A Great Example of How a Community Can Learn and Work Together

In 2004, I graduated from Leadership Greater Washington – a 10-month program that included a cross-sector of leaders who came together once a month to learn about the various issues facing our region: education, housing, health, etc. At the time, it was an elite group of established community leaders. At the young age of 29, I don’t think I appreciated how fortunate I was to be in that class – especially since many of us are still friends and have even traveled around the world together. As an only child, I view my close-knit group of classmates as the siblings I never had.

But I digress. At the end of each day, my classmates would be so riled up by what they learned and observed, that we would put together a plan to do something to address the issue. We collected books to deliver to the juvenile detention center after Criminal Justice Day. The year after Katrina, a group went down to New Orleans to help rebuild houses. (It was no surprise that we nicknamed our class: ‘2004: We Do More.’) To participate in the program, each person had to pony up a significant amount of money – or, at least, it was significant for those of us whose company couldn’t or wouldn’t pay for it.

Having been engaged in some workforce sector partnerships in Colorado, I was curious to read the Health Affairs article, “Addressing Complex Social Determinants Of Health In One Region By Building Cross-Sectoral Partnerships” and I was instantly in love with the idea. The Rider-Pool Foundation launched a fellowship program where they support community leaders in a program that sounds very similar to LGW – but there is an intention to form community and professional connections to deliberately work together and improve their community. The training is more focused on things like results-based management, measurement and evaluation, and community engagement. However, they learn and talk about how they do these things together.

And they have the results to prove that the fellowship program is making a difference. It may not look exactly like the same program everywhere, but it sure does seem like a program that could be replicated in a lot of communities. Now we just need to get other funders to support it.

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