The July Leadership Forum for Forward Wayne County was a huge success! Over 50 community stakeholders gathered, networked, and planned for continued change in Wayne County.  Attendees had the opportunity to learn about the strategic efforts of many different organizations that are doing a lot of good in the community.

The forum started out with an introduction from Wayne County Foundation Executive Director Steve Borchers to welcome the forum attendees, new and veteran.  Of the new attendees were the new president of Earlham, Anne M. Houtman, dean of the IU East School of Business and Economics, Denise Smith, and the Executive Director of the United Way of Whitewater Valley, Tamara Brinkman.

Attendees learned about collective impact, the responsibility of a backbone organization, and engaged in discussion regarding measuring success within a large-scale initiative like Forward Wayne County. Collective impact is a framework that looks at the effect of large-scale organized change.  When organizations come together to form a common agenda that will solve specific problems in a community or business, big things can happen. This idea serves as the main method Forward Wayne County utilizes. The forum attendees also learned about backbone organizations; organizations that help improve social outcome factors by organizing groups of people to change a system the is not working at peak efficiency. Backbone organization success is focused on 6 key areas and they are an important part of the collective impact process. Lauralee also went in-depth on systems changes and the four key phrases of collective impact.

Forward Wayne County focus areas were discussed and information was provided on the next steps for the current focus areas. The NICE! Program, a neighborhood development project being used in the Neighborhood Development focus area of Forward Wayne County was discussed. Future efforts in Neighborhood Development were also presented, including listening sessions at Jubilee Days in Hagerstown and in Downtown Richmond.

The Leadership Forum included an open floor for a number of county organizations. Megan Broeker, Executive Director of Drug-Free Wayne County Partnership, was the first to present. She highlighted the function of the Partnerhsip and how it employs the use of the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF). Megan also went over Drug-Free Wayne County’s future Youth Coalition which will help educate and invite kids on drug prevention in the community.

Dr. Nancy Green of the Early Childhood Coalition for Wayne County Kids then presented. Dr. Green highlighted the many efforts her organization has been doing in the community. They have been very involved in different schools and have been helping them with their early childhood education programs. One of their biggest efforts was getting grant money to provide 4 Pre-K classrooms to different schools in the county. Dr. Green then showed that Richmond Community School’s use of a food truck to provide food to kids in the community has been a huge success.

Patti Peterson of the Diplomas Task Force then spoke on the efforts of her organization. The closure of Diplomas decreased the amount of support provided to teen parents in the Richmond Community Schools system.  It also inhibited the support network that was set up through the program which included valuable parenting education and hands-on guidance for new parents. The current Diploma’s Task Force made recommendations that included increasing the number of childcare seats available in Wayne County and providing more opportunities for parent education for parents in the area.

Eric Nicholson of Richmond Neighborhood Restoration (RNR) then presented what he and RNR have been doing throughout the community. RNR has been able to obtain two historic houses in Richmond, and they have been working on restoring them to make the houses livable. Located at 2009 East Main Street and 2237 East Main Street, these two houses represent the 4th wave of projects taken on by RNR. Eric noted the projects started by RNR have been able to add jobs to the community, increase home values, and bring new residents to Wayne County.

Steve Borchers provided insight into Wayne County Foundation’s Key Initiative Grant Cycle.  Steve highlighted that there is $75k available in grant money to fund projects that align with the Forward Wayne County framework.  He also encouraged the group to provide insight into their experience in Wayne County.  Feedback gathered at initiative gatherings are so helpful when paving the path for future efforts.

The July Leadership Forum was a huge success and a lot was accomplished! Want to review what was discussed? Check it out here! Did you attend the July Leadership Forum?  How has Forward Wayne County helped you or your organization grow your efforts of change in Wayne County? How can Forward Wayne County best help move Wayne County forward?  Check us out on social media @forwardINwayne and use the tag #forwardINwayne so we can be part of the conversation!  

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