This year our Student Leadership Conference marked a turning point in redefining student leadership and student impact. A pivotal moment during the event and also for the history of Global Brigades was presenting the numbers that clearly demonstrate the individual impact of every volunteer (click here to see the impact of our volunteers). This year, we proved to our volunteers and donors that every dollar does count, every volunteer is important and every leader is vital to the sustainability of our programs in Honduras, Panama and Ghana. To celebrate these accomplishments, our leadership team launched the GB Campus Chairperson model and the conference marked the beginning of a structural change that would revolutionize how decisions within the organization would be made from then on.
Since the start of Global Brigades, the innovative ideas, the challenging questions and the desire for change in the world brought by students has allowed the organization to fulfill the mission of facilitating sustainable solutions in under-resourced communities. The founders and current leadership have had the benefit of working with these students to implement ideas and then witness firsthand the progress that has been accomplished through student leadership and involvement. As student leaders have taken the initiative to strengthen the presence of Global Brigades on campus by perpetuating cohesion and collaboration between chapters, we have also taken steps to further recognize these leaders on an international level by developing the Global Brigades Campus Chairperson model. This is a role that further hones the skills of exceptional leaders on campus and gives universities a stronger voice on our strategic decisions. The Campus Chairperson is essentially the elected Global Brigades leader at a specific university that empowers and assists all existing chapters by providing guidance and support. On a national level, Campus Chairpersons will have an official platform to give direct input and direction on the future decisions of Global Brigades and decide where extra proceeds and contributions are allocated to community projects.
Currently, 40 out of the 195 universities with Global Brigades chapters have taken the initiative to elect a student leader to fulfill the Campus Chairperson role. During conferences, webinars and calls, the Campus Chairpersons learned about their responsibilities and critical positions on campus. An important aspect of their preparation involved educating each of them on the Global Brigades annual budget and showing how funds all funds are distributed. Without limitation on what more ambitious Campus Chairpersons can accomplish, we have challenged each leader to achieve two objectives this year: 1) To strengthen and grow the Global Brigades organization on campus and 2) To sit on committees to design and implement supplemental programs (described below) which is how extra contributions are allocated.
During this month, Campus Chairpersons will be a part of the first programming decision that involves voting on these extra contributions. Up until now, we have used any extra funds to develop new brigade disciplines for a holistic model and improving brigade operations. Now that there are nine sustainable programs in three countries with no intention of program expansion, we can go deeper to focus on complimenting existing programs and allocating more resources directly to the communities. Ultimately, as a not-for-profit organization committed to its mission, the more we grow our volunteer base, the more that is fundraised, the more efficient the operations, the more resources to be allocated directly to communities. So, what and how are the funds going to be allocated?
Based on budget projections, the Program Leads began developing proposals that would complement the current programs and address the central needs that were defined by the communities and Research & Evaluation team. At the leadership conferences in August and September, students were presented with the 20112 budgets and Program Leads shared their initial ideas for Supplemental Program Proposals. It was up to the Campus Chairpersons to vote on the proposals and bring new ideas to the table. The proposals range from replicating successful programs like the Community Health Workers program and the Patient Referral system in Panama and Ghana, to more innovative proposals such as “Greenovations” for the schools built in Honduras, creating the first waste management system in the communities of rural Panama and opening an agricultural store in Honduras. More details about the supplemental programs can be found here.
Since the conferences, the proposals have been fine-tuned based on the thoughtful questions and input by the Campus Chairpersons. During this time, Campus Chairpersons have also returned to their campuses to receive feedback from fellow leaders. On October 31, Campus Chairpersons will submit their final votes on the proposals they believe will be the most efficient use of extra funds. If it hasn’t become clear yet, there is one essential factor that must be recognized. The amount of funds available to support these supplemental programs is directly related to the number of volunteers that participate in the programs. Therefore, at first seeming very separate, the two Campus Chairperson goals are heavily related and essentially their leadership on campus will determine the breadth of the additional programs that are implemented. Ultimately, every single volunteer that participates in brigade programs takes us a step closer to implementing larger scale projects that complement our current programming within our communities. Student leadership has been officially taken to the next level and at this level the boundaries will only be set by the students themselves.
The winning proposals will be announced during the first week of November and throughout the next year Campus Chairpersons will participate in committees with Program Leads to discuss and define the plan for implementing the project proposal.
If your university is interested in electing a Global Brigades Campus Chairperson, please contact Michelle Menclewicz at firstname.lastname@example.org.