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Example 3: The Westside Job Development Group: Investing for Our Community's Future


The team will have responsibility for bringing people from different parts of the community (e.g., local businesses, chamber of commerce, community college, school board, local and regional government, media) together to creatively address the need for living wage jobs in our neighborhood. The members must be able to motivate community members and leaders to get involved, design and manage a comprehensive effort, and bring about sufficient unity for a diverse group of people to work together. We anticipate 6-7 members in our leadership team, including a local government representative, a board member on the local Chamber of Commerce, a local businessperson, representatives from the community college and school district, and a social services employee familiar with local persons' difficulties in finding employment.


We expect that our organization's leadership will need multiple skills to be successful. Thus, we will provide training for leaders and members in how to get information and resources regarding job creation and skills training using the Internet, local library, and documents from city, state, and national agencies. We will also develop relationships with key political and community leaders, including the Chamber of Commerce and city and regional government, who may be able to help implement a comprehensive job development plan or help change local policies that could affect job growth. Leaders will learn how to present statistical data such as employment trends and changing demographics to lay people and lead discussions with community members. All leaders will participate in diversity training to enhance appreciation of the contribution of ethnic differences to meeting group goals. Finally, we will invite leaders from communities with greater unemployment to participate in the organization to increase our effectiveness and relevance.


We will try to teach leadership by the example we each set. In collaboration with the local library, we will conduct workshops to obtain needed research skills. We will bring in a facilitator from a nearby college to provide diversity training. Professionals with knowledge of the forces that interact to successfully create jobs will conduct informational seminars about what has worked in other communities to increase living wage employment. Leaders within the team who already have ties to political and community leaders will mentor other leaders on how to establish such relationships. Several members of the leadership team will spend time in exchanges with other local organizations that have experience conducting public information workshops and translating technical information into lay person's terms. These team members will learn more about these skills, and report back to the group about what they have learned. We will meet informally with leaders from other organizations with similar goals to learn from and with our peers. An annual two-day retreat at a nearby church camp will be used to help leaders reflect on how things are going and to restore themselves for this work.


To develop capabilities in leadership and facilitation skills in all team members, we will rotate the leading of monthly meetings. We will also provide the opportunity and encourage each member to express one frustration and one accomplishment for which they are proud in the past month. Others will be encouraged to suggest ways of helping address the frustration. Different individuals will need to develop different leadership skills as the organization progresses. Leaders involved in working with volunteers will receive training in recruiting and managing volunteers from local agencies who rely on volunteers, especially those recruited from the business and industrial sector. Leaders involved in preparing communications-such as fact sheets on the relationship between regional zoning policies and the creation of new local industry and business -will receive training in public information skills from the communications department of the local community college. A volunteer from a nearby public relations firm will serve as a mentor for leaders involved in the social marketing campaign to mobilize support for policy changes aimed at creating jobs.


We will seek to involve new members from the community who have experience in political and media advocacy, who are connected to business and industry, are associated with skill training organizations, and/or are connected with local public policy makers. We will also reach out to individuals who have organized to address other issues in the community and have experience working in the community. Leaders from ethnic communities, including those from faith communities and neighborhood organizations, will be recruited to become part of the campaign. Representatives from all groups affected by the problem, including those seeking employment and those seeking employees, will be actively recruited. Finally, we will pair youth from local high schools and middle schools with an adult mentor to help develop future generations of leadership for community work.


To develop myself as a leader, I will meet at least monthly with each member of the leadership team to discuss how I can better support our common work. We will get together informally, such as for lunch or coffee, to get to know each other better. I will seek their support and guidance for problems that I face in my work. We will seek to trust each other to lead and follow through, and not require being involved with every part of the process. I will set aside time to reflect on how things are going, read about related ideas, and attend workshops and retreats on personal effectiveness. My goal is to balance my work with time for family, friends, and leisure in a principle-centered and healthy life.