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Hello, my name is Celina Johnson (16, Rising Senior, NYC), and I am a teen writer/activist for low income communities. I plan to one day build a nonprofit organization, which the goal is to rebuild and drastically improve all low income black neighborhoods in America, starting with the most dangerous and crime ridden.

I have been reaching out to many organizations and individuals that seem to align with my life goals and purpose through emails. That has not produced as much of an effective response as I would like. I soon plan to start calling organizations and individuals instead, as I feel I would make more of a lasting and effective impression.

I’m reaching out for advice on how I should go about enacting change at 16 years old.

I only have the ambition and drive when it comes to making a better society for everyone and I'm hoping it'll be utilized to its fullest extent.

       Thanks very much for your important question, and apologies for our delay in getting back to you, as our Advisor has been on vacation.
      We surely admire and applaud your ambitious goals, which if achieved could do no less than transform our society.  We very much encourage you to pursue your goals and dreams.  But we’re sure you realize that this may take a little while!  So a key question as we see it is how should you begin.
       We think it’s helpful to narrow your focus to something that you think you can actually accomplish with the resources (people, money, time) you have on hand.
       It’s okay to start small, simply because you are more likely to actually get something done, and which you can feel good about. That small success will help keep you going.  And it will draw more people to your work – if they see the actual success, they are more likely to want to be part of it and join you. 
         So set clear, realistic, specific, and measurable objectives. We recommend actually writing these down, as that will clarify your thoughts. Show them to others whose opinions you value, and ask for feedback. In any case, thoughtful and careful advance planning will surely help you here.
        It will also be good to find other people to work together with you, as part of a core planning group.  Working with a group can help you divide the tasks, which can naturally be considerable, and it will expose you to other people’s good ideas too.   Your planning colleagues can support you, both practically and emotionally as well. And also, it’s generally more enjoyable to work together.  (As an alternative, rather than form your own group, you can join or link up with a compatible group that exists already.)
       In addition, as you proceed, you may profit from consulting some of the many resources in the Community Tool Box, in particular those chapters and sections on planning (in Chapter 8) and on starting an intervention (in Chapter 19) (See the Tool Box Table of Contents for details, at https://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents.)
       One final comment for now: When you say at the end of your note, ”I only have the ambition and drive…,” this to us is actually the most important thing you can have.   Significant and lasting social change rarely occurs unless someone or some group really wants it, down deep, with every fiber of their being.  So an important part of your task, we think, is to sustain that ambition and drive throughout your entire life. It’s one thing to have it at 16. But how can you design your life (if you want to) so that you’ll have the same ambition and drive at 26, or 46, or 66 and beyond?
       We hope these starting thoughts may be helpful to you.  Thank you for writing to us, and all very best wishes for success as your work continues.

Question Date: أحد, 08/14/2022