In a mobilized effort to address poverty in Pittsburgh, Alliance members, Parental Stress Center and Family Services of Western Pennsylvania, will lead and implement a year-long Citizens Leadership Initiative (CLI), designed to support and develop the capacity of vulnerable citizens to actively participate in civic life. The CLI project will be linked to their National Family Week celebrations this fall.
The CLI’s goal is to engage policymakers, agencies, local organizations, neighborhood groups, families, and the general public in the process of improving the quality of life for all members of the community by fostering long-term, systemic change.
Through the CLI, at least 25 citizens, hand-selected by sponsoring agencies to be CLI “fellows,” will participate in a twelve-week civic leadership training and implement a civic engagement project.
As a capstone event to the civic leadership training program, the CLI fellows will convene a National Family Week policy summit. The purpose of the summit is to provide background information about the CLI, obtain cooperation and support from area leaders, and gain insight about perceptions of community issues.
A new emphasis on National Family Week in 2007 includes a revised Alliance member grant program that identifies lead agencies that will serve as role models. Lead agencies will receive more substantial grants to further develop their advocacy work and civic engagement efforts. They will link their year-round efforts by culminating or launching family-strengthening initiatives during a National Family Week celebration, and provide advice and knowledge to other Alliance members.
“The Citizens Leadership Initiative is a wonderful example of how Alliance members can collaborate on a critical issue and combine their mission-based advocacy efforts and linking it to a National Family Week observance,” said Paula Purcell, director, special projects, Alliance for Children and Families. “They are committed to augmenting the National Family Week grant with additional fundraising.”
The CLI will also be incorporated into the Parental Stress Center’s NFW family dinner. CLI fellows will highlight the initiative, invite area residents to future CLI activities, and distribute and collect a survey on community needs and solutions.
Following the completion of the twelve-week training program, CLI fellows will implement a civic engagement project. The civic engagement project is intended to gain knowledge about community issues and establish priorities leading to action on matters of public policy. The methods by which this information will be gathered will be developed by CLI fellows and will be executed with the support from the sponsoring agencies. It is anticipated that the civic engagement project will incorporate the following activities:
· Town Hall Meetings
· Focus Groups
· Community Events
· Listening Circles
· Key Informant Interviews with community and neighborhood leaders, elected and public officials, and experts
· Neighborhood/Agency Tours by CLI fellows
All knowledge gathered by the CLI fellows through the civic engagement project will be compiled in a report to the community and will feature recommendations for additional activities and/or public policy change. This report will also be presented by CLI fellows to various local leaders including elected officials, directors of nonprofit/public agencies, foundation presidents, and the media in Sept. 2008.
Based on the recommendations contained in the report to the community, CLI fellows will determine whether additional activities may be undertaken on a selected issue or issues to inform the community and/or seek changes in public policy. This may involve CLI fellows taking on an advocacy role or the affiliation of the fellows with an existing advocacy organization.
All CLI fellow graduates will be nominated to serve on municipal boards and commissions, nonprofit agency boards, and other civic leadership positions upon completion of the initiative.
National Family Week is sponsored by The Annie E. Casey Foundation, www.aecf.org.