They are part of the first class of the Evanston-Norwood-Xavier (ENX) Leadership Academy, a grassroots leadership development program for caring, community-conscious people living or working in Evanston, Norwood and Xavier.
The group comes together once a week at the Alumni Center to learn about community-based assets, economic development and building community wealth.
“I’m learning how to deal with external resources, which may be needed for community projects,” says Bill Graff from the West Norwood Neighborhood Association. “It’s also been a great networking experience.”
“The hope is these people will come away empowered to make the changes they want to see,” says De Asa Brown, ENX community partnership coordinator. “We also hope this will help strengthen the bond between Norwood, Evanston and Xavier and result in more collaborative efforts between the three communities.”
Evanston resident Roberta Crews says she is gaining a better understanding of how to work hand-in-hand with local government councils and other institutions to help her neighborhood and how to find funding as well.
“I’ve also learned how an individual versus an organization can have an impact,” Crews says.
The class is almost evenly divided between representatives from the three neighborhoods. Two external coordinators facilitate the curriculum and also bring in speakers from the various communities to address the group.
“Since we live so close to each other I feel that we should get together and learn how we can be leaders in our communities,” says ENX participant Tiffany Robinson. “I feel a lot more comfortable going to work and class knowing that there are concerned citizens in the surrounding neighborhoods who care about their neighborhood and others.”
The ENX Leadership Academy was developed as part of a broader set of community development initiatives that make up the Evanston-Norwood-Xavier Community Partnership in conjunction with the Evanston Community Council, the West Norwood Neighborhood Association and the Norwood Service League. The academy is funded by PNC Bank.
The ENX Community Partnership was developed through a Community Outreach Partnering Center (COPC) grant awarded to Xavier by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Xavier was one of 14 schools nationwide selected to receive the highly competitive grant, $392,000 over three years. It was awarded through HUD’s Office of University Partnerships.
One of the goals of the COPC grant is to build the capacity of community leaders in Evanston and Norwood to achieve objectives and work together. The grant is administered with technical support from the Community Building Institute, a partnership between Xavier and the United Way.