Lindberg wasn’t interested in engaging in policymaking at the Legislature; he was focused on culture change and grassroots-level work that could eventually lead to progressive policies. But he thought the program would still be useful. “I knew it would be good for networking, and having knowledge around policy and legislation would be good at some point down the road, too,” he says.
Community Equity Program offers knowledge and space for BIPOC changemakers to connect
The Community Equity Program cohort began meeting in September 2021. Lindberg learned about government structures, the legislative process, explored advocacy, media and communications, and more. “The learning content is presented in a clear and approachable way, so we all walk away with a good understanding of how to move forward in different situations relating to policy and legislation."
He particularly appreciated the program’s flexibility and inclusiveness. Lindberg works remotely and had the job flexibility he needed. But some of his classmates took part in Community Equity Program sessions while they were simultaneously working or teaching. “That is equity,” Lindberg says. "That is meeting people where they are and lifting them up.”
In education sessions and small group meetings, Lindberg and other cohort members connected with each other, shared their experiences and discussed ways to authentically move forward in public policy and advocacy. “As a brown-skinned person sharing space with other POC, when we share our stories in our sessions, I feel myself being comfortable. I feel heard,” Lindberg says.
Lindberg joins the Ethnic Studies Coalition to create change in schools
Through his engagement in the Community Equity Program, Lindberg sharpened his focus on education policy. Initially, he had planned to create a survey for educators to share their experiences trying to teach an anti-racist curriculum to students and share it with media to build a public conversation around racism in education. Lindberg says the project stalled when potential survey participants said they couldn’t complete the survey because they didn’t want to rock the boat or they feared for their jobs.
Lindberg asked Community Equity Program manager Miah Ulysse if she could connect him to anyone doing work to ensure that education is just and fair. Miah, in turn, connected Lindberg to a CEP alum who is involved with the Ethnic Studies Coalition, a group that advocates for the state to require ethnic studies in schools. Lindberg joined the coalition, is leading a marketing campaign, and helped strategize about testimony when an ethnic studies bill was being considered in legislative committees this year. “I wouldn’t have known how to strategize for this bill without having learned this in the program,” he says.
As his cohort nears the end of the program year, Lindberg plans to keep up his work with the Ethnic Studies Coalition and is exploring other opportunities to engage in changing education. “Lots of doors are opening,” he says. “I feel better about my life because I’m doing fulfilling work. I knew I wanted to do this work but I didn’t know how to start.”
Lindberg says the Community Equity Program helped him understand that anyone can be a leader. “It’s a great learning experience to help anyone who wants to make change actually do it, and give them the confidence and the tools to actually do it,” he says.