Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs
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There is no charge for the program in order to make it available to all community residents and assure that program cost is not a barrier to participation.

While there is no charge for the program, all participants are made aware that there is a cost - their time and commitment to full participation since they are learning from each other. Participants have responded to this challenge and the program has had extraordinary attendance. Ninety percent of the participants miss one class or less.

Residents are recruited for the program from community-based organizations, through NCA neighborhood centers, and through community development corporations (CDCs). One of the most effective forms of recruitment is through our graduates who identify individuals like themselves whom they believe will benefit from the class. Each class has become easier to recruit as people in the community become more aware of the course and as graduates expand their networks. There is currently a waiting list to get into the program. At the end of each class, participants are asked to evaluate the class overall and what difference it has made. The results of the evaluation have also been very positive. When asked whether they felt they had made positive working relationships with participants from other neighborhoods through the program, the average response was that participants "strongly agreed" they had made connections. In terms of overall satisfaction, participants were very satisfied. On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being extremely satisfied, the average response was 4.25.

The evaluation report from the last class concludes: "When asked about three things that the NLC program provided that enhanced the participant's development most as a leader, the participants were fairly consistent in their answers. Many cited the opportunities to network with leaders from other neighborhoods as the most helpful.

Others referred to their increased understanding of resources available to them, and the sharing of information. Some participants referred to specific skills such as learning how to facilitate a meeting or an opportunity to examine and refine a goal statement for themselves and their neighborhoods. In general, the participants referred to a reinforced commitment to make changes in their neighborhoods, an increased appreciation of diversity, and a greater awareness of resources available to them in their capacity as community leaders."

There is still a great need for the program since it has only reached a small percentage of committed leaders. In addition, to successfully address neighborhood problems, a larger network of leaders needs to be created in all neighborhoods in order to work on common issues and provide needed support.

NLCs first class began six years ago with a major grant from the Kellogg Foundation and local support from the George Gund Foundation, Cleveland Foundation and Sohio. The program is now supported through small foundation grants and program sponsors. The cost for the training is twelve hundred dollars ($1200) per participant which includes all materials and fees. Currently, Cleveland City Council and Neighborhood Progress Inc. fund about one-third of the slots in each class for individuals that they believe would benefit from the training.

NLC has demonstrated that there are active and committed volunteers in our neighborhoods who care deeply about their children, families and neighborhoods who are willing to find time in their already overwhelming schedules to enhance their skills. Based on this commitment and desire of community residents to actively work for change, efforts are underway to enlarge the activities and identify additional community partners that can provide on-going support for the program.