Perrin Family Foundation envisions a Connecticut where young people are vital leaders in creating safe, healthy and just communities.
The mission of the Perrin Family Foundation is to partner with organizations based in under-resourced communities across Connecticut in order to create environments that support youth as leaders of social change.
The Perrin Family Foundation understands youth-led social change as a long-term process that builds the confidence, knowledge, skills and collective leadership of young people while addressing the root causes of injustice and equity in their lives and community.
Young people’s voices and perspectives are inherently valuable. Cultivating the capacity of youth to act as agents of social change not only builds lasting, transferrable skills, it also paves the way for life-long participation and leadership in the civic sphere
- Working in partnership with adults to create sustainable community change generates uniquely powerful youth development and leadership opportunities.
- Community organizing, which builds community members’ collective power to advance systemic change, is a proven and effective strategy for creating transformative change in individuals and communities.
- Creating equitable access and opportunities for all will require fundamental change in public systems and institutions where inequities have historically existed and are often perpetuated.
- Social Change Defined- The Perrin Family Foundation understands youth-led social change as a long-term process that builds the confidence, knowledge, skills and collective leadership of young people while addressing the root causes of injustice and equity in their lives and community.
A Letter from Sheila Perrin, Co-Founder and Board Chair
The Perrin Family Foundation has always focused on improving the lives of youth in our community. Since the founding of our foundation in 1994, we have supported afterschool programs as well as organizations improving mental health for children and teenagers. Some of these programs include arts organizations that help youth express their inner feelings and emotions, mentoring programs that connect youth with caring adults who provide individual support and many after school programs designed to help young people improve their academic skills. As time has gone by we have learned a great deal about the issues that face this population. We have also met many dedicated adults who have devoted countless hours to helping young people grow and develop. But it has become increasingly apparent that despite our best intentions, we as adults are dictating to youth about what they need and not listening to them.
Many youth from under resourced communities feel powerless to affect change in their lives. They have been provided with a myriad of social services, but they have not really been encouraged to join in conversations with adults about what directly impacts them. They have not been regularly included in discussions about the educational inequities they live with everyday. They have not been able to have ongoing discussions about the root causes of bullying that they experience everyday. They are not included in discussions about the lack of availability of healthy food in their neighborhood stores. Adults are making decisions without the major stakeholders being part of the process.
Youth adult partnerships are essential if there is any progress to be made on important issues facing young people. Would we discuss a house renovation with everyone but the owners? But, before this discussion can happen effectively, youth need to develop the skill sets to talk about their concerns, investigate how to deal with them and develop a solution. Youth need to be given the time and space to take a look at their lives, articulate their thoughts and feelings, make choices and take some action. As with any good relationship, developing partnerships with adults to create some change requires patience and understanding that thoughtfully developed leadership skills will take youth into the future to become engaged citizens of our society. It is a process necessary to build strong, confident leaders who are capable of questioning the status quo, suggesting alternatives to discriminatory policies and thinking about solutions. It is a process that enables our youth to feel good about themselves and confident in their opinions and capabilities to create change.
It is with these thoughts in mind, that the Perrin Family Foundation has changed its direction for the coming years. We want to help create environments where youth working collectively are valued and respected as contributing members of the communities they live in. We want to support youth adult partnerships as a core strategy for engaging youth in major decisions and collaborations around social issues of their choice.