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Youth activists are mercy in action!

The Summit Leadership Academy is a week-long rigorous training program with a focus on motivating youth to be proactive social change agents.  Through hands-on seminars participants explore such topics as personal leadership style; role of contextual reality; spiritual and ethical dimensions; concepts of power/empowerment; and the interplay of gender, race and social class.  They also learn professional level skills of project development, implementation and evaluation.

In Summer 2016 more than 35 youth from ARISE (A Resource in Serving Equality) participated in SLA.  ARISE is located in Alamo, Texas and works closely with the imigrant community living along the South Texas-Mexico border.  There were several projects, but one particularly stands out one year later:  South Tower Power Campaign.

The issue which these youth chose to address is related to the environmental and health hazards related to the Alamo Wastetreatment Plant located right in their community. Residents have been complainging for years about the foul odors, stomach illness, headaches and various other safety concerns for children who play in the area.

The action this group of youth has taken includes:

  • visiting various water treatment plants with the Alamo city manager to become educated on the process;
  • keeping the residents informed about activities and developments;
  • leveraging social media in both English and Spanish to keep the community engaged;
  • encouraging residents to keep logs of when conditions are better or worse than usual to help officials isolate the source of the problems; and
  • meeting with the local chapter of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Hidaldo County Commissioners Court, and the Alamo City Commission.

 Evidence of impact has been demonstrated through the EPA's pledge to work with the community to find a solution and through the media coverage they have received in The Monitor newspaper and the Brownsville Diocese paper The Valley Catholic.  

Lupita Perez, age 22, says "I want change, especially for the children of our community." ARISE teaches youth if they want to see change they must become involved members of their communities and society.  Building on this the Summit Leadership Academy helps youth to give life to their passion and vision for a better future and to develop the skills to take an idea from dream to reality.

SLA has been offered throughout the US and internationally in Mexico, Haiti and Cuba.  If you would like to bring SLA to YOUR organization or community or wish to make a contribution to help cover costs for projects run in under-resourced areas please contact us at

To learn more about ARISE or to support this fantastic group of youth activities please contact ARISE Executive Director, Lourdes Flores, at


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