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Uplifting a New Community of Leaders

San Jose is a city of rich cultural and ethnic diversity. The Hispanic/Latin community makes up 31.6% of this diversity. Among that group are some residents who are so dedicated to improving their neighborhoods that they took on CommUniverCity’s Community Leadership Program.

The Community Leadership Program [CLP], recently wrapped up a 3 month training of its 6th cohort. This program develops facilitator skills among the central San Jose Spanish speaking community.  It creates a pipeline of emerging leaders to become ambassadors and advocates whose community building efforts will improve their neighborhoods.

Every Thursday evening from early February to the end of April, 19 community members, 3 SJSU students, 3 CommUniverCity Staff Members, and 1 SJSU professor logged on and shared space for 1.5 to 2 hours. Each week, during these hours spent together, the emerging leaders learned the building blocks of becoming facilitators and researchers.

The course was delivered in 5 phases. In the first phase, participants introduced themselves to the program and discussed community topics they felt a need to focus on. The second phase consisted of recruiting other community members, designing strategic question relating to the selected topics, actively listening to each other’s issues, and note taking. In the third phase, implementation of live interviews were conducted using building blocks from the first two phases. In the fourth phase, participants analyze the data that was collected during the interviews to identify prominent themes of community issues. The final phase involved practice presenting the data as a group to a panel of experts who regularly work to address each community topic. 

By the end of the program, this group of adult learners, led by SJSU Environmental Studies professor Dr. Carolina Prado, delivered the culmination of their work: group presentations outlining findings of their community interviews and recommendations for next steps. 

The 5 groups presented information about the following issues: Quality Education, Housing and Rent, Clean Streets, Safe Streets, Employment. The panel of experts was comprised of representatives from Santa Clara County Office of Education, D3 Councilmember Peralez, District 5 Office, City of San Jose Code Enforcement, Trash Punx, California Walks, City of San Jose Housing Department, Spartan Keyes Neighborhood, Center for Employment Training, and Sacred Heart. 

The experts offered an opportunity to collaborate after the program. We are so thankful for their time and energy to share their knowledge with community members who are as passionate about the work they do as they are.

As storied as these new leaders are, there is more to come after graduating from our program. Having previously accompanied others at the table, they can now lead the conversation at the table. And we are excited to support them however they see fit.

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