The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation

Expanding Leadership Training for Lower Income Minorities

Grant Information
Categories Education , Community
Location Texas
Cycle Year 2015
Organization Information
Organization Name (provided by applicant) Texans Together Education Fund, INC.
Organization Name (provided by automatic EIN validation)
Contact Information
Contact Name Charhonda Cox
Phone 7137828833
4001 N Shepherd
Suite 205
Additional Information
Used for We will use the money to expand our Empower Houston Leaders program. The funds will assist us in training and engaging an additional class of 25 lower- income, minority community leaders in Houston. s. In particular, it will pay for leadership trainers’ time recruiting, training, mentoring, and supervising the leaders’ community projects.
Benefits Empower Houston Leaders provides leadership skills to lower income minorities so they can take responsibility for improving their communities We then supervise these leaders in engaging their communities in creating a community project the community wants. These sustainable leadership skills and experiences then will be used in the future on more community projects.
Proposal Description We benefit low income communities by providing them with skilled community leaders, who then engage their neighbors in a community projects to improve their lives. We have trained in the last four years over 600 leaders who have established over 100 projects. Specifically, we seek funding from the Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation to assist in adding an additional EHL (Empower Houston Leaders) class of 25 leaders.

According to the Annette Strauss Institute’s Texas Civic Health Index, our state is currently at the bottom in many indicators of civic participation, and the fastest growing segment of our population is also the most civically disengaged: Hispanics, Asian-Americans, and minority youth generally. Their continued civic disengagement portends public under-investment, social disunity, and democratic unresponsiveness. As the Annette Strauss Institute points out, “expert research and common sense both strongly suggest that a society lacking in citizen participation is more prone to inefficiency, corruption, and unresponsive government.” But with the right community engagement approach, these disengaged citizens can learn and become civically engaged. To ensure the continued vitality of our state and our communities, lower-income minority Texans must become active participants in our communities.
The EHL Program gives disengaged Texans a meaningful voice by empowering them with grassroots leadership skills and guidance in engaging their communities. EHL provides constructive community leadership development geared to lower income minorities: practical, basic civic skills taught by experienced minority organizers from similar low-income backgrounds; regular mentoring; supervision on civic engagement projects of their choosing; and establishment of an EHL leaders support network. We believe “renewing and building civic participation… requires person-to-person connections, leading to positive experiences within a supportive community addressing personally felt issues. Effective grassroots leaders are active at the heart of these endeavors” (W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Grassroots Leadership Development: A Guide for Grassroots Leaders, Support Organizations, and Funders, 2003). Just as Chambers of Commerce invest in young professional leadership programs because their civic participation is important, we need to invest in effective leadership development programs in lower-income minority communities in Texas' major urban areas.

Because of EHL’s success and reputation, the demand for our leadership program from churches, community centers, and nonprofit groups far exceeds our current capacity. Community residents want to learn practical leadership skills in order to improve their neighborhoods and their lives. They just need the opportunity to obtain the skills, mentoring and support to engage their communities.

We seek to expand our program so we can offer at least one additional leadership class. We choose to focus on Alief because we have strong community relationships there and Alief is a microcosm of Texas’ multi-cultural, lower-income urban areas. With its significant and diverse minority population, Alief currently experiences low civic participation – precisely the problem Texans Together is addressing.

Each EHL class of 25 leaders has five parts: 1) recruitment; 2) practical classroom training; 3) supervised, hands-on community projects; 4) leadership networking; and 5) encouraging community voting (strictly non-partisan, and which isn’t a part of this grant proposal). We begin by recruiting potential leaders through our relationships with congregations, non-profit organizations, community leaders, minority radio stations, and local community centers. We also recruit through a variety of partner organizations, such as Neighborhood Centers and LULAC. For each leadership class, we recruit and select 30 lower-income minorities who have leadership potential, are interested in community empowerment and service, and commit in writing to attend and participate fully in all activities.

Each class provides community leaders two-three hours a week of practical classroom training (with childcare) for eight weeks at a convenient location in their community. Our experienced minority trainers also regularly contact and mentor their students outside of class. We teach practical, constructive skills, such as how to recruit volunteers, how to select and plan a community project, how to use social media and obtain press coverage, and how to lead others effectively. There are breakout groups, role playing, and inspiring outside speakers. Our staff arranges for minority community speakers and mentors to share their organizing and leadership experiences with the students.

Our trainers then supervise the emerging leaders extensively for at least 6 months in small teams on local civic engagement projects of their choosing. The class will graduate at least 25 EHL leaders (there is inevitably some attrition) and develop six community projects. These projects vary greatly, but examples are establishing a PTA, hosting a job fair, organizing for better community center services, and closing a dangerous public street.

The funds will be used to pay the salaries of the lead trainer and assisting trainers, which makes up over 90% of the program costs.