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3700 La Hacienda Drive NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110
Grant Received County Amount
Outdoor Equity Fund 2021 Bernalillo County $20,000
Outdoor Equity Fund 2023 Bernalillo County $40,000
Outdoor Marketing Grant 2024 Luna County $30,000
Outdoor Equity Fund 2022 Bernalillo County $20,000
Total Grants Awarded $110,000

The Semilla Project is a Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)-led transformation center preparing a strong generation of BIPOC youth leaders through land-based outdoors learning, leadership development, and civic engagement. Based in New Mexico, our mission is to grow leadership skills and build a strong foundation for BIPOC individuals to support long-term, tangible, place-based, and sustainable solutions that advance climate equity for the health and wellbeing of our communities. The Semilla Project was formally established in 2021 by Eli Cuna, a proud Mexican immigrant who previously co-founded the New Mexico Dream Team and was the National Field Director of United We Dream. In her experience with organizing, Eli experienced the structural harm of traditional activist movements that feed off struggle and emphasize disconnection and scale. This perpetuates ongoing trauma for BIPOC youth, who are already on the frontlines of racism, misogyny, dispossession, and displacement. Eli founded TSP so that her lived experience as a youth organizer could be a seed of radical healing for emerging BIPOC leaders (“semilla” means seed). Our core programs build and sustain leadership while supporting healing and personal leadership development for BIPOC individuals and communities: SemiYA! Youth Activation engages youth in hiking, climbing, mountaineering, and rafting excursions across New Mexico using a land-based, anti-racist curricula on climate change as well as socioemotional grounding practices that promote wellness and connect BIPOC youth to identity, culture, and each other. Re/Generation, a cross-organizational coalition, prepares youth leaders to tackle racial and climate justice issues, shift the public narrative to center BIPOC communities, and accelerates the movement towards a sustainable economy. Cosecha Forward, a mentorship program, connects BIPOC professionals with BIPOC youth. Agents of Change, a youth development program, educates youth on how to advocate for issues directly impacting their communities, public lands, and wellbeing. Roots, a seven-week youth internship, addresses the critical role of relational organizing and civic engagement. BIPOC youth develop skills in strategic planning, organizing leadership, fundraising, media, and canvassing. In our first three years, The Semilla Project has: Obtained 501(c)(3) designation (were fiscally sponsored by NM Community Capital until 2023); Developed a full-fledged curriculum for engaging BIPOC youth with the outdoors that includes leadership development, outdoor skills development, and education on climate and conservation; Grown from a pilot program to creating equitable access to the outdoors for more than 750 BIPOC youth per year while laying a foundation for activism, influence, and action on climate change and racial justice; Formed partnerships with over 20 community-based organizations and schools who regularly refer/recruit youth to us and support the development of culturally relevant programming; Retained more than 80% of SemiYA! participants (defined as attending three or more events), growing in their outdoor competencies, wellness, and leadership roles as they are increasingly activated to organize around climate justice; and Amplified youth voices around the bills SB9 and HB4, enacted to create the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund and to enshrine voting rights in New Mexico.