Fostering Community Leadership: Putting the Research to Work with Three Network Members
In November 2020, River Network published a new network resource: Tools for Equitable Climate Resilience: Fostering Community Leadership. The toolkit outlines equitable and intentional ways to cultivate emerging leaders, including a step-by-step guide for building community-focused leadership development programs. Since introducing the toolkit at the end of 2020, we’ve moved forward in applying the research with members of our network.
With the support of the Kresge Foundation and Spring Point Partners, River Network has awarded technical assistance grants to three organizations in our network, each of which are embarking on developing their own leadership development initiatives. These organizations were selected because of their clear commitments to building inclusive programs, working in partnership with their communities, and inviting new and emerging leaders to participate in the planning process. Read on to meet our partners!
Defensores de la Cuenca
Defensores de la Cuenca (who was also recently awarded a Spring Point Partners partnership-building grant from River Network and WaterNow Alliance) in Cheverly, Maryland is building an academy-style program for the Spanish-speaking community of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. This program will focus on some technical environmental education topics (such as watershed health, heat islands, and green infrastructure) as well as civic engagement and community organizing skills. Focused on adults, the goal of this program is to provide a culturally relevant and accessible training program for the Latinx communities across the Chesapeake.
Partners for Environmental Justice
Partners for Environmental Justice in Raleigh, North Carolina, is rolling out the Raleigh Watershed Learning Network (modeled after the Atlanta Watershed Learning Network) as well as the Raleigh Youth Watershed Leadership Academy. Launching this year, the Learning Network is a three-month cohort-style program for adults, focused on local environmental issues and technical skill-building. The Youth Academy will be a summer program for minors and focus on environmental justice and critical power building skills for young adults. Together, these programs create a multi-generational approach to building strong champions in, and for, Raleigh.
Wellington Water Watchers
Wellington Water Watchers in Guelph, Ontario (previously a C.S. Mott Foundation drinking water campaign grantee) is building on the momentum of their province-wide virtual summit “Watershed 2020,” and the first stage of their People’s Water Campaign, which launched in 2020, to activate “action ready advocates” across their growing network. In developing an advocacy and issues-based training curriculum, the Water Watchers aim to build a dispersed network of water advocates across the province, carrying out the collaborative mission of restoring water protections for water security and justice in Ontario.
Supporting such initiatives is part of River Network’s effort to promote increased community resilience in the face of a changing climate and to advocate for water equity in local decision-making. Organizations across our network, like those highlighted above, understand that deep community engagement is vital in order to identify and develop passionate community advocates and change-makers.
Later this year, we will be showcasing these project partners as they finalize their program designs and prepare to implement their various training opportunities. Stay tuned for additional learning and peer-to-peer opportunities focused on leadership development throughout 2021!
Photo Credit: Vote Run Lead