Church, nonprofit group join forces to encourage local changemaking

Courtesy of Lisa Conover
A group of Ashoka fellows gather at Los Altos United Methodist Church. The church has entered into a 10-month partnership with the global nonprofit Ashoka to explore changemaking.

Los Altos United Methodist Church and the global nonprofit Ashoka entered into a 10-month partnership dubbed the Changemaker Initiative, a collaboration designed to explore how faith and social innovation can amplify each other.

As part of the initiative, 26 fellows ranging in age from 11 to 74 were selected to lead projects in areas where they are passionate and driven to make a change. Each project falls in one of four categories: Families, Church, Community and School/Workplace. The Changemaker Fellows will address a broad spectrum of issues, including mental health, foster care, technology addiction, education and employment, gun safety, human trafficking, affordable housing, veterans, homelessness and redefining church in the community.

The initiative kicked off in April with an Ashoka-led information session attended by more than 240 people. Since then, the fellows participated in a workshop with Ashoka focusing on changemaking and tools to develop their projects. The fellows will continue to receive mentoring from Ashoka and support from each other throughout the next several months as they build partnerships and teams, pilot their ideas and iterate their projects to find the greatest impact.

The Rev. Kathi McShane, senior pastor at Los Altos United Methodist Church, brought the partnership to fruition.

“We are pioneering a new kind of church – connecting the path of following Jesus with the skills of social innovation, empowering all people, young and old, to make an impact as compassion-driven changemakers,” she said.

Ashoka aims to promote social entrepreneurs in making change. The partnership with Los Altos United Methodist Church is its first faith-based partnership.Ashoka brings the experience, the mentoring and the belief that four key skills are needed for functioning in the world today and in the future: teamwork, leadership, creative problem-solving and empathy.

The church’s goals with the initiative are to deepen members’ commitment to their faith, activate social change and build strong relationships and partnerships across the community.

The Changemaker Initiative has woven its way through the church as members support the fellows and projects by providing their ideas and skills. In addition, many organizations across the Los Altos and Mountain View communities have offered resources and support.

Children and changemaking

Los Altos United Methodist Church and Ashoka have scheduled a 90-minute workshop, “Your Kids Can Thrive in a Fast-Changing World,” 6:30-8:30 p.m. Aug. 24 in the church’s Creekside Center, 655 Magdalena Ave.

The workshop will address the importance of youth and changemaking, and explore the tools and skills needed to adapt and thrive in a changing world.

Appetizers will be served at 6 p.m.

Child care will be provided.

To register for the workshop and child care, visit

For more information on the initiative, visit the

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