2016 NYC Empowerment Workshop Series – Frequently Asked Questions



Q: Who should apply for the Empowerment Workshop Series?

A: The NYC Empowerment Workshop Series (EWS) is for 14-16 cis and transgender women of color, and gender non-conforming people of color who are ready to make a deep commitment to becoming increasingly powerful and effective social justice leaders by linking personal, interpersonal and social transformation. In particular, we invite Executive Directors and staff in senior leadership positions to apply.

This initiative is a partnership between Standing in Our Power (SiOP) and several funders who form the NYC Capacity Building Funders Collaborative, including: New York Women’s Foundation, Scherman Foundation, North Star Fund, New York Foundation, Daphne Foundation, Korean American Community Foundation, Mertz Gilmore Foundation and Stonewall Community Foundation. Grantees of these funders will be invited to apply.

If you are interested in applying, please make sure that you can attend the 2-day retreat in Millerton, New York (2 hours outside of NYC), May 20-21, as well as the 4 half-day sessions (June 10, July 8, July 29, August 12). You will be asked to arrive at the retreat center on Thursday, May 19 by 6pm for an opening dinner.  Please also consider if you have the capacity to dedicate at least 1 hour per week for the 4-month initiative to take part in peer-coaching and other follow-up activities.

We are especially looking for participants who are looking for an experience that is different from traditional leadership development programs. Additionally, we are looking for participants who have done some of your own personal work and ready to engage at a deeper level in your own life and leadership transformation, and who are interested in exploring the connection of spirituality and social justice.


Q: What is the retreat? Where and when does it take place?

A: The 4-month EWS begins with a two-day retreat designed to build a strong community by fostering trusting relationships among participants and centering wellness and transformation. The retreat will include large and small group work, skills  strategies sharing, one-on-one support, physical movement, arts and recreational activities, and more.

The retreat kicks-off with a dinner at 6pm on Thursday, May 19 and goes through 5pm on Saturday, May 21. It will be held at The Watershed Center in Millerton, NY (2 hours outside of NYC).

The Watershed Center is a retreat and resource center for changemakers. They offer seminars, workshops, consulting and organizational retreats designed to help people align their lives with their own deepest sense of purpose, to strengthen the creative capacity of organizations and to facilitate strategic conversations in service of democracy, ecology and liberation.  The center is located on a 73-acre farm adjacent to hundreds of acres of state forest, two-hours north of NYC. With 19th century farmhouses, post-and-beam barns, a 30-foot yurt, swim lake, hiking trails, waterfalls and a beautiful organic farm, the center provides a bucolic setting for visionary thinking. Central to their mission is making sure that guests feel deeply nourished. Their farm fresh meals and homey accommodations allow participants to relax and deepen into their learning experience.


Q: What can I expect after the retreat?

A: After the retreat, participants will continue their learning during 4 half-day empowerment workshop sessions.  You will also be paired with another participant and be supported to provide peer coaching to each other over the 4-month period. If you chose to continue that relationship after the EWS, we encourage and support you to do so.  You will also receive one complimentary coaching session from one of the EWS facilitators during the 4-month EWS.


Q: Is childcare provided?

A: If you need childcare, please let us know in your RSVP form, once accepted. We will work with you to make sure your needs are met and that you can participate fully and have your child(ren) cared for.


Q: I cannot attend the retreat or one of the workshops. Can I still apply?

A: Unfortunately, no. Attendance at the retreat and all workshops is mandatory. If you cannot attend this year, we encourage you to apply next year.


Q: What is the cost of the EWS and what expenses are included?

A: The EWS is funded by the NYC Capacity Building Funders Collaborative as this is part of their capacity building offerings to their grantees.  You will likely incur some /transportation expenses, but everything else (materials, facilitation, lodging, meals) are covered. If you need support with transportation costs, please let us know in your application.


Q: Why do you need so much information about my identity in the application?

A: We are asking for quite a bit of information about your identity because a key goal is to ensure diversity across generation, race, ethnicity, geography, class, sexuality, gender identity, dis/ability and more. We ask that you provide as much information that you are comfortable sharing. Our selection process is primarily based on having a truly diverse group of women at the gathering.




Q: Why does SiOP bridge spirituality and wellness with social justice?

A: At SiOP we believe that our commitment to social justice comes from a place deep within that never forgets our ‘her-story.’ We embrace Sankofa, an Akan word that means, “We must go back and reclaim our past so we can move forward; so we understand why and how we came to be who we are today.”

By reconnecting to our spirituality and being heart-centered, we are reclaiming something inherently within us, passed down to us by our ancestors, lost due to years of oppression and cultural genocide. Reclaiming our cultural assets and the tools of our ancestors, we believe we can recreate our sacred spaces within us and around us. We seek to integrate spirituality into our lives in order to contextualize our oppression within a social framework and operate from an authentic empowered self.

Through the EWS, we will tap into our spirit center and gain tools to cope with and resist the racism, sexism, classism, ageism, heterosexism, ableism, heterosexism, transphobia etc. that we encounter everyday and begin to connect the effects of these multiple forms of violence and oppression on our lives to a larger political, social and economic context as women of color working for social justice, particularly in the struggle against state violence. More importantly, we will make the connection that the feelings of powerlessness and fear (internalized oppression) that we have are a direct result of our stories of abuse, trauma and neglect. Collectively, and by engaging in our own empowerment, we replace what is not working in our lives with positive, life affirming ways of living & being and share tools to end the cycle of self destruction and to open the door to internal transformation and community change.


Q: Why do you focus on developing practice?

A: Knowing and having a vision is one thing, practice is another. Practice is what grounds wisdom into our bodies, our minds, our work and our lives. In order to live into a new vision for ourselves, our communities and our world, we realize that it is essential for us to support women of color to embody several core competencies that align with our vision. Embodiment comes through regular practice.


Q: How will you select participants and what is the timeline?

A: Applications will be reviewed by SiOP facilitators and a small working group of funders from the collaborative.  We will prioritize building a diverse group of 14-16 participants who demonstrate a level of readiness for this sort of leadership development and capacity to follow-through.  This is our timeline:

  • April 14 – Applications due
  • April 25 – All applicants are notified if the accepted, declined or on a waiting list
  • April 27 – May 6 – One-on-one pre-interviews with participants


Q: Who is organizing this EWS?

A: This initiative is a partnership between Standing in Our Power (SiOP) and several funders who form the NYC Capacity Building Funders Collaborative, including: New York Women’s Foundation, Scherman Foundation, North Star Fund, New York Foundation, Daphne Foundation, Korean American Community Foundation, Mertz Gilmore Foundation and Stonewall Community Foundation.

SiOP is a program of Spirit in Action, a national movement building organization that seeks to create a positive future for all. Spirit in Action builds a broad and interconnected social force committed to collectively transforming the world by working with communities to Reimagine culture, Resist domination, Reform institutions and Recreate society. Read more.

The Empowerment Workshop Series is organized by an inter-generational, diverse group of women of color.  Lead facilitators of the EWS are Diana Marie Lee, Taij Kumarie Moteelall and Yaromil Fong-Olivares.