Lead with courage

John Rodriguez
Leaders of Color 2021-2022
In vibrant communities, all people are welcomed, included, valued and nurtured. The racial disparities our communities face, though, prove that we’re not there. Champions for Change inspires and cultivates leaders as we all work toward a co-liberated future. Together, we can find new ways to disrupt the many forms of racism.

Our community of practice is a space for imagination, healing, experimentation and transformation. Here, Leaders of Color are nurtured and supported as they grow their social change work. White Leaders learn ways to wholeheartedly leverage their power and privilege for justice. Together, we’re laying the groundwork for systemic change in our communities.

Applications for the 2022-23 Champions for Change cohort are now closed. Click the button below to stay in the loop on the next opportunity to join!

 Why Champions for Change and why NEW?

Our nonprofit ecosystem doesn’t include enough mission-driven leaders of color as decision-makers. Yet representation – a seat at the table – isn’t enough. To truly shift power and foster cultures of belonging, we must value leaders of color for who they are and what they offer. NEW invests in leaders of color by cultivating communities that are supportive of their leadership, so that we can move toward justice together.

Yen Azarro
I feel more knowledgeable about local history, challenges, and opportunities. I have a greater sense of some of the things I want/need to continue learning and practicing. And also a stronger urge to get involved in local efforts with ideas of who to ask for help getting involved in those efforts.

Josyln Hunscher-Young
Leader of Color 2021-2022

listener, thinker, organizer, caregiver, and educator!

Carly Friedrich

Carly Friedrich & Hamida Bhagirathy
NEW Learning Communities Team


In Champions for Change (CFC), you’ll grow in your abilities as a values-driven leader. You’ll uncover the implicit and explicit ways race has impacted your lived-experiences. You’ll practice dialogue across identity. And you’ll conspire with others to spur change towards racial co-liberation.

Champions for Change Fellows commit to a ten-month-long (10 months) intensive leadership development program. Fellows meet every two to three (2-3) weeks in four-hour (4-hour) sessions. Right now, we anticipate sessions will take place in-person in Washtenaw County. Each session emphasizes building relationships, sharing stories, practicing deep listening, and skill-building. (We also make time to share lunch together!)

We’ve built this year’s CFC cohort as three (3) affinity groups: Black Leaders, Multicultural Leaders, and White Leaders. This is because we have different needs on our journeys to racial justice and collective healing. We all need space to share honestly and deeply about our experiences, lowering our armor. These affinity groups allow us to do that.

The ‘22-’23 cohort will include up to thirty-two (32) Fellows from communities across Washtenaw County. Most sessions will include time both in affinity groups and all together. This approach minimizes harm and creates moments for deeper dialogue with the cohort.

Through this experience, you’ll:

  • Deepen your understanding and skills for advancing social and racial justice, equity and inclusion.
  • Enhance your emotional skills and practices of courage, resilience and compassion to sustain justice work.
  • Honor the wisdom and experiences of the CFC community by uplifting their knowledge and expertise.
  • Strengthen your relationships with other justice-focused leaders across Washtenaw County who are focused on racial justice.
  • Identify and upend unjust policies, practices and procedures within your spheres of influence.
  • Support Leaders of Color to assume leadership roles across sectors and industries in Washtenaw County



Saturday, September 24th, 10am – 2pm


Kickoff Retreat

Saturday, October 8th, 9am – 2pm


Grounding in Our Stories

Saturday, October 22nd, 10am – 2pm


Washtenaw Historical Journey

Saturday, November 5th, 9am – 12pm AND Saturday, November 19th, 10am – 2pm


Introduction to Dialogue

Saturday, December 10th, 10am – 2pm


Courageous Conversations

Saturday, January 21st, 10am – 2pm


Embedded Racism & Embodied Resistance

Saturday, February 11th, 10am – 2pm


Reflecting on our Organizations

Saturday, March 11th, 10:00am – 2:00pm



Saturday, April 1st, 10:00am – 2:00pm


White Leaders Retreat

Saturday, May 6th, 10:00am – 6:00pm


Leaders of Color Retreat

Friday, May 19th at 9am – Sunday, May 21st at 2pm



Saturday, June 3rd, 10am – 2pm


How Do I Know if Champions for Change is Right for Me?

