Global Visionaries 


GV provides both in-school and after-school high school youth leadership programs as well as a teacher training program which develops teachers’ insights into instructional leadership roles and the skills and strategies to co-create democratic classrooms. GV’s after-school program consists of the first year Leadership Program (LP) and second year Youth Leadership Board (YLB). Students who graduate the first year become subject matter experts and facilitators who teach the next incoming group, thus entering the program as learners and leaving as leaders.  

By design, half of GV’s youth are white and half of color; 50% are from middle and upper-middle income families; 50% from low-income families who receive need-based scholarships. By maintaining our commitment to diversity, GV cultivates young leaders from at-risk communities, while also allowing youth to learn from others who share different experiences and perspectives. Participants engage in the challenging conversations that can divide: race, class, gender. They emerge united in appreciation of their diversity. Across the board, GV’s programs are designed to offer the tools and vehicles for youth to critically assess the status quo, unite the community, and channel their energy toward positive change.

Since 1997, GV has served over 3,600 youth globally. As a result of their participation, youth have built 24 school rooms, kitchens and community centers, planted 30,000 trees in reforestation projects (in Guatemala alone), and in 2013-2014 undertook almost 3,000 team volunteers hours (Seattle participants alone). This year, GV will serve over 630 youth. 

Mission Statement
Global Visionaries (GV) empowers young people to become global leaders in creating a just and sustainable future. Through GV’s unique three part “learn-participate-lead” approach, its participants are empowered to maximize their potential.
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Global Visionaries
2524 16th Ave S #305 
(206) 322-9448 

Christopher Fontana 
Executive Director 


Global Visionaries Programs

First-Year Leadership Program
Currently, there are 120 Leadership Program (LP) participants for the 2014-2015 school year. Participants in the LP engage in experiential learning, interpersonal investigation, and volunteer work in the greater Seattle area and abroad, including a two-week volunteer and cross-cultural-immersion experience in Guatemala where they meet up with the First-Year Guatemalan youth.  Both groups volunteer together, building schools, planting trees and assisting at a local hospital. After completing the LP, students can join the Youth Leadership Board (YLB), which allows students to expand and advance the leadership skills they developed during the LP by taking on leadership roles in their communities and in GV itself. The program has three main focuses: to give young people an opportunity to be organizational leaders; to provide a pool of peer-to-peer mentors to first-year participants; and to expand GV’s presence in the greater Seattle community by hosting trainings, workshops, and community events for non-GV participants.  

Youth Leadership Board
The YLB currently has 38 participants (two are youth in foster care, 42% are low income, and 52% are of color) who directly serve 120 first year LP participants as well as 100 Guatemalan participants. YLB members are divided into six groups depending on their interests: Board of Directors (serve as active members of the GV Board of Directors and Board Committees, and represent the youth voice on the Board), Culture and Environment (mentor LP participants in cultural awareness, global etiquette, and philanthropy), Environmental Justice (explore topics in global environmental justice and share this breadth of knowledge with the LP participants through mentorship), Immersion Leaders (mentor LP participants to prepare them for a life-changing cultural experience in Guatemala), Outreach (recruit new students to GV’s programs, strategize and implement fundraising plans, and share GV’s mission with the greater community), Pro Justice (explore topics of global social justice and facilitate social justice workshops and events).

Global Leadership Course
Global Visionaries collaborates with Facing the Future, Seattle University’s School of Education, OSPI, Seattle Public Schools, and other partners to provide an innovative, dynamic approach to high school education. GV has Global Leadership (GL) courses in two Seattle Public Schools: Chief Sealth International High School and Cleveland High School. The Seattle Board of Education has approved GL as an elective social studies class and at Chief Sealth it is an approved world history credit.

In the GL course, students experience true democracy in decision-making through weekly class meetings and a group grading system. The students and teachers follow the solution-driven Facing the Future curriculum, which challenges students to address relevant global issues. Students are able to draw from their work to teach an adopted classroom of elementary students through the “adopt-a-class” component. Through their experiences in this course, students learn they can become agents of change in their community and the world.

Recent Successes and Current Challenges

Since 2003, we have increased our impact from 30 to 630 youth directly served per year; we have increased our need-based scholarships enabling students on free and reduced price lunch programs from $1,500 to $161,000. 

Through direct experience, GV programs provide its members with skills to carry into their schools, communities, college, and careers. In particular, leadership, critical thinking, communication, community engagement, advocacy, public speaking, and self-confidence, all of which have consistently been proven necessary for graduating high school and continuing on to higher education, and leading productive, successful lives and careers.[1] This suggests that disadvantaged youth particularly benefit from participating in GV programs in preparing them for high education, fulfilling careers, and life success in the 21st century. In addition, impact evaluations show that 84% of ethnically and financially diverse GV alumni reported that they were more likely to take on a leadership position due to their experience with GV (2010 GV evaluations).

GV’s newest program, the Youth Leadership Board, has seen many successes. Since its inception in 2003, the YLB has empowered over 351 youth to become inspiring community change-makers. For example, in 2011 Molly Freed, a student at Chief Sealth International High School and former GV YLB member, organized the first-annual World Water Week at her school. It was designed to bring awareness to students, teachers, and community members about global water issues. The program involved speeches and workshops from nationally recognized water conservation experts and activists, and the week was designed to promote local conservation and global action.

Another recent success of the YLB is the YLB Film Series, “Visionary Viewings.” In 2015 the YLB launched a social documentary, fundraising film series in which each team selects and presents a film to the Seattle community. With partners including Brave New Films, the series will run from January to June at the University of Washington.

[1] “Framework for 21st Century Learning.”  


Global Visionaries (GV) empowers youth from diverse socio-economic, ethnic, racial, and geographic backgrounds to become active leaders and global citizens promoting justice.

Accessibility and Cultural Competency
Approximately 60% of Global Visionaries participants are low-income youth, and 65% are youth of color. The organization places a high priority on raising and providing scholarship funding, which is administered on a sliding scale based on family income. All students are responsible for doing fundraising activities to support the costs of program participation.

Use of Best Practices
Global Visionaries governance and program structures are youth-driven at all levels. GV encourages long-term engagement of students after the first-year program through the Youth Board, whose members educate and mentor first-year program participants by leading meetings, trainings, and workshops as well as supporting fundraising efforts and local work teams.

Global Visionaries has developed a number of strong collegial partnerships in aid of providing a rich array of experiential learning opportunities for youth. Local partners include EarthCorps, Bridges to Understanding, Youth Venture, Seattle Public Schools and Seattle Central Community College.

Grant History with The Seattle Foundation:

Grants Awarded through The Seattle Foundation Grantmaking Program:

5/11/2015 $5,000.00support the Global Visionaries/Treehouse pilot leadership development program for foster youth.
9/17/2008 $10,000.00support general operating expenses.


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