5 Things to Expect From Valley Leadership’s Explore Program

November 15, 2022
Leadership LessonsPrograms

Explore takes participants out of their comfort zones to get to know the great diversity of the state and how our most pressing issues show up in rural, urban, suburban and Native communities. If you are a VL Alumni with a passion for forging connections while experiencing Arizona’s many diverse communities, this program is for you. Explore Class 2 Applications are open until December 2nd! 

Keep reading to learn more about what Explore program participants can expect from their experience.

Explore Class 1, Navajo Nation

1. A new perspective on Arizona

As a member of Explore, you’ll have the chance to visit 6 different cities and learn how Arizona’s most pressing issues manifest in rural, urban, and suburban environments. Class 2 destinations include Yuma, Nogales, South Phoenix, Mesa, Buckeye, and Navajo Nation.

“The Explore program has been one if not the most impactful experience that I have had to date that has allowed for a greater understanding of the pressing issues that exist within the community around us, the similarities shared amongst sites throughout Arizona… and the distinctive issues that each face on a daily basis.” – Explore Alumni Testimonial 

– Explore Alumni Testimonial 

2. Life-long connections

Explore’s program days create connections with the communities we visit, as well as with the other participants. Participants build deep and important connections through every step of the process.The cohort is small, promoting meaningful interactions with other alumni members with a shared interest in broadening their understanding of and connection with the state.

“Not only has the program been impactful for my own perspective of the world but I was able to witness firsthand the value of networking and sharing of resources that could drastically improve the circumstances of the issues we were introduced to during each of our expeditions.”

– Explore Alumni Testimonial 

3. Immersive experiences

We believe the best way to learn is by doing. That is why Explore’s curriculum is focused on creating immersive experiences in every corner of the state. With guidance from local leaders and community partners, participants will experience 

“This was the first fully immersive experience of what real life is like in the community we visited (though it was not planned) and for that reason I LOVED it!”

– Michelle Osife (Explore & VL Institute Graduate)

4. Learning from local community leaders

Community is a key component of Explore. That’s why we have partnered with formal and informal leaders from each community we visit to co-create the Explore experience. We recognize that the best way to learn about a place is from the people who are actually doing the work and can provide insight into the unique dynamics at play in regard to culture, politics, and history.

5. An asset-based and place-based curriculum

Explore is built using an asset-based and place-based curriculum. Participants will have the opportunity to learn from numerous leaders who hold insight into the importance of focusing on the assets of a place, rather than the deficits, and how to utilize those assets to support the needs of communities throughout our state through a lens that is specific to the place where work is happening. 

“In the program… different experiences that we had and the opportunities to bond together, it really opened my eyes to my own need to reserve my thoughts and hold my thoughts so I can really be able to listen to others and be able to integrate what they are saying into my opinions without having my own opinions dominate.”

– Dani Portillo (VL Catalyze & Explore Alumni)

Looking to learn more about Explore? Watch our information session and schedule a 1-on-1 call with our Program Manager, Jen Gastelum or apply here to begin your journey with this program!