Alliant International University in partnership with the Alliant Education Foundation is excited to announce this year’s Community Collaborative Equity Fellows (CCEF). Designed for individuals who are experienced leaders, academic researchers, policy advocates, and educational practitioners, this fellowship is an opportunity for four community scholars to join the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Alliant as an Equity Fellow for one academic year.
Equity Fellows will build leadership, collaboration, and problem-solving skills as they develop and implement strategic initiatives and programs that cultivate a more diverse and equitable community. The Fellowship is offering four distinct grants to support recipients who are committed to reducing racial and socioeconomic inequality in underserved and underrepresented communities, and breaking down systemic barriers to bridge the opportunity and achievement gaps in these communities. This year’s Equity Fellows will focus on:
Educational equity, K-12 STEM, and career development
Health equity, and community access to behavioral health support
Criminal justice reform and anti-racism
Combating domestic extremism, hate, and targeted violence
Below is a brief biography and description of the Equity Fellows and their initiatives. Alliant is proud to help bring this fellowship to fruition and support its efforts toward diversity, equity, and inclusion that will bring positive change and create a more socially just world. Congratulations to this year’s Equity Fellows!
2021-2022 Community Collaborative Equity Fellows (CCEF) and Initiatives
Young Entrepreneur Academy
The Young Entrepreneur Academy contributes to criminal justice reform and anti-racism by addressing the lack of options underserved youth have to self-empowering opportunities that can help benefit their community and reduce recidivism and court-dependency. By offering them access to not only learn about business ownership, but to also become business owners, the Academy will give participants practical skills and mentorship to stimulate their interest in becoming successful entrepreneurs. The Young Entrepreneur Academy believes that business ownership is more empowering than relying solely on external employment. Participants in the Academy will help reduce racial and socioeconomic disparities, and increase access and equity towards creating generational wealth. They will self-actualize as agents of change, empowered to create opportunities for themselves and others by learning from diverse business owners. Over the course of ten weeks, participants will:
Learn fundamental business structures
Develop a business plan
Gain knowledge on industry systems models
Receive one-on-one mentoring
Earn leadership and internship opportunities at successful Diverse Business Enterprises
Dr. Tezeru Teshome is a research-scholar-organizer dedicated to building infrastructure that supports youth empowerment. She holds a doctorate in the fields of Theatre, Civic Engagement, Critical Race & Gender Theory; and facilitates the social reform those disciplines promise across institutions and community organizations that seek to enhance youth civic representation and participation. Since April 2016, Dr. Teshome has served as a San Diego Juvenile Justice Commissioner (SDJJC) where she is leading youth-centered, countywide research on juvenile detention facilities. She offers 10 years of experience in curriculum development and university teaching. Her theoretical work on the racialization of children and use of performance in youth civic engagement has been published in Routledge, small axe journal, and ProQuest
Access Healing Center (community-based chemical dependency Treatment Center)
The Access Healing Center strives to create equity and access to behavioral health support for the African American and immigrant communities. While behavioral health support is available to these communities, many services do not and cannot fully accommodate their needs, and do not address the challenges that prevent many from seeking or accessing the services such as cultural competency, language barriers, and proximity. The Access Healing Center will be an agency that is culturally competent with familiar faces that bring joy and comfort to the eyes of the community support seekers. It will specialize in supporting those that need behavioral health services as well as helping adolescents that need addiction treatment. It will also provide care coordination services to support the family as a whole while removing some of the barriers many face in accessing resources and other services.
Rashad Ahmed is a passionate promoter of peace, unity, and youth development, and works tirelessly to create an equitable and resourceful community. He has extensive experience in leadership, diversity and inclusion, program management, project development, community relations, and non-profit organizations. In his previous roles, Ahmed provided guidance and leadership through management of program metrics and the impact measurement reporting process in all facets including business modeling, fundraising and growth strategies. He is an advocate for youth and families, and thrives on solving problems and overcoming challenges, particularly those that greatly affect our society. Mr. Ahmed also co-founded and leads a non-profit organization aimed to empower the underserved youth population to become professionals and effective leaders of their communities. Mr. Ahmed holds a Master’s in Organizational Leadership from Springfield College in Massachusetts and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences from California State University, San Marcos.
Adopt a School Program
This program will provide regular meaningful engagement in Los Angeles K-12 schools to help address historical gender and racial disparities in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. By exposing students to STEM opportunities at an earlier age, the Adopt a School Program will motivate students to achieve academic, personal, and professional success in STEM, and upward socioeconomic mobility. This program will also help students connect with future planners, engineers, technicians, scientists, and administration professionals. The program is committed to creating innovative solutions to challenges the future will bring, and to helping societies thrive. It will inspire the youth to stay curious, act locally, and think globally, while teaching students to model trust, respect, responsibility, and civic duty to ensure inclusivity in diverse communities.
Claudia Contreras is a Senior Consultant for WSP USA Inc., a globally recognized professional services firm. She was born and raised in Inglewood, California and is a first-generation Guatemalan American. She attended California State University, Long Beach where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and her Master’s in Public Policy and Administration. Claudia is passionate about increasing the visibility and diversity for underrepresented and underserved communities within the engineering and infrastructure field by helping promote opportunities in STEM careers. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and learning about different cultures and customs.
San Diego Stop AAPI Hate Initiative
According to the National Stop AAPI Hate non-profit organization, hate incidents against AAPIs rose sharply over the past year, with 6,600 reports between March 2020 and March 2021. The San Diego Stop AAPI Hate Initiative proposes to organize a series of Stop AAPI Hate summits that will reach AAPIs throughout San Diego County with the goal of reducing racial and socioeconomic inequality in underserved and underrepresented communities. This initiative will create several programs: a speakers bureau to deliver presentations and possible policy recommendations to elected officials and decision makers in local and neighboring communities; forming community partnerships with local law enforcement agencies, educators, schools, businesses, and faith- and community-based organizations to create a communications channel of information and assistance for the AAPI community; a career fair in May 2022 to encourage AAPIs to apply for careers in law enforcement, education, healthcare, mental health counseling, and journalism thereby creating a professional network to refer those in need and help address AAPI hate.
JoAnn Fields is the Government and Public Affairs Director at the Asian Pacific Islander Initiative and Director of the Filipino Resource Center. Fields has the responsibility for helping individuals and community-based organizations navigate government agencies and connecting resources to those in need. Prior to joining the AAPI Initiative and launching the Filipino Resource Center, she worked in multi-levels of government that include the offices of Congresswoman Susan Davis, California State Assembly Member Dr. Shirley Weber, San Diego Council President Pro Tem Anthony Young, Chula Vista Council Member Patricia Chavez and National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis. JoAnn is incredibly active and an engaged community advocate that provides a voice for Filipinos, Asians and Pacific Islanders (FAPI).