enrolled at Corps programs across the country.
LA Conservation Corps
of Corpsmembers found the accompanying Racial Equity Workshop very useful or extremely useful.
of Corpsmembers found the Corpsmember Liberation and Leadership Workshop very useful or extremely useful.
of Corpsmembers agree or strongly agree that the CLL workshop motivated them to think differently about how racism and other biases are built into our society.
After attending the CLL workshop, 74% of Corpsmembers feel very confident or extremely confident in their ability to recognize disempowering patterns that reduce their personal power.
Mile High Youth Corps
To evaluate the impact of the CLL and Racial Equity Workshops, Alterity LLC designed and conducted a survey with Corpsmembers who attended these workshops.
The survey questions were designed in collaboration with TCN and covered the following topics:
- Corpsmembers’ participation in CLL and Racial Equity workshops
- Corpsmembers’ perceptions about the utility of these workshops
- Corpsmembers’ perceptions about the impact of these workshops
- Corpsmembers’ feedback on how to improve these workshops in the future
- Corpsmembers’ feedback on workshop facilitator
- Sociodemographic information about Corpsmembers
Green City Force
- 54 Corpsmembers completed the survey. Most of the participants were from Green City Force (Brooklyn, NY) and Conservation Corps Minnesota and Iowa (St. Paul, MN).
- The average age of study participants was 22 years old.
- Approximately a third of the participants self-identified as Hispanic/Latino origin. Nearly 41% self-identified as Black/African American, 31.5% identified as White, 13.0% identified as more than one race, and 3.7% were American Indian/Alaskan Native or Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI).
- 9% identified male; 53.7% identified female; 3.7% respectively identified as non-binary or transgender.
- Most survey participants (61.1%) had been a Corpsmember for less than 6 months.
- Most survey participants (66.6%) said they were likely or very likely to pursue a conservation/environment career.
Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa
Defining Elements of Racism
- 66% were able to identify elements of racism.
- 22% believed that racism was primarily interpersonal in nature, defined by disrespect or personal bias.
- 85% have directly observed people of different racial backgrounds being treated differently in general and in conservation and environment careers.
Belief Systems and Belonging
- Nearly 75% of Corpsmembers felt confident in their ability to recognize disempowering patterns and adopt new belief systems to break disempowering patterns.
- 8% of Corpsmembers said most of the time they judge how much they can be their true self based on the situation.
Application and Learning
- Nearly 80% of Corpsmembers agreed that they will be able to apply the things they learned in the CLL workshop in their lives.
- 85% of Corpsmembers found the Corpsmember Liberation and Leadership Workshop very useful or extremely useful.
- 85.2% of Corpsmembers found the accompanying Racial Equity Workshop very useful or extremely useful.
- 83.3% of Corpsmembers agree of strongly agree that the CLL workshop motivated them to think differently about how racism and other biases are built in to our society.
- After attending the CLL workshop, 74% of Corpsmembers feel very confident or extremely confident in their ability to recognize disempowering patterns that reduce their personal power.
- 85.1% of Corpsmembers agree or strongly agree that they can identify ways in which people from different racial backgrounds are treated differently.
What Corpsmembers Said
- “I enjoyed how the space felt in a sense where folks were not called out, but called in to become empowered individuals who recognize how racism and power affect different people.”
- “I believe that the dialogue was a really valuable one to have and watching everyone share and relate how their experiences are interconnected to one bigger picture was definitely a positive experience to be a part of.”
- “It was very empowering and informative, it touched on a few topics I was unaware of and was able to gain more insight.”
- “As a Corpsmember, I found the Corpsmember Liberation & Leadership training highly beneficial and relevant to the Conservation Corps MN & IA and its values. I also learned about what is in my ‘groundwater’ and how it affects my own implicit biases and how those effect my decisions and conversations on a day-to-day basis. Some of the groundwater is clean and comes from good sources but there is definitely tainted groundwater that leads to areas where I need to unlearn things in order to better myself as a person and as a leader in my community. This training also provided an opportunity for me, as a BIPOC woman, to have space to learn. The Corpsmember Liberation and Leadership training provided an opportunity for safe discussion places where we could discuss and grow through any discomfort together.”
Impact of Training
- There is significant variability in Corpsmembers’ responses regarding understanding power. The CLL workshop had a higher impact on motivating Corpsmembers on how to think about racism, bias, and leadership.
Knowledge, Skills, and Awareness
- Most Corpsmembers are able to recognize disempowering patterns and are aware of resources to help them. More than half of the respondents feel they have to judge whether or not they can be themselves in situations.
- Corpsmembers appreciated having the opportunity to talk in an open setting about race power and leadership. Many extracted more expansive views of definitions and historical contexts.
- Corpsmembers felt the workshop would be improved by having more opportunities for engagement with the topics and each other. Understandably, Corpsmembers felt the CLL workshop would be better if it were delivered in person (many participated via Zoom due to Covid-19 protocols).
Feedback on Facilitators
- Corpsmembers found the facilitators to be engaging and knowledgeable.
- More could be done to assist Corpsmembers in feeling comfortable participating in discussions.