Catalysts of Change: My Fellowship Evolution

Creative Reaction Lab
2 min readMay 28, 2024

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Michel Mora Peñaloza

Although my Seeds of Power Fellowship experience at Creative Reaction Lab has been short, I’ve embarked on a transformative journey of learning and growth. Through various experiences and opportunities, I have gained a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding equity and justice in my community and beyond. My fellowship has provided me with valuable insights into the root causes of inequities, such as systemic racism, socioeconomic disparities, and gender inequality. Through discussions and our SOP Fellows retreat, I have developed a greater perspective on the challenges faced by marginalized communities.

Throughout my fellowship, my main focus has been bringing Young Leaders for Health Equity and Civic Change to Chicago. This youth leadership program (YLP) by Creative Reaction Lab (CRXLAB) trains Black and Latino/a/x/e youth to redesign unjust systems and create inclusive communities. Young Leaders for Health Equity and Civic Change offers Black and Latino/a/x/e youth creative confidence and clear pathways to leverage their problem solving abilities for community organizing purposes. In the process of making this YLP happen, I’ve been able to volunteer at grassroots organizations, participate in advocacy campaigns, and collaborate with community leaders. This project has allowed me to engage with diverse perspectives and voices, which has broadened my awareness of privilege and power dynamics. This awareness has empowered me to become a more active and empathetic advocate for equity and justice.

Among my learnings from CRXLAB are that I need to evolve my understanding of equity issues and be willing to adapt my actions and beliefs accordingly. My impact on equity in my community can be significant, through actions ranging from collecting petition signatures, to participating in protests and to even lobbying for policy changes that promote fairness and justice. Reflecting on my own privilege and how it may contribute to inequalities has helped me navigate different ideas of how to use my privilege to uplift marginalized voices and challenge systems of oppression. In my efforts to build a strong, resilient community where everyone has access to resources and opportunities, Isupport local businesses, participate in community events, and collaborate with other Chicago organizations to address common challenges. Overall, my fellowship experience has been instrumental in deepening my understanding of equity and justice, equipping me with the knowledge, skills, and commitment to continue advocating for a more equitable and just society long after the fellowship concludes.

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Creative Reaction Lab

At Creative Reaction Lab, we believe that Black and Latinx youth are integral to advancing racial equity and developing interventions for their communities.