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Pictured above are I Am M.O.R.E. youth co-inspirers: (l to r)  Justice English, Jeanette Mmunga and Johana Amani; and (far right) Dr. S. Renee Mitchell, Visionary Director/Founder

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ABOVE: Some participants in I Am MORE's second-annual Summer Leadership Learning Experience talked about their 2021 experiences.

ABOVE: In 2019-20, Renee and I Am M.O.R.E. received the first of two Social Emotional Learning Innovation Awards from the NoVo Foundation. Read Renee's personal and authentic journey from trauma to resiliency.

The Value of I Am M.O.R.E.

"Making Ourselves Resilient Everyday"

   I Am M.O.R.E. is a nationally award-winning nonprofit founded on the belief that EVERYONE can rise to their potential once they are inspired to see their own possibilities. I Am M.O.R.E. is an acronym and a movement; a commitment and a declaration to help youth and adults move through the world with intention and heart.

 I Am M.O.R.E. offers a counternarrative to the often deficit-based, traditional youth-development approach of adult saviorism, a form of oppression by adultism, which:

  • Undermines youth self-esteem and leadership;

  • Centers adults as the sole experts and heroes; and

  • Reduces intrinsic motivation in youth


We help young people understand that they are MORE than the worst thing that has ever happened to them. Our theory of change - "Empowered Resilience" ™    - leverages the power of personal storytelling, with critical inquiry and reflection, equity and culturally affirming, social and emotional skill building to teach young people how to deepen their learning and impact on themselves and their community. The 3-step process is:

  1. Inside -Out. Youth are taught how to be critical researchers of their own lives, through the historical lens of trauma. They will learn how to reframe their life experiences and discover their unique sense of purpose so that they can begin to walk through the world not as victims, but as heroes of their own reimagined story.

  2. Outside-Up. Building on youth participatory action research (YPAR) tools from Step One, youth will then research and analyze racial justice issues in their community and invest their wisdom into creating meaningful awareness of social justice issues.

  3. Up & Beyond. Youth will use arts and creativity to share inspiring personal stories about what they have learned about hope, healing, belonging and social-justice oriented community building.

This transformational process is what helps youth and adults move through trauma toward Empowered Resiliency.™


Here is What We Believe

We are all born to tell our stories.

It is shame and fear of not fitting in that prevents us from sharing our deepest

and authentic truths.

We all crave connection.

But, one can only get connection if someone is open to listening

with ears, eyes and  heart.

We all have experienced some form of trauma.

The question is: How did you react and deal with it?  ​How do you cope with challenges? How do you recover from grief and trauma?  Who is listening to you and encouraging you to move past it and build resiliency?

I Am M.O.R.E.

(A theme song to raise hope)

I am MORE than my actions

or what you think you see.

I am MORE than the worst thing

that ever happened to me.

Might not have known it before but now I do.

Nothing can hold me down

I rise up!

When I am facing difficulties

When I have lost touch with my own dreams

I  rise up!

When so much stress is on my mind

It seems I'm always running out of time 


I rise up!

Rise up!  Rise up!

Rise up!  Rise up!

Rise up!  Rise up!

I need you to believe that

I am MORE!

Here's How Youth Build Resiliency

  • We are freely expressing our creativity, voice and strengths.


  • We are accepted by our peers.


  • We are grounded in knowing who we are - culturally and spiritually.


  • We have access to safe spaces and self-care opportunities to have fun and just be ourselves, without judgment or fear of our safety.


  • We have a relationship with a positive adult who sees me,   believes in me and authentically cares about my well-being.

  • We are trained in social-emotional skills, which teach us how to manage our emotions, feel empathy for others and maintain relationships.

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