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Blog Post | December 18, 2022

Collegiate Recovery Leadership Academy Kicks Off Their 2023 Journey

As our Collegiate Recovery Leadership Academy Summit comes to a close, we are excited to share what was accomplished and what is to come for this year’s leadership fellows.

A Little About the Collegiate Recovery Leadership Academy

The Collegiate Recovery Leadership Academy (CRLA) is an academic year-long fellowship program for students who are passionate about the intersection of collegiate recovery, leadership, and advocacy. With support and funding from SAFE Project, fellows implement a collegiate recovery focused impact project on their campus. SAFE Project provides students with training, skill building, and educational opportunities as they work toward their project and personal goals. Throughout the leadership academy, SAFE Project has partnered with 215 students from 126 colleges and universities since 2018.

Collectively, fellows have impacted 26,000 people and raised $185,000 in funding to benefit recovery initiatives in their communities.

The Annual Summit: A Gathering of Like-Minds

As part of the CRLA, fellows attend two in-person events: the leadership summit in November, and the recovery leadership retreat in June.

The leadership summit is a vibrant opportunity for fellows, mentors, and group leaders from across the country to learn, reflect, and organize as a community, while getting to know their cohort of peer fellows. This year’s agenda featured keynote presentations by former SAFE Project Executive Director Brandee Izquierdo, as well as Terrell Blount, a motivational speaker, mentor, and activist for prison reform and civil rights. Conference sessions were hosted by Rosi Greenberg, a leadership development trainer and coach, and Susan Packard, an American business executive and author who was a cofounder of HGTV, DIY Network, and several other Scripps Networks Interactive network channels.

Presentations addressed topics of imposter syndrome, mentorship, project funding, advocacy, leadership, and purpose. Each day of the summit opened with an optional all-recovery meeting and ended with a community event, such as the Washington, D.C. monument tour.

During the summit, fellows met their designated mentor and working group leader, who will work to support them through the fellowship year. The eight CRLA mentors come from diverse backgrounds and lived experiences with a common passion for the recovery space. The 8 working group leaders are all past CRLA fellows, who use their experience and passion to empower and guide current fellows.

What Do the Students Have to Say about the Summit?

We asked students what they learned and are taking away from the leadership summit. Here is what just a few of them had to say:

“My key takeaway from the Leadership Summit was that no matter where I have been, I can continue to grow as an individual and leader to empower others to continue the fight. I also am glad to have learned that my inner critic can become less scary by personifying it and rising above the negative thoughts that I have.”

“The biggest thing that I took away from the summit was a sense of pride and a sense of belonging. It was amazing to be around other people who have experienced a substance use disorder, who are going to do great things with their lives.”

“I was deeply impacted by the motivation, the personal stories of success, the connection and the act of learning together, sharing what we know to build our communities together. I loved Rosi Greenberg and her presentation. I loved watching the SAFE Project team work together to celebrate change. Terrell Blount is a rock star. I loved the monument tour and connecting with everyone. The weekend gave me the motivation that I needed. Meeting everyone and spending this time together provided me endless amounts of empowerment. I am forever grateful.”

What Comes Next for Our Students?

With training and support provided before, after, and throughout the summit, fellows will work to create and implement a recovery-focused impact project on their campus.

Projects have historically ranged from the creation of collegiate recovery programs to art installations. While the summit is over, fellows, mentors, group leaders, and staff will continue to meet throughout the academic year to expand skills, build community, problem solve, and gain support. Throughout the fellowship program, SAFE Campuses staff host six webinars that range in topics from policy to university structure to mental health and addiction. Additionally, fellows, working group leaders, and mentors meet monthly to check in and support each other in their efforts. Each year, the leadership academy wraps up in June with a celebratory leadership retreat.

How You Can Get Involved

Making a Donation
You can help a student complete their impact project with a donation to SAFE Project.

  • $25 will support an internship and provide experience to a recovery ally or student in recovery during the school year.
  • $75 will assist SAFE Project in providing training to school administrators to create a more recovery-inclusive community on campus.
  • $250 will sponsor a Leadership Academy student’s impact project to positively impact collegiate recovery on their campus.
  • Any donation, big or small, can make students in recovery feel safe and comfortable on their campus.

Make a difference today

Folks can also get involved by following SAFE Project on social media (@safeprojectus across all major platforms), or by directly volunteering with SAFE Project.