FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Neighborhood Leadership Academy?

Think of it as a crash course in community organizing! The Neighborhood Leadership Academy is a multi-week program that empowers residents to make positive change locally. Have you ever wanted to improve your neighborhood or community but weren’t sure where to start? The Academy will help you turn your ideas into action.

What does the Academy cost?

It’s free! The Academy is co-presented by the NRC and the South Bend Heritage Foundation, who gratefully acknowledge support from the City of South Bend and the South Bend Brew Werks Community Partners program.

What will I learn?

As a participant, you will learn how to identify an issue in your community, recruit others who share an interest in the issue, set goals for action, influence local government, and make connections to address the issue. Graduates will be able to organize residents around a shared vision of a stronger community, take action to realize that vision, and create a foundation of success for future growth.

Additional topics will include Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD), team building, campaign development, action planning, and measuring success. The program will also provide a foundation for community organizers who wish to develop a lasting organization or association such as a recognized neighborhood association.

Who is eligible to participate in the Academy?

The Academy welcomes applications from any South Bend resident age 18 or over who would like to learn the basics of community organizing. Participants must reside within South Bend city limits.

How long is the Academy?

The Academy begins Thursday, September 21 and meets eight evenings over three months. All sessions are Thursdays from 6:00 – 8:30 p.m. The Academy will also consist of a team project and a final presentation, so teams may need to collaborate between scheduled sessions. See the full schedule.

Where will it be held?

Each session of the Academy will be held at American National University (1030 E Jefferson @ Eddy).

Do I have to be part of a neighborhood association (or commit to starting one)?

No. While the Academy is valuable for those who will be involved in a neighborhood association, we know most community organizations don’t start out quite so… organized! Rather, they often evolve from a core group of issue-minded leaders like you. If you want to make positive change in your community, we encourage you to apply.

Do I have to attend both the Fall and the Spring programs?

No. The Fall program is intended to help new neighborhood organizers get started with the basics of community organizing. The Advanced Academy in the Spring will pick up where the Fall Academy leaves off and is intended to help neighborhood leaders strengthen new or existing neighborhood associations by developing advanced organizational leadership skills.

Fall participants are encouraged to apply for and continue through the Advanced Academy if they so choose. However, it is not required.

Why is there an application process?

The Neighborhood Leadership Academy is an interactive, hands-on program. Many activities are facilitated, and participants will also complete projects in small groups with other participants. Class size is therefore very limited.

How will applicants be selected?

Applications will be reviewed as they are submitted. Applicants who are selected to participate will be notified beginning in early August. In the event the number of applicants exceeds available seats, preference will be given to applicants:

  • who have identified issues, ideas, or opportunities to make positive change within their community and demonstrate commitment to taking action to address them,
  • who demonstrate interest in developing or participating in an ongoing organization or neighborhood association, and
  • whose community-organizing visions align with the neighborhood-strengthening mission of the NRC.

What is community organizing?

Anytime you and others near you come together to make a change, you are organizing a community. You’ve probably heard various words to describe it: “neighborhood association,” “grassroots campaign,” or even “activism.” But it doesn’t necessarily mean “protest.” Sure, community members might organize to stop something bad, but they also do it to start something good. Community organizing is simply mobilizing community members around a shared mission so they can take more effective action.

What is Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD)?

ABCD is one of the most well-known models for neighborhood action. Positive change in a community rarely comes from the outside. Rather, it usually starts from within — when community members recognize their own strengths (assets!) and put them to use. Academy participants will learn to apply ABCD principles to identify and connect their community’s assets.

What sort of issues or causes will the Academy help me address?

Many Academy alumni are active members in neighborhood associations or other community organizations. These individuals work to make a wide variety of positive changes — from improving neighborhood safety, to repurposing vacant lots, to organizing a block party or promoting neighborhood service projects. Some work to discourage development that would negatively impact their neighborhood, while others work to encourage new development, jobs or other new community assets. All of them started with a shared vision of a stronger community, and then took action to realize that vision.

Think about your community or neighborhood. Do you have any ideas about what might make it better? Are you interested in taking action, and do you think others in your community might join you if asked? If your answer to those questions is “probably,” then you’re off to a good start.

How was the Academy program developed?

The Academy curriculum is based on NeighborWorks America’s Building Leaders, Building Communities program, customized for the South Bend community. The Academy is also grateful for additional development assistance provided by the Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center.

This is awesome! How can I tell a friend?

Share our Facebook event! Find us on Facebook (facebook.com/SBNRC) and share any of our posts about the Academy. You can also retweet us on Twitter (@NRCNeighbors), or share a link to our Academy webpage (nrc4neighborhoods.org) for application information.

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Last updated: Aug. 2, 2017, 10:45 a.m.