Nevada City’s nonprofit feeling global impact |

Nevada City’s nonprofit feeling global impact

Submitted to The Union

The road looked deserted when a young Liberian boy scrambled onto the back of a vegetable truck and rode into the city in 2014. He scavenged food from garbage heaps.

No one wanted to take him in, as an Ebola orphan. A teacher found him and enrolled him in a boarding school. It happened to be a Full-Circle Learning school, where his scholarship could turn his outlook from that of victim to solution-giver.

Now, after its 25th anniversary year, Full-Circle Learning answers the call of a greater number of teachers and learners than ever, with 88,000 served in December alone.

The nonprofit organization is completing a community impact study to explore distinctive aspects of learning and leading in seven of its 30 nations. The study will feature Liberia as one of the seven.

Education as Transformation

Liberian students have worked to address the most challenging issues in their communities, applying a habit-of-heart in each learning unit toward personal and community transformation goals. They have used their skills to seek economic and agricultural solutions to post-Ebola hunger.

They have united to transcend childhood marriage and prostitution, in favor of education and gender equity. They’ve spoken out on street corners to advocate peace and unity, to prevent a repeat of prior deadly civil wars. With awareness of shippers’ contributions to pollution, they’ve worked for cleaner oceans.

Now, to bring their original dilemma full-circle, they are learning to become community health advocates, after Ebola swept through the clinics, leaving a dire shortage of health-care workers.

How Nevada County Plays a Role

Many schools awaiting help from Full-Circle Learning. Once again, Nevada County’s arts community has volunteered its talents.

For Love of Children, a concert at St. Joseph’s at 3 p.m. Feb. 4, will feature three acclaimed musicians — Nancy Harper, Peter Terry and Alexandra Roedder.

The concert will answer requests from Liberia and begin to help five more countries also move off the waiting list, to join 30 nations that have already participated in Full-Circle Learning.

It isn’t the first time local audiences rallied.

In 2014, the 31 Liberian schools then practicing Full-Circle Learning requested funds for Ebola prevention. Listeners came to St. Joseph’s to hear Terry Riley, Beaucoup Chapeaux and Ludi Hinrichs and Friends. With their help, FCL fulfilled the teachers’ monetary request to supply bleach, gloves, buckets, food and prevention flyers for the schools.

When not one family contracted the virus, demands for teacher workshops flooded the Full-Circle Learning Center — until Liberia reached a total of 98 FCL-trained schools, with 800 more teachers on the waiting list. These teachers want to learn how they too can become humanitarians.

The current focus on health advocacy for Liberian students follows 2017 projects to improve agriculture, climate change solutions, food security, eldercare, vector control, emergency preparedness (hurricanes and earthquakes) and other public health projects elsewhere around the world. Teachers customize their projects to regional needs.

Inspired by the vision of a world in which learning goals are entwine with integrity and desire for the common good, newly trained teachers in Nigeria and Cameroon have called their new tools “the missing puzzle piece.”

Wisdom exchanges

The organization did not start out with the intention of becoming a global concern but merely with the idea of uniting learners in distant places in wisdom exchanges. The learners strive to see a challenge through a local and global lens, while honoring a universal sense of humanity and a desire for self-mastery.

Headquartered in Nevada City for the past five years, Full-Circle Learning sprouted in 1992 with a successful post-riot grassroots project in Los Angeles. Its collaborations grew on demand, at new or existing schools on five continents, mostly in low-income nations. The multi-school projects extend from China to Papua New Guinea.

The group guides schools and learners of all ages to embrace their role as society’s humanitarians and change agents, the core mission of the organization. The method of delivery now comes through free teacher capacity building, wisdom exchanges, student scholarships, curricula, translations and educational programs.

A philosophy that begins with the notion of compassionate connection to a broader human family helps students envision a purpose for their learning. The key lies in helping teachers plan around a common vision and develop shared strategies to implement it. For more information, visit or email

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