AIC works in low income communities as part of our mandate, and a happy side-effect of this work is the collection of knowledge and understanding both of leadership development, and how to apply leadership development processes to specific communities and groups of people. Many of the participants in our programs are facing not only financial challenges, but social exclusion because of race, age, ability, etc. We use our decade of experience in reaching marginalized groups in our Leadership Schools. These trainings – ranging from two hours to full day workshops – are for community members from low income neighbourhoods, including a variety of backgrounds and abilities, to gain essential skills and facilitate working with neighbours and building community to create positive change. Our leadership training program also includes a range of delivery tools to accommodate community members’ needs, from one-on-one house visits to large weekend leadership summits.
The innovative and proven aspect of our Leadership Schools is the “train the trainer” approach; as leaders build skills through the Leadership Schools, they build the capacity to facilitate leadership development in their neighbours. This approach is inherently sustainable, as the program grows from within and benefits from the range of experience embodied by participants, as they grow not only their own knowledge, but the skills to encourage growth and pass on knowledge to other people in their community.
The Community Leadership School program addresses poverty and inequality at its roots by empowering local community members to take leadership roles, and acknowledging their position as being best equipped to address the socio-economic challenges that affect them and their neighbours directly. Leadership Schools include practical skills development – outreach and communication, planning, facilitation – combined with knowledge of civic processes, current issues, and multiliteracy. This approach maximizes low income community members’ potential to address common issues, together.