Co-Founder/ Executive Director
Fanon Hill is no stranger to community service through strategically engaged activism. Recognizing a need for youth cultural organizing in Baltimore City to confront the issues surrounding isolated community and youth programming that could not sufficiently address issues of violence, generational trauma, inadequate educational attainment and unemployment, he sought to create a movement, a way of life that could effectively and permanently create change for children, youth and young adults. As co-founder of the Youth Resiliency Institute, Hill provides community-centric programming to vulnerable populations through a performance and creative arts-based rites of passage process that has at it core the ideals of collective responsibility, artivism and philanthropy that will lead to civically engaged intergenerational teams of community-based advocates working to form a healthier and stronger Baltimore.
Hill continues to organize and strategize for community and youth equality in Baltimore City and throughout the country. He is a trainer for the National Rites of Passage Institute, has served as an advisor for the Tony award-winning musical Fela!, and for various Baltimore-based organizations. Equally significant, Hill’s work has been featured in the Justice Policy Institute’s Bearing Witness Report, the national newspaper, Youth Today and a 2010 documentary funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, which highlights the role of rites of passage in urban communities. Hill has been featured on the nationally syndicated Michael Eric Dyson radio show, published by the National College Board, and has received a Congressional Citation from the U.S. House of Representatives for his work as a cultural organizer dedicated to the application of Resilience Theory in Baltimore’s most disinvested communities. Hill is a Case Western Reserve University Treu-Mart Fellow.
In 2011, Hill successfully launched and executed The Black Male Identity (BMI) project, which used the arts to create more positive imagery, ideas, and narratives around black boys and men who are barraged with negative stereotypes. At its core, the goal was to foster dialogue both inside and outside the black community that will expand horizons. Through art, BMI provided an opportunity for black males, and those extending love and support, to develop images, narratives, and video offering a diverse vision of positive black male identity functioning as a resource for others. During the year, more than 200 participants created art during the summer art workshops held at various community locations, while more than 1000 Baltimore City Public School and Independent School students engaged in BMI art making projects.
In addition, Hill has served as a consultant for The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Heinz Endowments (NROPI), Robert W. Deutsch Foundation and a multitude of organizations and agencies throughout the United States and Canada.
Hill is also writing a forthcoming book titled, The Autobiography of 1001 Baltimore City Youth: Organizing With Black Youth in the Valley of Dry Bones
Co- Founder/ Director of the Healing and Performing Arts
Navasha Daya is a singer, songwriter, producer, musician, performing arts curator, certified healer, and spiritual and cultural arts activist who from childhood was inspired and encouraged to use her voice and talents for upliftment and change. A Baltimore transplant by way of Cleveland, Ohio, Navasha Daya is a professional performing and recording artist who has over the past 15 years been one of the foremothers of the underground/ indie soul music movement. For the past decade, Navasha served as lead vocalist, songwriter and co-founder of the highly acclaimed soul – jazz band, Fertile Ground. 4LPs, international tours and thousands of performances later, Navasha has composed and released her debut solo project in 2012.
As an arts educator and cultural arts activist, Navasha has taught voice and music to elementary, middle, and highschool school age youth for over 12 years, integrating character development, multiculturalism, and musicianship skills in her classes. Steadfast in her dedication to the upliftment of the community, she along with educator/musician/organizer Fanon Hill and youth mentees Rashard Willliams and Cherdaya Allen, co-founded the Baltimore City Youth Resiliency Institute (BCYRI), now the Youth Resiliency Institute (YRI).
Navasha is from a lineage of women who assist and teach women and the community. It has been noted that on stage, she embodies the indigenous feminine spirit and inspires women throughout the world. She began her journey as a child provided with invaluable life skills that have allowed her to be free, self-reliant and healthy. She underwent and graduated from a formal rites of passage process as a young girl and has been trained to facilitate rites of passage processes for women and girls. As a trained, certified and committed holistic wellness practitioner, Reiki master Teacher, Spiritual Counselor and Ordained Interfatih Minister, she also established the Spiritual Arts and Science Institute, which designs and administers mental, emotional, and holistic health services, workshops, seminars, classes, mediation, private sessions, and women’s healing circles.
Rashard William’s serves Baltimore City as Co-Founder/ lead youth cultural organizer of The Youth Resiliency Institute, (YRI). Under the guidance of YRI co-founder Fanon Hill, at sixteen years of age, Rashard organized hundreds’ of community based “actions” throughout Baltimore City’s most disinvested communities. As a young black male touched by the juvenile justice system, Rashard understood that he wanted to give back. In his role as Lead youth cultural organizer he organizes children and youth, with an emphasis on those who have been touched by the criminal justice system not only in Baltimore City but through out the United States as well as internationally. Never being one to allow the apathy of adults to hinder his development and community engagement, Rashard holds adults accountable to children and youth through intergenerational programming and organizing. Rashard has presented at conferences, workshops and is also an accomplished actor. Rashard successfully satisfied his YRI community organizing Rites of Passage requirements in 2009 and also received his GED. In addition to serving within YRI, Rashard is currently enrolled in a welders certification program.
Ebony Evans serves as Youth Performance Coordinator for the Youth Resiliency Institute’s annual Youth Arts Harvest Festival. She is a member of the first graduating class of the KIPP Ujima Village Academy where she received many awards in theater, social studies, language arts and creative writing. Upon graduating from Western High School, Ebony was admitted to Coppin State University where she is majoring in urban arts theater. Ebony has always been a leader serving on both political boards and in performing arts clubs and groups. Ebony is very driven and dedicated and shares her talent as a singer, songwriter, actress, and poet. She enjoys serving the community, working with youth, and spreading love.