NextGen Leadership Academy (NGA) was established as a 501c3 Non Profit Corporation in 2006 as an option for second-generation Unificationists to experience a more diverse experience of faith development. NGA was founded seven years ago in Seattle , WA and expanded to a second center in Northern California in 2010.
The philosophy of NGA is based on a recognition that we are entering a new era and need a new paradigm of education to prepare for that.
The mission statement of the NGA is To Challenge and Empower the Next Generation to Create Lives of Authenticity, Abundance, and Altruism. NGA is about raising up compassionate, strong leaders who are eager to take on the responsibility of living to honor God by making this world a better place for all mankind.
The NGA motto is to Change the World Through Personal Transformation. This is based on the belief that every individual has unique, God-given value. We are all connected and by choosing to live from the love of True Parents and God, we can be their emissaries in building an ideal world of understanding and peace.
“The NGA environment is the definition of love and support. It’s given me the strength, support and love that I need to be the person I want to be for God, myself, and everyone I care about.” –Juliannah Vasquez, New York
Participants experience a wide range of learning tools, including creating an International Service project, developing workshops and lesson plans, designing activities, public speaking training with professionals in the field, relationship building with family and preparation for future marriage, fundraising as a tool for overcoming personal limitations and expanding faith in God. The underlying emphasis is on personal ownership.
“NGA give you these gigantic shoes to fill, and you grow in order to fit them.” Julia Mizutani
Each year, NGA goes overseas to various countries for about 30-40 days. This year the first-year participants of the Seattle and California branch will serve in 7 seven countries of Africa. Second-year staff members went overseas to Nepal and Korea for a service and pilgrimage journey.
A main component of the Africa and Asia International Service Project (ISP) experience is the small teams. In groups of three or four, the participants have complete ownership over the development of their vision for the project. The participants go with the directive to put together workshops and service projects for communities there. This allows them to share their truth, their hearts and vision for an ideal world with the young people of that nation. Our participants go into the country as a spark of hope and determination which often serves as a rallying point for change, even after they have returned home.
In the planning stages of the trip, the international service project coordinator (a 2nd nd yYear iIntern) communicates with national leaders, contacts, and families in the designated countries. This sets up a backbone of safety and understanding for the incoming travelers.
While living in their country, NGA participants often develop a close connection with their home- stay families. These families welcome us into their homes and treat us like family. This gives us a unique and personal perspective on what the country is really like and helps the participants expand their heart to a more global level.
This year both the Seattle and California participants converged to run the Momentum Training Series, a unique anti-bullying program designed to reawaken youth across America to lives of value and purpose. Twenty-one participants divided among 5 five small teams served hHigh sSchools and jJunior hHigh sSchools throughout Northern California.
Designed around the theme of overcoming peer pressure and addressing the issue of bullying in schools, our participants offer an intimate approach to personal development, goal-setting and overcoming obstacles in their lives. While this is making a huge difference in the lives of those served, the NGA participants experience real transformation in their own lives by making this possible for others.
NGA first-years are expected to fundraise for approximately 12 weeks of the year. It is broken down into four 3three-week fundraising campaigns spread throughout the year. In between them, the schedule is filled with intensive workshops, overseas service, as well as planning for upcoming
projects. This staggered fundraising schedule allows participants to grow holistically through the different avenues of growth. Participants then become more able to understand their purpose in life and grow to become more capable in their faith and understanding of God’s heart.
Throughout the year the NGA participants get to experience a wide variety of workshops. Each one has its own unique theme and targets a specific area of growth.
One cornerstone of NGA’s teaching philosophy is the importance of experiential learning. To cement real development in a person it is not enough to throw around theoretical concepts. However, by providing environments where participants can live, feel, and truly understand what a compassionate and faithful life is, it becomes a solid reality in their heart.
In the context of growing into the loving and liberated children God intended us to be, NGA’s workshops focus on topics like building true relationships, the Divine Principle, the unique value of the individual, effective public speaking, and how to continue down the path of freedom and faith in their lives outside of NGA.
Also, the last quarter of the year is dedicated to the internal planning and logistical execution of a professional-grade program known as the NGA Summer Challenge. The participants receive guidance from their elder brothers and sisters on safety and purpose behind the program.
This is a 30- day program every summer that is completely designed by the first-year participants. It serves as a culminating project for the participants where all of the skills and perspectives they’ve gained are put to the test for the sake of others. Through it they learn to rely on one another, logistically plan a high-caliber program, and to love and mentor their younger brothers and sisters. These summer programs are a great way for young people to get a taste of adventure and feel passionate about living.
“If you want to change your life in the best way possible – doing things you have always wished you would do-and being the person you have always wished you could be – then do it (Summer Challenge).” – Krysta Howell, Maryland
This year we have 21- first- year participants and 16- second- year interns. The directors are Jeff and Satomi Adshead in Seattle and Eric and Colette Bobrycki in California..
This year we have integrated the two centers together for the major projects and fundraising.
Applications are now open for NGA Full-Year and Summer Challenge programs. Space is limited, so apply now at: nextgenacademy.com
This article was contributed by the principals of Next Gen Academy.