Obama Foundation Community Leadership Corps

Giovanni Jones ’21 and Tiana Starks ’21, two of eight Trinity students and young alumni taking part in the Obama Foundation Community Leadership Corps in Hartford. Photo by Andrew J. Concatelli

Eight Trinity College students and recent graduates are among the 100 young people from the Hartford area selected to be a part of the Obama Foundation’s Community Leadership Corps (CLC) this year. Kayla Betts ’21, Giovanni Jones ’21, Shamarah Patnett ’21, Tiana Starks ’21, and Vidhi Vasa ’22, as well as alumni Jenna Behan ’19, Brian Nance ’16, M’19, and Courtney Roach ’16, learned of their selections in April.

The CLC is a six-month program in which participants ages 18 to 25 work together to develop projects that address opportunities and challenges in their community. The program includes three local in-person trainings, local mentorship, online coaching, and funds to support team projects. At the first training in June, CLC members were placed on teams to complete a group project in their community over the course of the six-month program.

Jones and Starks are both Hartford Promise Scholars who came to Trinity from Global Communications Academy in Hartford. Vasa is an international student from India who will be staying in Hartford this summer. All three said that they wanted to find a way to make a difference in their community. “I think it’s important to be among other residents and people who care about Hartford because there is a stereotype that no one cares,” Starks said. “There are people who care, but they need the necessary tools and enhanced opportunities.”

Jones added, “In the Community Leadership Corps, we are being given full freedom to choose what topics we want to focus on. This is a great opportunity to be in a room with other leaders.”

Applicants were selected based on the qualities of leadership potential; community investment; adaptability; and alignment with Obama Foundation values, which include teamwork, humility, integrity, inclusivity, stewardship, fearlessness, and imagination. The foundation says that CLC members will gain valuable skills in community organizing, design thinking, and project management, along with valuable hands-on experience designing and implementing community projects with a team.

Vasa said that she is excited to learn more about the city and about what she can do to give back to the community. “This summer will give me the opportunity to explore the city and build connections not only with the people at Trinity but in the city of Hartford,” she said.

The CLC launched in 2018 in Chicago; Columbia, South Carolina; and Phoenix. This year, the CLC is taking place in Chicago—the home of the Obama Foundation—and in Hartford, which is home to a large population under 25 and dozens of organizations doing youth- and civic-focused work.

Read more about the Obama Foundation and its selection of Hartford as a location for its program.