Building Blocks believes that the activation, development, and support of resident leaders is key to sustainable and equitable change in the community.
Further, Building Blocks believes that residents already possess the skill set necessary to be a change maker and leader on their street. Our goal is to identify the gifts and skills of residents and inspire them through action and peer-learning to utilize those gifts.
The Neighborhood Leader Academy brings residents, community members, and staff together in our programs to provide facilitation and training which cultivates individual and collective resident leadership towards deep and lasting transformation in Kalamazoo’s neighborhoods.
Building Blocks offers unique leader development opportunities in each of our programs.
Training is facilitated by staff, residents, and other community partners.
In partnership with the Neighborhood Organization hosting the Catalyst Program, Building Blocks selects two resident facilitators who help guide a resident group on the project site through the spring program. An average cohort is about 16 resident facilitators devoted to 8 neighborhood sites.
The resident facilitators attend an 8-session training that supports their work on the street. This enables them to practice skills and tools while they learn and explore them together.
The sessions focus on:
Community Organizing Skills
Door Knocking and Recruitment
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Facilitating Group Meetings
Sessions are approximately two hours in length with 30 to 45 minutes devoted to a topic presentation and the remaining time to peer-to-peer learning.
Building Blocks selects one to three resident groups who completed the Catalyst Program to form Block-Action Groups active in the Sustained Program.
Block-Action Groups are groups of residents on a block committed to defending the well-being of their street by addressing issues and completing projects in partnership with each other, Building Blocks and other community agencies as needed.
Building Blocks builds the collective capacity of block-action groups to identify, plan and address issues or complete projects.
Building Blocks provides seed money, peer-learning groups.
All active residents
Building Blocks provides additional support to all residents associated, past or present, in Building Blocks.
Our goal is to support and inspire residents to continue to lead on their street regardless of their formal participation in our programming.
Currently, we offer one series called:
Leader Groundwork focuses on the individual leader in a community of grassroots leaders. The Leader Groundwork sessions help individuals reflect, build resilience, and develop inner strength to continue working and serving their community.
Opportunities to expand this Leader Groundwork experience are being explored.