The second annual Garden State Leaders program will begin accepting applications on Friday, April 15. Garden State Leaders, a program coordinated by the New Jersey Coalition to End Homelessness and the Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey, is an advocacy and leadership program for New Jerseyans who have experienced poverty. The program seeks to empower leaders with lived experiences of poverty or homelessness to become advocates for Poverty Solutions.
“Through the Garden State Leaders Program, we are working with people who have lived experience of homelessness and poverty to share their voices and stories for effective change,” said Jeffrey Wild, Executive Director of NJ Coalition to End Homelessness
Jean Paul Steinberg, a graduate of the 2015 class and currently a student at Kean College, says the program helped him realize that there are many others who have experienced homelessness and poverty.
"Not only have I met and become friends with some amazing peers, I have had the chance to connect with educators and legislators willing to listen to those of us who have been affected by poverty and homelessness and are ready to engage in conversations about reform," said Steinberg. "We may still have a ways to go but with organizations like the New Jersey Coalition to End Homelessness and the Anti-Poverty Network and programs like Garden State Leaders we can all see a very bright light at the end of a tunnel that no longer seems so distant."
This year’s class will practice storytelling techniques, learn how to navigate the legislative process as an advocate, and gain an understanding of the structural impediments to economic opportunity in New Jersey.
"The experience of poverty can feel incredibly disempowering, because it is often the result of economic and social realities that are outside of the individual's control," explained Serena Rice, Executive Director of the Anti-Poverty Network. "But these experiences can also be incredibly powerful in advocacy, and the Garden State Leaders program provides the opportunity for impacted individuals to learn how to use that power to call for changes that will help our entire state."
Interested applicants can fill out the online form found here or call Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg, Communications Manager for APN, at 917-273-7088. The program will be held at Thomas Edison State College in Trenton.