Vieques Youth Leadership Initiative

VYLI’s Educational Curriculum

The stories in Pan Y Vino Para El Camino are a testament to the Latino tradition of giving back. One of the most important gifts we can give our children is to read stories about those who went before them. Our children need to know about the sacrifices Cesar Chavez and others made for them, and their responsibility to give back to future generations. Who will they learn this from — if not from us? With 31 million Hispanic people in America, we can create a great future. My hope is that after reading these stories each one of you will be inspired to move beyond what you think is possible by helping each other take ownership of your lives and your futures. I can almost hear Cesar’s words: “Si se puede! Yes, we can!”

Edward James Olmos’s Introduction to Pan Y Vino Para El Camino

VYLI is the Institute’s first bi-lingual initiative using the Pan Y Vino Para El Camino educational curriculum to train young and emerging young people to become leaders of a new Vieques. Using the Institute’s curriculum, we developed a comprehensive empowerment program that prepares young and emerging leaders to build a new Vieques. The multiplier effect of VYLI’s model is to train young people to be leaders who then work with other young people. We’ve begun reversing the “brain drain” and inspiring a whole new generation who are working together to help rebuild their beautiful island.

Based on stories about the everyday heroes in the book Pan Y Vino Para El Camino, this bi-lingual literacy curriculum makes learning meaningful to multicultural students. The English curriculum for Stone Soup for the World: Life-Changing Stories of Everyday Heroes was piloted by the YMCA of the USA. It is used in 120 communities to teach young people to develop their language arts, social studies and leadership skills. It is also an award winning youth-community service program.

In 1999, actor Edward James Olmos encouraged Marianne Larned to get her book, Stone Soup for the World into Spanish to inspire Latino youth to make a better life for themselves and their communities. In 2003, they launched Pan Y Vino Para El Camino at the first Latino Book Festival in Los Angeles. At the ceremonies, Marianne presented Eddie with the Institute’s first Cesar Chavez award for carrying on the legacy of this great Latino leader. The historic Cesar Chavez U.S. Postal Stamp was also launched at the event.

Mr. Olmos is featured in the book and serves on the Institute’s International Advisory Council member. He stood with the people of Vieques. Eight months later on January 1, 2004, Ms. Larned went there, initially to finish her next book about 100 young heroes from the new millennium. When she arrived, she gave copies of Pan Y Vino Para El Camino to everyone. With no bookstores or libraries, Viequenses were hungry to read about people like them who overcome obstacles and improved their communities. When the Stone Soup Leadership Institute launched the first Summer Institute, Eddie sent a video message: “Congratulations! You have a chance to rebuild your own island. I’m proud of you..” He also sent his 28-year-old son, Bodhi and his film crew from Olmos Productions.

Mr. Olmos’ Spanish-speaking friends responded first: Institute Board members Nane Alejandrez, Barrios Unidos and Cesar Chavez, 27-year-old grandson of the great Latino leader. During our annual Summer Institutes, they worked side-by-side with the young people to share how they overcame obstacles to make their dreams come true.

Others from Pan Y Vino Para El Camino followed. They helped bring our educational curriculum to life and created the Institute’s first bilingual “global learning community.” Timberland sent 25-year-old Panamanian-American Jose Vega, then fifteen employees from Puerto Rico to create culturally sensitive-community service projects. For nearly four years, the Stone Soup Leadership Institute has been working alongside community leaders to create the Vieques Youth Leadership Initiative (VYLI). We’re inspiring a whole new generation of heroes who are working together to help rebuild their beautiful island. VYLI serves as a shining example of the Institute’s Spanish curriculum for what can be done when people work together to train and prepare its young people to build a healthy community and sustainable economy.

The Stone Soup Leadership Institute is a 501c3 global non-profit educational organization (FID#: 31-1594004, reg. in PR). Founded in 1997, the Institute is celebrating its 10th anniversary – receiving congressional letters of support and launching the VYLI’s Economic Development Report 2020. The Institute’s prestigious International Advisory Council includes: Honorary Chairman Walter Cronkite and Muhammed Yunus (2006 Nobel Peace Prize). The Institute has a history of building strategic alliances and engaging citizens to work together to rebuild their islands and their communities. Other youth based-community initiatives in Baltimore, Cincinnati and Oakland and island communities: Martha’s Vineyard, Hawaii and the Philippines. See Appendix for description of other initiative and references:

The Vieques Youth Leadership Initiative is the Institute’s demonstration project and our first bi-lingual initiative. For the last four years, we’ve built bridges with organizations, business, government, community, schools and churches to work together to build a new Vieques. The Institute conducted a community planning process and created a comprehensive empowerment process that has engaged people from business, government, community, schools, churches to work together to build a new Vieques. We’ve accomplished a lot in such of short time, with very few resources and overcoming many obstacles. The Institute has been VYLI’s largest donor.

