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The Indigenous Advocacy and Research Program will provide a platform for young research Fellows from Italy to lead as a catalyst for conscious thought, inclusive discourse, and advocacy to impact the migrant community and African diaspora in Italy through youth-led research initiatives that focus on countering Afrophobia and increasing the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. 
The objective of the program is to increase Italian civil society’s awareness by providing access to new capacity development and discoveries that will counter Afrophobia and increase the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Italy. Successful advocacy, research, and inclusion program development and delivery must include all affected parties and be based on real dialogue and cooperation between government agents and local community members. Achieving this goal will require bottom-up, culturally appropriate, local engagement, rather than short term, top-down, centrally designed, and imposed models. Through the Indigenous Advocacy and Research Program, research Fellow will have the opportunity to broaden their perspective of human rights and freedom by exploring methodologies of impact and effectiveness.
For almost a decade, the ‘migrant crisis’ of southern Europe has caused much tension and violence across the Mediterranean, and more specifically — in Italy, against immigrants and EU Citizens with origins from Sub-Saharan Africa. These targeted communities are often very vulnerable to social and political abuse, and have weaker access to legal support systems.
Too often, the relationship between African communities and the Western world is characterized by inertia: the same old, paternalistic policies and the corresponding apathy and neglect. Yet, the resilience of African people continues to manifest, and today, there is a universal acceptance that change is needed for future generations. The challenge is ensuring that the direction of this change is progressive and fair. The Indigenous Advocacy and Research Program can play an important role by thoroughly examining data, advocating for the rights of African peoples in Italy, and creating innovative models of change to counter Afrophobia and encourage reform.

Program Methods

The Indigenous Advocacy and Research Program will provide financial and technical resources, relevant mentoring and learning opportunities, and exposure to leadership opportunities for all Fellows and volunteers. Each Fellows will receive grants ranging from $300 – $1,000  to complete their research work-plan and community engagement development plans. Fellows will also receive a training stipend.
Once approved, each Fellow will engage in a one-week virtual training, led in-part by program partners, where through guest lectures, written work, and small working groups, the participants will begin to transition their proposals into comprehensive work-plans that will then become the foundation of their research during the remainder of the project term.
During the program term, each research Fellow will be responsible for (1) participating in a one-week training, (2) enlisting young community volunteers to assist with advocacy work according to regional work-plans, (3) conducting interviews with community leaders or key stakeholders involved in countering Afrophobia and policy reform efforts in Italy, (4) engaging in two public critiques for report reviews to reflect progress against regional work-plans and national statements for change, (5) presenting one final report highlighting research outcomes that will be included in a digital publication, (6) leading virtual community workshops with youth-led volunteer committees, and (7) participating in a webinar/public forum series with key partners, stakeholders, and community members to discuss research findings and to enhance collaboration efforts. 
As a result of this work, three regional work-plans and one national statement for change will be drafted collaboratively among the research cohort and youth-led regional volunteer committees. The final outputs of the Indigenous Advocacy and Research Program will be shared online through a virtual forum and digital publication. The publication will include discussion and working papers through various forms of media. 
Although Fellows may engage in physical activity and in-person interaction for the completion of research work-plans, all programmatic outputs will be shared digitally. Web-based communication strategy and electronic publications will deliver research outputs promptly and freely to a wide audience. The Soul of Nations Foundation’s website and social media channels (Twitter and Instagram) will be the primary methods of communication and information dissemination, and will contribute significantly to widespread knowledge and impact. All research, analysis, and community resources will be released online, downloadable, and readily archived for free public access.
The target audiences for all workshops, forums, and general communications will be Italian, African, and American community members, civil society advocates, community leaders, formal and non-formal educators, and the general public — with an emphasis on youth and women. Although Fellows may engage in physical activity and in-person interaction for the completion of research work-plans, all programmatic outputs will be shared digitally.
Through galvanizing diverse and young intellectual human capital, Indigenous progressive thought can help drive Italy forward. To this end, the Indigenous Advocacy and Research Program will aim to cultivate long-term partnerships, grounded in reciprocity, to prioritize community needs; and contribute to building the capacity and expertise of representatives and mechanisms to strengthen synergies between Italian and American leadership, and the human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrant communities and the African diaspora in Italy at the local, regional, and national level.

Application Requirements

Women, men, and non-binary civil society members living in Italy will be encouraged to apply as research Fellows for the Indigenous Advocacy and Research Program. Formal education should not be a limitation to participation given the socio-economic barriers confronted by many Indigenous and African peoples that limit access to formal educational institutions. However, researchers who are undergraduate and graduate students or recent graduates with relevant work experience are highly encouraged to apply for the program. All applicants should have an adequate command of English, both written and verbal, and be 18-35 years old by the closing of the application period. All applicants should also identify with a BIPOC community.
Each applicant should represent one of the three geographic regions of Italy, which have been classified as northern, central, and southern. Northern geographic regions include: Aosta Valley, Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. Central geographic regions include: Marche, Tuscany, and Umbria, with priority given to Tuscany, and more specifically, Florence. Southern geographic regions include: AbruzzoApuliaBasilicataCampaniaCalabria, Lazio, MoliseSicily, and Sardinia.
In order to be selected as a Fellow, applicants must meet the eligibility requirements, submit an application, and develop statements of interest that address both of the following research topics:
1. Ways that civil society can best approach “loopholes” in Italian policy that can be perceived as being rooted in anti-blackness and/or policies that can be perceived as having aggressive undertones toward the migrant population in Italy at the local, regional and national level
2. Ways to leverage Italy’s transition to countering Afrophobia and increasing the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms through advocacy and outreach, and providing this information through a variety of media
Applications can be completed online or sent to apply@soulofnations.org by the deadline. 

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