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Hong Kong is one of the most vibrant and prosperous cities in Asia. Yet it has one of the highest inequality levels in the developed world. 1 in 5 Hong Kongers lives in poverty. Many vulnerable groups persist in social exclusion generation after generation. Social exclusion is not just about material deprivation, but also about marginalization, discrimination or a lack of agency and voice in society. The United Nations defines it as “a process of improving the terms of participation in society, particularly for people who are disadvantaged, through enhancing opportunities, access to resources and respect for rights.” If underrepresented and marginalized groups do not participate in civic and social life, policies and laws will not reflect their needs and desires. In order to break the vicious cycle of disempowerment, the NGO ecosystem cannot exclusively focus on service delivery that only addresses acute livelihood needs, but also interventions focused on community empowerment.
Like every other leader, people in the social justice field with potential need encouragement, training, mentoring and inspiration. If we invest in key individuals, they have ripple effects that generate great social returns. In 2017, we launched a pilot program of our social justice fellowship on the theme of racial equality and inclusion. The 5-month program was a success. We received over 60 nominations for a little over a dozen places. We invited 30+ guest speakers and each fellow received +60 hours of training. The fellows collectively reached out to over 5,000 people in their community during the course of the program. They worked collectively on a participatory, audio visual storytelling campaign. Building on the momentum and insight from the pilot, we want to perfect the fellowship model through a second social justice cohort in 2019, developing 20 more fellows who are changemakers in the community, expanding the Resolve alumni base and build lasting ties with each other.