SEEDS OF FIRE: Intergenerational Organizing

Seeds of Fire (SOF) is a program at Highlander that works to be a container for intergenerational organizing. SOF brings together Southern and Appalachian youth-led and youth centered groups and individuals organizing for social justice and change. SOF focuses on the importance of having youth (ages 15-26 years old) co-train and co-educate their communities and each other, while working closely with our elders in movement. We know youth have the power to catalyze systemic change across the board and we want to facilitate space for them to learn from and teach our movement elders, as our conditions continue to shift in the Global South. Seeds of Fire promotes youth-centered and youth-led spaces that intentionally focus on relationship-building amongst youth communities and our elders in movement. Our programs help our youth by providing guidance, mentorship, political education and skill-based trainings. These trainings give room for young people to take the resources they need, with supports across generations, to learn from then past and build towards a just future.
We’re excited to be working with our Advisory Committee in guiding each year’s programming. The Advisory Committee (AC) is a group of young folks that help direct our program and build a youth network where folks can share their knowledge and learn skills as youth organizers. The AC will also be stewards of the Seeds of Fire Fund and participate in Highlander’s Homecoming, during the fall season. We are excited to be implementing intergenerational programming, with the help of our youth, for the year of 2024! We invite you to join us in scheming as we create the future we’ve been imagining.
If you have questions or seek more information, please email Rosemery Paz ( or Teddy Lee (

2024 Seeds of Fire Advisory Committee and the Youth Fellowship


During May to September 2024, Seeds of Fire (SOF) will bring together an Advisory Committee of up to 5 youth (ages 15-26) to engage in the creation and implementation of a Participatory Action Research (PAR) process focused on existing and non-existing communal care systems, as an alternative to carceral systems.

This is a 5 month commitment to youth leadership development, researching & analyzing already existing communal care systems, and finding the gaps where we can create these systems. Each Advisory Committee member will work together toward a goal of creating *at least* 1 communal care system as an alternative to carceral systems. Advisory Committee members receive a total of $10,000 in educational stipends administered in two payments for their time as a Committee member.

Advisory Committee members will utilize Seeds of Fire’s podcast as the vehicle for participatory research methods.

Advisory Committee members will facilitate 1 workshop a month with the Seeds of Fire Fellowship. These workshops will reflect the work we are doing around PAR and each workshop will have a focus on one of Highlander’s six methodologies.  

Being part of Seeds of Fire’s Advisory Committee will provide opportunities for each member to acquire a variety of skills, which include but are not limited to:

  • Participatory Action Research
  • Facilitation and Workshop training skills
  • Political Study & Education
  • Team-building
  • Project management
  • Logistics and operation support
  • Popular Education
  • Organizing and action planning
  • Programmatic Evaluation


Areas of Work

  • Participatory Action Research (PAR)
    • Committee members will be responsible for following a PAR process focused on researching existing and non-existing communal care systems as alternatives to carceral systems. Committee members will work together to create and maintain their roles in the PAR process in order to achieve a goal of creating 1 non-existing communal care system together. 


  • Seeds of Fire’s Podcast
    • Committee members will be responsible for creating podcast episodes, using the POP model. This will allow the podcast to serve as a vehicle for participatory action research methods. These methods may include but are not limited to: interviews, meetings, surveys, conversations, poetry, storytelling, online resources, collaborations with research librarians, and interviews with public officials.


  • Seeds of Fire Fellowship 
    • Advisory Committee members will be responsible for facilitating 1 workshop per month with the new members of Seeds of Fire’s Fellowship. These workshops will be focused on the PAR work the AC members are doing, with each workshop being based on one of Highlander’s 5 remaining methodologies: Popular Education, Cultural Organizing, Language Justice, Intergenerational Organizing, and/or Land, Legacy, & Place. 


  • Homecoming
    • The Advisory Committee will be responsible for developing and executing a Youth Track as part of Highlanders 2024 Homecoming, at which, with the support of the other SOF participants and staff, Youth will have the opportunity to facilitate or co-facilitate workshops around Highlander’s methodologies and/or the work they’ve done during SOF’s programming, engage with Highlander’s other programs & their workshops, knowledge and techniques to further their work.

For May to September 2024, Seeds of Fire (SOF) will have a fellowship specifically for youth across the South, with a strong focus on youth in East Tennessee, occupied Cherokee and Yuchi lands, of up to 5 individuals.

Fellows will participate in SOF’s Strong Foundations curriculum, which will support young people in learning about their communities, how to organize their communities, and how to build their own solutions to the problems they see around them.

