My “work” has been rooted in interfaith spiritual care, youth-led community organizing, transnational organizing, principle-based activism, community-based participatory research, radical pedagogy and grassroots non-profit development.
- Curriculum development for experiential learning with youth and young adults using experience, theatre, dialogue and reflection activities as individuals and groups
- Connecting faith or moral principles to strategic, justice-related projects with interfaith and secular communities
- Facilitating strategic plans and group processes towards the goal of inclusion, participation and vision– particularly within the development of community-led organizations
- Community-based and participatory action research — connecting research practices to help us determine root concerns, feelings, stories and ideas about issues alongside qualitative and quantitative data
- Intentional preparation for groups participating in transnational exchange programs (i.e. privilege, oppression, hospitality, power, wholeheartedness, reflection and dialogue skills)
- Story-telling and ritual for non-profit groups and families that connect current issues to larger myths, beliefs and processes for moving through, including issues of grief, death and age.
- Spiritual care (chaplaincy) for individuals, groups and communities, informed by contemplative practices, community psychology and depth psychology; particularly towards developing the internal resources necessary to act in solidarity for social and ecological justice in the world.
Youth-Led and Transnational Community Organizing:
The Child Leader Project (CLP)
From 2008-2013, I founded and led Child Leader Project as the board president and Executive Learner. Child Leader Project or (CLP) was developed specifically to create safe and engaging spaces for young people and their allies to reflect, connect, dialogue, act and regenerate their lives on social and ecological justice issues that mattered most to them. During my time as the Executive Learner, the organization led programs and projects for over 500 young people from South India, Southern California and Mexico. This organization was widely recognized as an innovator in it’s field, including recognition from Clinton Global Initiative University, Sister Cities International, Rotary Bangalore-India, Riverside City Hall-California, and the University of California, Riverside (UCR). In 2011, Child Leader Project split into two separate groups– Child Leader Project in the USA, and Trust for Youth and Child Leadership in India- to provide year-around leadership development for young people in their local communities. CLP’s activities included the following:
- Send US to India: Exchange programs of high school youth activists to South India, to study Indian activism and justice issues.
- Confronteras: For first generation youth in the USA, the stories of their families cross the USA-Mexico border are
often quieted tales. This program partners with Borderlinks to connect high school youth immigration activists to those on both sides of the border who are committed to human rights for all.
- Arlanza Community Garden: A regeneration of a fallowed community garden in one of Riverside’s seven food deserts. This garden is Riversides only youth-led, permaculture-designed garden on city property.
- Social Justice Saturdays: Innovative-one-day programs for youth activists to learn, through a experience and dialogue, the social and ecological justice issues in their local and regional communities by meeting with activists, organizers and citizens of those communities.
- Sustainable Vocations: In partnership with Quail Springs Permaculture Farm, CLP committed to sending youth representatives each year to Sustainable Vocations– a three-week experience on a sustainable human settlement in the Central Valley of California, where youth learn what it means to live in a regenerative culture and listen to their calling.
Media about Samantha Gupta and CLP:
- CNN Interview with Samantha Wilson (Gupta), October 2009
- University of California highlights Samantha Wilson (Gupta) and Child Leader Project, December 2012
- Advancement Project Highlights Samantha Wilson (Gupta) and Child Leader Project Mapping as part of 21st Century Civil Rights – 2013
- CLP’s Official YouTube Page: “Vision of CLP” (20 Videos)
Principle-Based Activism/Spiritual Activism: Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministries
From 2009-2012, I served as a consultant and curriculum developer for the Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministries of CA. In response to the need to develop impactful, spiritually-grounded, leadership training programs for young adults (age 18-35), I collaborated with Rev. Sonya Sukalski to develop SALT: Spiritual Activist Leadership Training. This innovative program combined experiential learning, theological reflection, hybrid learning models and mentorship to provide young adult Unitarian Universalists with the theological and activist skills to make changes in their local communities. Under Sonya’s leadership, this program received incredible attention as a duplicable model for the relevant and transformative engagement of young, progressive people of faith. To get “taste” of SALT and what spiritual activism for young adults can do, check out this video made by SALT fellow, Michael Grohsman.
Community-Based Participatory Action Research
From 2009-2011, I was the founding coordinator of the office of Undergraduate Research in the Community (UGRC) for the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education at the University of California, Riverside. In this role, I developed partnerships with over 25 community-based partners in the Inland Empire, matching nearly 100 students to community projects and faculty mentors. The office was the first of its kind at UCR, dedicated to building undergraduate capacity to see community members as people, research as powerful and community leaders as collaborators in learning. The office hosted a Community-Based Research Seminar, community presentations and dialogues for local organizations and matching services for faculty, students and community partners.