Neighborhood Leadership Institute builds cross-sector relationships

Monday, February 10, 2014 6:50:00 PM

After nearly two years of planning and implementation, the Neighborhood Leadership Institute (NLI) recently completed its pilot program. By all accounts, the program was a success.

The NLI launched in 2012 when Stritch partnered with the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, LISC-Milwaukee, Northwestern Mutual Foundation, United Neighborhood Centers of Milwaukee, and the Zilber Family Foundation.

The objective was clear- to build leadership capacity in Milwaukee neighborhoods and ultimately improve quality of life for residents.

To meet this goal, the NLI welcomed a two-person team from several Milwaukee neighborhoods. Each team consisted of one resident and one nonprofit professional.

“We believe it is very important to create these cross-sector relationships,” said Jeanette Mitchell, Ed.D., '01, program director for the Leadership Center. “The NLI provided opportunity to bring neighbors together who might not have otherwise met, united in their values and mission.”

Over the course of the pilot program, participants met three times each month and focused on developing their leadership skills while examining their neighborhoods and studying national best practices. Each pair also created and implemented projects, including the creation of neighborhood associations and landlord training.

“We really focus on seeking where the power is in the city and its neighborhoods,” said Mitchell. “Our participants look at how to impact the sphere of influence and improve engagement in their communities.”

In addition to the neighborhood projects and development of leaders, Mitchell observed another key success.

“Over the course of the programs, we saw many friendships begin and continue to build,” she noted.

Although this was the NLI’s first program, its results can already be seen in neighborhoods throughout Milwaukee.