“Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature's law is wrong it learned to walk without having feet. Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams, it learned to breathe fresh air. Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else ever cared.”
Since first coming together in August 2021, we’ve done a lot. Read below to learn more about the decisions we’re voting on, culture we’re creating, and how our student-led process unfolded over our first two years. You can read about our origins in this article from Pomona College Magazine.
90 Co-Founders vote on the name Rhizome and incorporate a nonprofit. We finalize our mission: to activate young people’s identities into action & help youth treat civic service as the work of a lifetime.
One of the earliest decisions we voted on was to focus on Title 1 and under-resourced high schools as we grow. Fellows make visits to elementary schools, teaching democracy to K-5 students by engaging in democratic simulations. K-5 visits are a huge success.
We clarify what it means to be "student-led": Organizers vote on our vision, goals, and changes to our work environment. Organizers also vote on nominations to the Board, and decide unified national actions. We create the framework for “Community Empowerment Events", which invite Fellows to take action around whatever ideas they are most passionate about. We build the website (for free, thanks Stephen Bourne-Brown!) and begin fundraising.
Fellows continue leading local Community Empowerment Events around the inclusive, nonviolent, and nonpartisan ideas they are most passionate about. Fellows also finish teaching democracy to K-5 students
We pause for a 6 week mental health break and engage in collective design processes to further streamline our model and make a greater impact in School Year 2023-2024. We celebrate our efforts and look ahead, as over 100 paid Youth Organizers prepare to support teams of Fellows in 26 Chapters.
The name Rhizome was decided by just one vote - democracy at it's finest!
We select our Board of Directors and start organizing. We build an outline of the Civic Service Fellowship, design our system, and start to pilot our early programming.
Teams of Civic Service Fellows build voter education drives to share paths to young people running for office, motivate others to engage in local elections, and help peers register & pre-register themselves to vote.
By August, a year after launch, we start to pay Organizers before anyone else. Upon learning they will actually be paid for their work, Organizers demand to know when Rhizome will purchase our first yacht.
Ramp up recruitment for the Civic Service Fellowship, expanding from 3 Chapters to 13 Chapters across the US. Fellows conduct surveys to understand what others in their high school care about. We receive 501(c)(3) status, Part-time Mentors start to get paid, we start fundraising to pay full time staff.
As our systems are streamlined, we expand exponentially to 125 high schools across 13 Chapters and stop recruiting to set healthy limits and protect the mental health of our Organizers. Fellows build voter education drives and help peers register themselves to vote. We raise funds to pay our full time staff person and begin hiring a 2nd person.
As part of our onboarding process, we made a shared album of songs that make us think about Rhizome. You're welcome!