• The Institute’s educational curriculum: Piloted the YMCA of the U.S. in 8 states in 1999.

Transforming Young Lives in 120 Communities Around the World

The Institute’s educational curriculum Stone Soup for the World: Life-Changing Stories of Everyday Heroes has been used in 120 communities to prepare the next generation of leaders to address the economic, environmental and social challenges of the 21st century.

The Institute’s curriculum was piloted by the YMCA of the U.S. in 8 states. High school and college youth used the curriculum with middle-school students to help improve reading skills, stimulate thoughtful discussions about values and engage them in doing good deeds.

If we can engage more youth in service learning through Stone Soup for the World we can eradicate the incidence of youth violence in our homes, schools, neighborhoods and our country.

Antoinette Mensah, Milwaukee YMCA

The dramatic and heartening stories in Stone Soup for the World immediately immerse readers in other cultures and countries, and engage them in the struggles of real heroes who fight battles against violence, disease and hunger within their individual lives, their communities and nations.

Global TeachNet: National Peace Corps Association and the Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development

The Institute provides technical assistance and training to organizations to use the Stone Soup for the World: Life-Changing Stories of Everyday Heroes educational curriculum to develop public/private partnerships that build healthier communities and a healthier world. In 2003, the Institute developed a strategic plan with San Francisco State University where it was recommended that the Institute develop a demonstration project. As a major demonstration project, VYLI serves as a shining example of the Institute’s model for what can be done when people work together to train and prepare its young people to build a healthy community and sustainable economy.

• 1997-2000, the Institute created a learning laboratory on Martha’s Vineyard and built community partnerships that led to a regional bus system, healthcare coalition and low-income housing village; developed Stone Soup Leadership Institute with youth, teachers, community leaders; conducted trainings for educators to use the Institute’s education curriculum in language arts, social studies, community service classes; created educational events like the 35th anniversary of Dr. King’s I Have a Dream Speech with John Lewis and President Clinton and the Celebration of Heroes with Walter Cronkite.

• In 1999, the Institute conducted a 4-month program in Cincinnati, OH including a Leadership Institute with teams of youth and community leaders from 25 different organizations. Together they built bridges and increased collaboration among diverse people of races, political, economic backgrounds that resulted in youth apprenticeship programs and youth-police partnerships.

• Fall 2003: The Institute conducted a 4 month program in Oakland for high school students to meet and learn from local hero, Ray Gatchalian from Stone Soup for the World. Students interviewed local heroes and wrote stories for language arts classes and produced the award-winning video, Oakland: In Search of Heroes.

This program radically changed these inner-city youth’s ideas of what it means to be a hero. The Institute developed Oakland Celebration of Heroes Awards Ceremony honoring young people for doing good deeds in their community. Every TV station in the SF/Bay Area covered the event, giving Oakland’s youth an opportunity to be proud of their accomplishments. Thanks to the media recognition, one student received $100,000 towards his college education.

• Spring 2004: the Institute’s partnered with IAM Program at University of California Berkeley. The Institute trained college students to use the educational curriculum to tutor and mentor 6-7th graders to improve their reading skills. Each month, we brought these inspiring stories to life with young leaders: African Americans, Asians, Latinos and Middle Easterners. By sharing their personal stories, they infused Oakland’s youth with a passion for learning and ignited their heroic spirits to give back to their community. The highlight of the program was an interactive event with Cesar Chavez, the grandson and namesake of the great Latino leader.

The Institute’s curriculum is a tool for Volunteer Centers who want to inspire, train, motivate and retain their volunteers. It’s especially helpful for Volunteer Centers who want to engage teens and contribute to the exciting field of service learning.

Volunteer Centers Using the Institute’s Educational Curriculum include:

• Metro Volunteers! – Denver, CO

• Volunteer Centers in St. Louis, MO

• Volunteer Center of Greater Orange County, CA

• Montgomery County Volunteer & Community Service Center – Rockville, M