2021 was a year of clarity and recommitment to each other and to our communities...  as well as AJL's second year for participatory grantmaking. Fifteen incredible community organizers, families, youth leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, human service professionals, educators, businesspeople, community lovers and change-makers came together to identify twenty high-impact, community-driven organizations serving Colorado families and youth to each receive a $20,000 general operating support. This participatory grantmaking experience culminated in, and is best expressed through, the  artistic reflection above and below.

Why participatory grantmaking? We believe that by bringing together diverse representatives of all communities affected by our grantmaking to make funding decisions, the collective expertise and experiences of the group will lead to more effective and equitable grantmaking decisions and increased impact. 

Meet the 2021 grantmaking committee here and our 2021 grant partners here.

How does the participatory process work? Read all about it here. 

Image credit: Terah (9th grade)
Music and lyrics: Molina Speaks

"This piece, which I call 'Crowns Around the World', is inspired by my community. In my neighborhood, Aurora, Colorado District 1, you will find different skin tones, hairstyles, personalities and cultures of people In reflection of my neighborhood, friends, family and in my studies, I've learned that there are more like us around the world. Community to me, is feeling welcomed, feeling like you belong and the feeling of family." - Terah, 9th grade

WE (A Litany)
a live scribe poetic reflection by Adrian H Molina
as informed by the 2021-22 Cohort of AJL Grantees


We begin with acknowledgements, land, name & town, purpose.
Humbled and even emotional to be in communion.
We, our stories, rooted in faith, without judgement.
Laying ground rules and principles for offerings.
Affirming presence and deep listening as “success.”
The affirmation that we are still here.
This appointment: a gift.
This opportunity: to push.


We are at the beginning of economic justice work.
We are not experts, a discomfort that we accept,
A long way we have to go:
In lifting up black women entrepreneurs,
Serving older kids who are abused and homeless,
Exposing Black youth to historically Black colleges and universities,
Funding teenage media ventures so they can create their own media,
Teaching youth that their identities make them superheroes,
Helping families navigate the laws and bureaucracy that maintains inequality,
Supporting student parents to complete their educational goals,
Strengthening community and healing relations through conflict resolution,
Connecting and re-connecting youth with their land, cultures and histories,
Giving youth platforms to lead, and paying them for their work,
Supporting parents who are taking their children's education into their own hands,
Teaching youth how to work with their hands and fix bicycles,
Equipping diverse communities with the tools we need—
We will design a new reality.


We are happy and humbled to be here.
We will claim the microphone as needed and drop the mic as necessary.
We seek to thrive in ownership, presence and power.
We wish not to compete with each other for power (just give us the funds).
We believe in food justice, environmental justice, and racial justice.
We request space to grow our networks at a base level.
We seek to simplify visions and missions that heal and liberate the base level.
We will train, employ and uplift the youth.
We will nurture Black youth in civic engagement, leadership, politics, business, and philanthropy from a place of servant leadership.
We will listen to and follow the people at the root, and return back to the root.
We will humanize data.
We will love our work and program from a place of possibility.
We will seek to be accountable without punishment.
We will create safe space and embrace some chaos.
We will grow brotherhood and distribute food.
We will engage in a deep, radical and rooted way with youth.
We will listen to and learn the truth from youth.
We will ask questions when we need clarity.
We will teach youth how to build, re-build, and re-new.
We will help youth move from place-to-place sustainably.
We will show up on the terms of those who we claim to be serving.
We will check ourselves and sit in our own mess.
We will leverage our privilege and our power, whoever we are, however we find ourselves.
We will serve Latinos from a place of mind, body, spirit and creativity.
We will balance ancient and contemporary practices, to process grief in healthy ways.
We will demand space for the intersections of reality.
We will act beyond our words.
We will prioritize relationships more than computers and offices.
We will be real about the decisions we make behind the desks.
We will be intergenerational nerds who acknowledge the ways and trends of the youth.
We will remix the media that the older folks are familiar with.
We will pay our collaborators and partners well.
We will be dope humans. As good as we can be.
We will create more space for play. Time is money.
We will talk about money more.
We will get the money more.
We will focus on the long count.
We will follow the headwaters.
We will take direct responsibility for our children’s knowledge.
We will empower immigrants to fulfill their human and economic needs.
We will observe and respond to changing human and economic needs.
We will keep and preserve the colors and vibes of each community.
We will observe and respond to the specific dreams of our clients—the community.
We will run the marathon, guided by the strength of the elders who keep the fires lit. 


Other years' reflections can be seen here:

The Exchange

Writer, Performer and Engineer: TeRay Esquibel
Producer: Orion Creates
Artwork: Avery Esquibel-Valle, age 13
Inspired by the 2023 cohort of AJL Foundation Grant Partners and Grantmaking Committee
Meet our 2023 grantmaking committee and 2023 grant partners here.

It is always about the Collective

a live scribe poetic reflection by Molina Speaks
as informed by the 2022-23 Cohort of AJL Grantees
Image credit: Fannypack 
Music by DJ Icewater
Meet our 2022 grantmaking committee and 2022 grant partners here. 

Recipe for Philanthropy: A Message from AJL's 2020 Grant Partners

An Open Holiday Recipe for Philanthropy
a live scribe poetic reflection by Adrian H Molina
as informed by the 2020 Class of AJL Grantees
Video credit: Dope Mom Life
Meet our 2020 grantmaking committee and 2020 grant partners here.