Fellows will also participate in The Greenhouse 101, a Healing Justice curriculum brought to SOF by Teddy, alongside the Strong Foundations curriculum. The Healing Justice curriculum will walk fellows through different methods for moving emotions, sustainability in organizing work, and more.

Each Youth Fellow will receive a $5,000 educational stipend at the completion of their time as a fellow. This is a 20 week (around 5 months) commitment over the summer to participate in two virtual-based educational curricula and an opportunity for project development at the end of the program.

Being part of Highlander’s Seeds of Fire East TN Youth Fellows program will provide opportunities for each member to acquire a variety of skills, which include but are not limited to:

  • Community mapping and assessment
  • Political Study on oppression
  • Mentorship practices
  • Project management
  • Logistics and operation support
  • Popular Education Pedagogy
  • Organizing and action planning 
  • Healing Justice
  • Herbalism


Components of the Fellowship

Individuals accepted into the SOF East Tennessee Youth Fellowship will be responsible for the following areas of work:

  • Completing Educational Curriculum
    • Fellows will be responsible for completing SOF’s online organizing courses (Strong Foundations & The Greenhouse). The material consists of 20 weeks of materials to read/review/listen to and a weekly reflection/assignment. Along with these responsibilities, the fellows will be responsible for engaging with the other fellows regularly about the content through reflections and calls. We will also have monthly calls where the Fellowship and the AC will come together.

  • Visit Highlander (POTENTIALLY)
    • With COVID-19 still affecting many of our loved ones, Highlander is being cautious about receiving visitors. Depending on how the next few months go, there might be the possibility of taking a trip together to Highlander to spend the day. This is not a guarantee and depends completely on how the virus develops and the risks posed to gathering in-person. 


  • Project Proposals
    • Fellows will have the opportunity during the program to submit a project proposal for review to receive funding. Fellows will take what they have learned during the course and identify a need or issue in their community, then propose a project or campaign to address it. Fellows will receive support on project development and feedback from SOF staff throughout the program. 


  • Additional Opportunity: Homecoming
    • The Fellows will have the opportunity to be part of Highlanders 2024 Homecoming, an event where people come together to talk about social change and their work. With the support of the other SOF participants and staff, Youth will have the opportunity to share their organizing efforts, provide progress updates on their work, and teach each other skills, knowledge and techniques to further their work.

Seeds of Fire Program Components

SOF Centers:

  • Popular/Political Education and Analysis

We believe that political education and analysis, through the lens of popular education, creates lifelong leaders and change makers who are able to critically examine issues while making connections between our work locally, regionally, nationally and transnationally.

  • Intergenerational Organizing and Mentorship

The program often consists of youth and allies of different ages coming together for intergenerational programming. The allyship will involve adults supporting and challenging each other, while exploring how to best foster youth leadership and effective organizing.

  • Skills, Tools and Strategy Building

Through popular education, participants will experience 3-way learning practices where they will become both educators and learners of collective knowledge, learning and teaching new tools, techniques and strategies that have made organizing successful. Using research, theater, games, art, music, history and collective wisdom, participants will get to generate new visions for the world they are trying to build.

  • Transnational Struggles

In order to struggle and effectively envision a future for liberation, we will explore movements and organizing efforts happening across the world, often pulling from ancestral knowledge and wisdom.


    • Develop leaders and organizers with social and political analysis that are dismantling and uprooting State-sanctioned violence, challenging economic and governance systems and working for alternatives
    • Build resources for youth work in the region
    • Develop a participatory budgeting process for the Seeds of Fire fund that is funded by community members
    • Prepare young people to be part of organizations and assume leadership positions across the South
    • Achieve clear policy changes in schools, local communities and at all levels of government that are needed to shift harmful public school practices and end the criminalization of young people of color and immigrants


For 18 years, Highlander’s Seeds of Fire (SOF) program has impacted and connected thousands of young people (ages 13 – 17) and their allies (ages 18 and up), bringing together emerging and experienced grassroots organizers and community leaders to build collective power and influence critical shifts in policy decisions and practice. We host, support and network intergenerational organizers from across the South to share their social justice work and to learn about Highlander’s methodologies. Together, they discuss the different issues in their communities, strategies to address these challenges and build relationships throughout their local community and the region.

The Seeds of Fire program has included the SOF camp, mini-camps, the Living Legacy Tour, SOF Advisory Committee, Greensboro Justice Fellows, Stay Together Appalachian Youth (STAY), and Supporting Emerging Appalachian Leaders (SEAL), as well as local internships. Now we host fellowships, cohorts, networks, as well as working individually with youth and their organizations!