Baljeet Sandhu was a 2017 Yale World Fellow, a program bringing global social impact leaders to Yale for a semester to expand their networks and learning while contributing to the Yale community. As part of her previously mentioned work on The Value of Lived Experience, Baljeet used her initial time in New Haven to meet leaders with lived experience who were tackling local issues. While these people were leading change efforts in the city, most of these leaders had little, if any, interaction with Yale. At the same time, Baljeet noticed that students she mentored were passionate about getting involved in social change projects in New Haven. She shared many conversations with staff at Dwight Hall, Yale’s Center for Public Service and Social Justice, and at the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale (CITY), posing one simple question: If Global change-makers have an opportunity to join the Yale Community, can the same not be done for New Haven community leaders with lived experience?
Onyeka Obiocha was already bridging the gap between local social change leaders and the University, having founded a local social initiative while also serving as Associate Director of the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale (Tsai CITY). Having noticed many of the same issues and opportunities upon which Baljeet was shining light, and inspired by Johns Hopkins University’s Social Innovation Lab, Onyeka launched the Neighbors in Residence (NiR) program in 2018.
NiR is a semester-long fellowship inviting community leaders who have been living and working in New Haven for a least a decade into the Yale community. The Fellows not only bring years of experience from their community leadership work but they are also leaders with lived experience of the specific social issues or injustices they’re addressing. The fellowship allows the NiRs to benefit from funding, access to Yale resources, programs, and networks, and uniquely places them in the role of social impact educators teaching Yale students about equitable, collaborative approaches to social change through their weekly office hours and contributions to Yale courses and extracurricular activities.
Visit the Neighbors in Residence contribution to the Gallery Walk or visit the program website to learn more.