This spring, Fresh Tracks, a leadership initiative for opportunity youth created in 2015 by several members of the LBC Action team, transitioned within the Aspen Institute from the Center for Native American Youth to Opportunity Youth Forum, where it is now a program of the Forum for Community Solutions. In its new home, Fresh Tracks will continue to be a cross-cultural training platform that brings together young leaders from indigenous, rural, and urban communities nationwide.
The Call to Action
In 2015 President Obama visited Arctic Alaska. Moved by the beauty of the land and the resilience of the people, he issued a call for programs that would connect young Americans to the outdoors. Although there was no LBC Action yet, the people, values, and capabilities that would come to define LBC Action were ready to answer that call. The idea: bring aspiring leaders from urban and indigenous communities together for a shared experience blending civic engagement, cultural-sharing, and outdoor exploration.
Martin LeBlanc and Juan Martinez have decades of experience rallying coalitions of nonprofit, business, and public-sector stakeholders around an opportunity. To bring Fresh Tracks to life, they brought a carefully constructed line-up of partners to the table, each with a unique skill set that was essential for the success of the project. Soon, the White House, the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, the City of Compton, and the Sierra Club were working in concert with IslandWood and the Children & Nature Network’s Natural Leaders on a groundbreaking project backed by the Campion Foundation and REI.
We believe that sustaining impact starts with measuring impact. We were confident Fresh Tracks would instill skills that young adults needed to become community leaders. But confidence is not enough. So we engaged Dr. Sharoni Little from the USC Marshall School of Business to design and conduct a formal assessment of the Fresh Tracks pilot that used both quantitative and qualitative methodologies to measure impact. The assessment found that the program increased participant knowledge and skills around key objectives, especially civic engagement, cultural competency, interpersonal leadership and communication, and environmental stewardship and justice.
How do you keep an alliance of partners spread over thousands of miles moving in step toward a shared goal? The easy answer is conference calls – lots of conference calls. The motivation was rooted in the big picture – bringing two cohorts of young leaders together for the journey of a lifetime – but the success depended on the details. Martin and Juan led the process that transformed the idea of Fresh Tracks into action, emphasizing the principles that are key to the LBC Action approach today: accountability, adaptability, empowerment, and humanity.
In this team culture, accountability didn’t just mean that every person had a job to do. Accountability meant a shared ethos. Know the details. Reroute around the unexpected. Bring out the best in each other. Remember why. That philosophy became a foundation for action. The result? Over the last five years, Fresh Tracks engaged with 300+ stakeholders across the nation including a diverse range of community organizers and leaders, policymakers and government representatives, foundation leaders, investors, and most importantly, many inspiring youth movement leaders. Today, Fresh Tracks has a home, an expanding base of support, and a set of guiding aims that build toward a thriving network of youth leaders working across cultures to drive systems change and improve civic engagement, wellbeing, and life outcomes. As a program of the Forum for Community Solutions, Fresh Tracks will continue to support youth leaders implement community action plans through financial support, technical assistance, and peer-to-peer mentoring.
Fresh Tracks has allowed me to develop in so many ways – mentally, emotionally, and physically. The leadership training, the focus on implicit bias, and the opportunity to embrace the healing power of nature have all been life changing. Now I’m helping other people soar. Currently, I am a legislative aide, an advisory board member to My Brother’s Keeper Boston, and a supporter of other organizations that advocate for youth in our community.
Devin Edwards, Boston
Fresh Tracks Trainer Since 2018
Fresh Tracks Communications
In early 2016, future members of LBC Action built support for the program that would become Fresh Tracks. To help bring it to life, they assembled a creative team to choose a name, design a logo, and create the signature hats that have been worn from the Arctic Circle to Washington D.C. LBC Action has continued to support Fresh Tracks communications through narrative strategy, website development, and collateral production.