Launched in 2018, the program supports Puerto Rican leaders between the ages of 18 and 27 who are working to advance justice, promote human rights, and help underserved communities. The second cohort of ten fellows will receive $50,000 over eighteen months to work full-time on their projects, which include teaching young people about food sovereignty, strengthening support for LGBTQPIA+ youth, elevating Black youth leadership, and using art to spark political engagement among young people.
Recipients include Cristian Eduardo Martínez Medina, who will use the funds to develop Escuela de Liderazgo Político y Comunitario, a community space for young Black leaders in Yabucoa; Venus A. Páez Hernández, whose S.A.L.V.A. project (Food Sovereignty Achieving Agroecological Vieques) provides educational resources in support of agribusiness development; Cristian J. Laracuente Vázquez, who leads Taller Lumpen, a project that uses street art as a tool for education and the mobilization of resources to combat inequality in Mayagüez; and Luis Mi Rodríguez-Rodríguez, who will create content for the LGBTQ+ community through Pólvora Colectiva Cuir, a digital media collective that generates safe spaces for discussion and debate within the island's queer communities.
"Puerto Rican youth have encountered some of the worst living conditions in generations, from Hurricane Maria to earthquakes to the pandemic," said Karina Claudio Betancourt, director of Open Society Fondations' Puerto Rico Project. "Despite these challenges, their leadership has transformed the political landscape of the island and has resulted in the ousting of the former governor Ricardo Roselló and in the defeat of colonial bipartisan control of the Puerto Rican government."
For a complete list of the 2020 Puerto Rico Youth Fellows, see the Open Society Foundations website.