Grassroots groups and movements are paving the way towards social, economic, political, and environmental justice around the world. However, they often lack recognition and access to adequate financial and non-financial resources to work and secure their mental and financial wellbeing.
While there is a growing acknowledgement of the key and irreplaceable role of grassroots organising, the broader community of civil society donors and allies, at national and international levels, is far from prioritising funding, resources and meaningful support for this work. The COVID-19 crisis response made it more evident that many donors seem trapped in risk-averse, technocratic, post-colonial and mostly inefficient traditional development aid frameworks that ignore or underestimate the power of locally-driven civic action.
Over the last three years, CIVICUS has increased efforts to better understand the resourcing realities and needs of grassroots groups, especially in the Global South, and to advocate for shifts in the ways resources for civil society are assigned and delivered. We want to promote a world where grassroots organising is recognised and valued and where diverse grassroots activists can access and mobilise more and better resources to be resilient and sustain their crucial work in the long term.
To continue and improve these efforts, we are bringing on board a diverse group of talented grassroots activists! Christina, Dahlia, Naro, Nawa and Samuel are the members of this new team, who were selected amongst 2000 incredible activists who applied for this role.
The group is called Grassroots Changemakers and their vision is to promote spaces where grassroots organising and resourcing realties are recreated for hope and empowerment. They will help us co-create and amplify a storytelling campaign and an influencing strategy to increase the recognition of grassroots activists and engage the donor community and other key actors in shifting more power and resources to grassroots activism.
We firmly believe that grassroots activists should own their narrative and be in the driving seat, identifying solutions to their resourcing needs. We look forward to developing the campaign with this team and engaging more grassroots activists in the process. Stay tuned for updates.
Meet the Grassroots Changemakers team!
This team is eager to engage more activists in this global conversation about grassroots resourcing realities and to invite them to skill sharing sessions and other activities to promote collective empowerment. If you have ideas, comments or suggestions for the group or just want to connect with them, please email them at
"In my culture, where respect for the elderly and community cohesion are essential, we do not rebel, even less if you are a young person or a woman. Therefore, there is currently no law that protects activists in Madagascar. I want to change that, and I will devote this year to making sure our fights are valued.” - Marie Christina Kolo, Indian Ocean Climate Network
Marie Christina Kolo, 32 years old, is a climate activist, ecofeminist and social entrepreneur from Madagascar. Christina has over 10 years of experience in youth empowerment and NGO project management in France, India, Senegal, China and Madagascar. She is the founder of the social business Green N Kool, and co-founder of the Indian Ocean Climate Network, a youth network that promotes and encourages youth initiatives regarding climate change mostly in the Western Indian Ocean Islands. Christina is a young researcher on gender issues and climate change, and leads the national platform Ecofeminism Madagascar and also supports the LGBTQI+ community as an active member of Divers' Unite association in Madagascar.Learn more about Christina’s grassroots group, Indian Ocean Climate Network, and contact her through Instagram.
"It is urgent to dignify the work of grassroots activists. Changing the world and promoting social justice should not be done at the cost of the precariousness of the livelihoods, physical and mental health of those who make the world more livable, and should not cause their persecution, imprisonment or even death. My goal is to promote the conditions needed for activists to thrive." - Dahlia de la Cerda, Morras Help Morras
Dahlia de la Cerda was born in the city of Aguascalientes, Mexico. She has a major in Philosophy and has been a fellow of several programs promoting artistic creation, focusing on research and narrative projects on gender, class and race-related deaths and killings of women in Mexico; also about women in prison and female criminality from the perspective of intersectional feminism and in the context of the war on drugs. Dahlia is a co-director of the feminist collective Morras Help Morras (Girls Help Girls), which supports female sexual, reproductive, economic and political emancipation in the peripheries.
“Social change is energy that comes from activists’ care transformed from the care they themselves receive. I want to shed light on the need to prioritize the wellbeing of activists because theirs is the wellbeing of nations. This well-being includes financial health, which means freedom from experiences of impoverishment and lack of resources.” - Naro Alonzo, KERI: Caring for Activists
Naro Alonzo is a human rights activist, poet, and psychotherapist-in-training. They provide social justice-informed and LGBTQI+ affirmative mental health and psychosocial support to fellow activists, advocates, and vulnerable communities as part of diverse civil society or community-based organisations in the Philippines, including KERI: Caring for Activists, Project Pagsibol, Magtaram Children’s Rehabilitation Center, UP Psycserv and UP Pahinungod, among others. They also help in building self and community care resilient systems for activist organisations from conflict areas around the world. They are committed to the philosophy that the wellbeing of activists is also the wellbeing of the nation, with the mission of supporting lifelong activism and intergenerational wellness.
Learn more about Naro’s grassroots group and contact them: KERI: Caring for Activists
"A youth political takeover is waiting to happen, but it cannot happen automatically. We must ask ourselves if we are doing something to start the revolution that is needed to change the lives of our people for the better? Being part of this grassroots co-creation team is my contribution towards ensuring that grassroots activists who will drive the youth revolution are well equipped, capacitated, and resourced to turn on the engine of change.” - Nawa Villy Sitali, Youth4Parliament
Nawa Villy Sitali is a co-founder of Youth4Parliament, a grassroots movement In Zambia that seeks to increase the participation of young people in civic spaces and to increase the representation of young people in elective positions with a focus on the parliamentary level. He is a vibrant youth activist and advocates for equal access to social, political and economic rights and opportunities for young people and women in society and fights all forms of inequalities. Nawa is a trainer and facilitator at Africa Unite, a Pan African activist that organizes with Solidarity Campaign and Fight Inequality Zambia.
"Throughout this campaign, I want to use my creative and inspirational power to advocate for the advancement of democratic civic space, respect for human rights, nonviolence and inclusion of marginalized groups in social, economic, and political programs in South Sudan. I believe this group will be able to show the power of supporting grassroots organising around the world." -Samuel Sebit Emmanuel, Talent Initiative for Development
Samuel Sebit Emmanuel, known as Samse Sam, is passionate about utilizing the power of creative arts to advocate for social justice and inclusion of marginalised communities in social, economic and political spaces. Samuel founded the Talent Initiative for Development (TIDE), an organisation in South Sudan that uses creative arts to empower youth and support peacebuilding, human rights, democratic governance, civic campaigns, leadership, entrepreneurship and other critical areas. He holds a diploma in public administration and management and has over six years of experience working in media and national and international civil society organisations. Currently, Samuel is a KAS scholar pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Democracy and Development Studies at Uganda Martyrs University. He is also a program assistant at the Centre for Democracy and Development (CEDED) and helps organize the leadership incubation laboratory for youth at the Community Empowerment for Rehabilitation and Development (CEFoRD).
Learn more about Samuel’s grassroots group: Talent Initiative for Development-TIDE and contact him at and
Almost 2000 #activists applied to join the upcoming #grassroots co-creation group/campaign?. Thank you all so much!?— CIVICUS (@CIVICUSalliance) January 13, 2021
We are very impressed & inspired by your incredible work. Grassroots activists are true changemakers ?
?? The 5 selected activists will be announced soon! pic.twitter.com/FYPe8eZoMR
?Great opportunity: We're looking for 5 passionate grassroots activists to join a group that will co-create & implement a campaign to advocate for improved resourcing practices for grassroots activism throughout 2021.— CIVICUS (@CIVICUSalliance) November 12, 2020
➡️Information & application form: https://t.co/n79o1Ucr81 pic.twitter.com/8CPnH45Zde