This year, the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition proudly announced the re-launch of its very own training program, the Community Leadership Academy, designed for and by the leaders of our organization. Developed in 2006, CLA attained citywide recognition for its sophistication in establishing high-quality spaces for preparing leaders with a shared analysis, skill set, and vision. Today, CLA continues to evolve with ongoing input from upcoming leaders, to prepare the next generation to carry the organization forward. Members, if you wish to access training materials, log-in here.
In the Spring of 2012, a team of ten youth and adult leaders with years of collective wisdom and experience with running effective campaigns to win change locally and nationally convened to revamp the CLA curriculum and develop new trainings. Many of these leaders got their organizing start as young people at Sistas and Brothas United, were mentored to become trainers of other leaders, and developed into organizers in their own right that have gone on to direct political campaigns or take on organizing positions at NWBCCC or other “people power” organizations across the city.
Together trainers revised the structure of the program and launched the first CLA introductory training weekends in June and July of 2012. 40 new leaders of affiliated institutions were engaged in eight trainings on the fundamentals of community organizing, systems of oppression, one-on-one relationship building, outreach and basebuilding, economic development, power analysis, and campaign development. Participating members had the unique opportunity to work with their trainers and with one another to sharpen fundamental organizing skills, gain new tools, deepen their political analysis, and build bonds of support. Our leadership development program sustains a continuous process of reflection and action to nurture well-rounded community leaders that bring their talents into the public arena to transform our society.
The Community Leadership Academy is part of an ongoing process of leadership development at the NWBCCC that sets people on their path to power, individually and collectively. We challenge community members to see themselves as experts—not victims—who hold the key to transforming our society’s systemic injustices in their lived experiences. We move them to define their personal goals as leaders and to connect with their “big dream” for the community—an ambitious vision and deep hunger for a transformed world. Through our introductory training series, we equip leaders with the foundational skills of community organizing and frameworks for their personal and political development. Leaders continue to exercise these skills and concepts to effect powerful change through their campaign work in the community. Through deepening an authentic connection with their own purpose, they in turn learn to motivate and inspire others to do the same.
The training team elected to institute a Specialization Training Series to offer advanced leaders with periodic opportunities to hone their expertise on a particular skillset or area of focus. In collaboration with the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative, the Coalition launched the Economic Democracy Specialization Trainings Series in October and November 2012. The Economic Democracy training series was designed to prepare core leadership and staff to build a healthier, sustainable economy in the Bronx by: (a) equipping us with the tools to think critically about the Bronx economy, (b) introducing us to methods other communities have used to build local economies that work for them, and (c) supporting us to generate new strategies for the future of our organization and community.
We are tired of business and politics as usual–which ultimately benefit an elite class who are not Bronx stakeholders. Through these trainings, we will re-think how we engage with our local economy and our organizing strategy. The end goal, however, is not a theoretical conversation. From the trainings, a core committee of leaders will create an organizational platform to identify concrete criteria, campaign demands, and strategy to guide our work. It’s time to get serious about tested economic development strategies that generate wealth and collaboration amongst community residents and ultimately position them to have access to greater decision-making power.
How are we doing this?
- Capacity building—Series of 6 trainings to develop our leadership to have a critical understanding of how our local economy functions. These are not your standard organizing trainings around the economy. Don’t just skim over the surface to get people agitated and angry so that they’re ready to take the to the streets. Break down sophisticated concepts into down-to-earth terms for leadership so that they understand exactly how this happens. Understand complex concepts about economics so that they can have that kind of command—understand how and why exactly their community continues to get screwed and be able to develop their own proposals
- Convened a Steering Committee of 12 leaders that represent all branches of our organization—youth, tenants, parents, FU, clergy. To develop an Economic Democracy platform that will shape our work as we enter into our 5-year strategic planning process. Principles of an Economic Democracy framework by which to evaluate our campaigns to understand what work is not strategic and what work needs to shift if our long-term goal is to develop ownership, Demands, Action Steps. Launch it with the 50 year anniversary of the March on Washington.
- Platform will be used to evaluate our work according to a set of criteria:
Principle: Democractic ownership and governance as the core organizing principle for social and economic life.