Our Fellows are Washtenaw County leaders from diverse backgrounds, committed to advancing racial justice and social change in various ways. They’re eager to partner with others across lines of difference and form deep relationships. They’re ready to grow and learn, both together and alone. They’re excited to engage in reflective, affective, and experiential learning.

The Leaders of Color (LOC) Fellowship is open to self-identifying People of Color; this includes our Black and Multiethnic affinity groups.  Our White Leaders (WL) Fellowship is open to self-identifying White or White-presenting people. Fellows must be 18 years or older and live or work in Washtenaw County. This fellowship is open to all people, regardless of citizenship.

How are Fellows selected?

Applications for the 2022-23 Fellowship will open on August 1st, 2022 at 9:00am and close on August 18th at 8:00am. You’ll be able to submit your application virtually, via a link shared on this page. After that our team will invite prospective Fellows to participate in 15-minute virtual conversations. Relationships matter in Champions for Change, and we know you’re so much more than the “written word” of an application. This is your chance to share more about yourself and your passion for racial co-liberation!

The most important element of your application is your personal commitment to advancing racial justice in Washtenaw County.  Otherwise, you must:

  • Live or work in Washtenaw County (regardless of citizenship).
  • Be available to attend program sessions and complete session pre-work.
  • Demonstrate openness to learning, readiness to engage, and the will to be vulnerable. You must be ready to grow, on your own and as a collective.
  • Be committed to deepening relationships in our community.

We’ll also consider the diversity of the cohorts, with the following identities in mind:

  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Gender (identity or expression, beyond the binary welcome)
  • Age
  • Work – sector and industry
How Much Does It Cost?

Champions for Change has different participation fees for Leaders of Color and White Leaders. This is because systemic racism and other forms of oppression have created significant economic disparity between our communities. This fee structure is one way NEW is reducing barriers to entry and practice equity in our programming.

We also encourage employers to sponsor their staff. For those who are able, consider sponsoring applicants to both White Leaders and Leaders of Color. Prior experience has taught us that this is one of the best ways to impact institutional change. If you want to sponsor folks on your team, we recommend first reviewing the application criteria. Then it’s best to check in with both members on their interest and capacity to engage. After that, ask them to complete the application.

Your organization can do better than an anti-racism statement. Invest in your team!

If you’re sponsored by an employer, your participation fee is two thousand dollars ($2,000.00).

If you’re a Leader of Color paying for yourself, there is no cost for you to participate. However, we welcome donations from Leaders of Color who are able to ensure CFC lives on.

If you’re a White Leader paying for yourself, we offer a sliding scale fee for your participation in Champions for Change. After assessing your capacity, you can pay either five hundred, one thousand, or two thousand dollars ($500, $1000 or $2,000). Even if you are concerned about the cost, we encourage you to apply. We will do our absolute best to make it work.

Your ability to pay will in no way affect your application to the program.

What's the 2022-23 schedule?

All sessions listed below take place in person in Washtenaw County and are required for Fellows to attend, unless otherwise noted.

We’ll monitor and adhere to Washtenaw County and CDC guidelines related to COVID-19 for all in person gatherings. Sessions marked with * will take place virtually.

Orientation Saturday, September 24th
10am – 2pm
Kickoff Retreat Saturday, October 8th
10am – 2pm
Grounding in Our Stories Saturday, October 22nd
9am – 2pm
Champions for Change Social (Optional) Wednesday, October 26th
6pm – 8pm
Washtenaw Historical Journey: Part 1* Saturday, November 5th
9am – 12pm
Washtenaw Historical Journey: Part 2 Saturday, November 19th
10am – 2pm
Introduction to Dialogue Saturday, December 10th
10:00am – 2:00pm
Champions for Change Social (Optional) Wednesday, January 11th
6pm – 8pm
Courageous Conversations Saturday, January 21st
10am – 2pm
Embedded Racism & Embodied Resistance Saturday, February 11th
10am – 2pm
Reflecting on Our Organizations Saturday, March 11th
10am – 2pm
Visioning Saturday, April 1st
10am – 2pm
Champions for Change Social (Optional) Tuesday, April 25th
6pm – 8pm
White Leaders Retreat (Local) Saturday, May 6th
10am – 6pm
Leaders of Color Retreat (Idlewild, MI) Friday, May 19th – Sunday, May 21st
Depart: 9am | Return: 2pm
Celebration Saturday, June 3rd
10am – 2pm


Get direct updates on the next Champions for Change cohort!