The Center on Community Philanthropy is a leader in promoting issues and concepts that illustrate its philosophy that community-based philanthropy is a powerful tool in social, economic and political change. This approach allows the center to lead new efforts to increase access, visibility and engagement of population groups of women, youth and communities of color in the practice of giving. The center focuses its work in the Delta Region and across the American South.
Pine Bluff, Ark.
The Center has been working to understand the challenges, processes, and successes of building a community philanthropy model in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Partner organizations in Pine Bluff are the Arkansas Community Foundation, the Pine Bluff Area Community Foundation Affiliate, and the City of Pine Bluff Economic and Community Development Department. The Center works with these partners to convene local leaders and stakeholders in focus groups and community dialogue around the issue of improvement for Pine Bluff neighborhoods. Most recently, a team of first year Clinton School students completed an asset map for the Economic and Community Development Department (ECD) detailing the youth and family services accessible to Eastside residents of Pine Bluff. The team facilitated a neighborhood conversation to discuss how to better leverage the identified services to collaboratively and productively fulfill related community needs. These projects are helping to uncover the challenges and barriers to better living outcomes for vulnerable children and families in the Pine Bluff area.
Helena-West Helena, Ark.
The Center has worked with stakeholders in Helena-West Helena to develop a county-wide, anti-poverty program entitled, Delta Circles. Delta Circles, a nonprofit serving Phillips County, seeks to build social capital, address structural causes of poverty and engage all community members in the movement to eradicate poverty. Rather than targeting short term needs of the community, Delta Circles is working to expand social capital by fostering relationships across racial and economic lines. By sharing their time, talent, and treasure, Phillips County residents are progressing toward long-term workforce improvement and poverty reduction in their community.
The Center is working with a community-led initiative to encourage community input on the re-opening of a vacant county building, the Emmett Till Multipurpose Complex. Through grassroots community input, an important element of community philanthropy, the goal of the project is to encourage Tallahatchie County Board of Supervisors to re-open the vacant building to house programs and initiatives decided by the community.
The Center has been working with grassroots organizations in Blytheville, Arkansas to formalize a youth development network for youth ages 6-18. As a result, the Blytheville Youth Coalition strives to support the community’s youth in a way that will prepare them to be strong community members and to be ready for the workforce, with a long-term goal of improving economic opportunity in the area. With support from the center, the Coalition has recently held its first Summer Youth Leadership Academy. Click here to see highlights from the 2014 Summer Youth Leadership Academy.
The Center on Community Philanthropy is proud of its continuing partnership with the Blytheville Youth Coalition. Studies have shown that children lose valuable skills over the summer months, and that this loss has been particularly detrimental to low-income children, who are about 2.5 years behind their more affluent peers. Over the course of five years, the Coalition and the Center (including a number of UACS Student graduate assistants) have collaborated to put the idea of community philanthropy into action and to address the pressing needs of Blytheville youth. Watch the video above of Blytheville community members dedicating their time, talent, and treasure to offer the inaugural Blytheville Youth Coalition Summer Leadership Academy. This footage was captured by Academy facilitators and was compiled by the Center on Community Philanthropy.
The Center has recently started supporting a new initiative of the Mississippi Delta—Higher Purpose Academy. An innovative community empowerment program for minority millennials in the Mississippi Delta, the program aims to engage them on several topics such as racial equity, financial literacy, building your personal brand, and entrepreneurship. Higher Purpose Academy has a vision of creating a pipeline of young leadership throughout Clarksdale who will stay in the area and continue to invest in the growth of the community.