Shekinah Chapel – Riverdale, Illinois
- Emerging Leader: Shawanda Jackson
- Grant Program: Emerging Leader
- Amount of Grant: $10,000
- Dates of Grant Term: April 2017 – April 2019
Shawanda Jackson’s leadership at Shekinah Chapel includes oversight of the dance ministry, young adult ministry, women’s ministry, choir, Shekinah Chapel Ambassadors and Shekinah Pearls. She served as a delegate for the 2016 Aids and HIV Conference in Durbin, South Africa for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), is a member of the ELCA Votes Cohort, and was part of the ELCA youth Exchange in Germany as a teenager. She has dedicated over eight years, both academically and professionally, to serving, working with and mentoring youth. The first in her family to graduate from college, Shawanda holds a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Community Uplift Strategies from Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, North Carolina. She is a charter member of S.A.V.E. (Students Against Violence Everywhere, Hyde Park Career Academy Chapter). Currently, Shawanda is an Academic Advisor at Pathway Leadership Academy and is also the founder of Queens In Motion and the initiative Black Girls Read.
The Riverdale, Illinois, community has many obstacles—lack of jobs and fresh food, antiquated sewer systems, and low-performing schools. Nearly 50% of the population is 18 and under. Youth are looking for a space to creatively express themselves and become engaged in the community. Through its Summer Breeze program, Shekinah Chapel will engage professionals from the congregation in the fields of art, dance, poetry and music to work with youth in these areas. A partnership with “Fearless Leading By the Youth” will also train youth in civic engagement and community organizing methods. This allows youth the opportunity to research, discuss, and engage in action regarding the injustices in their own community and how their faith informs this action. Taken together, youth will get guidance on how to transfer their action for change into creative expression which will culminate in a community concert and recorded studio album.