As our final school year at Cone Elementary comes to an end, our committee has been working hard to identify the next issues that we, as a League, can have real impact on in our community.
Our members are currently reviewing three key issues in Greensboro: Aging, At-Risk Youth, and Literacy. At a recent forum, leaders and activists in these areas spoke about the situation regarding their issue and how The Junior League of Greensboro can get involved. See their comments below by clicking each tab.
Answer: Not necessarily and not exclusively. The JLG will determine how we can best impact the selected issue and deploy our volunteers and resources to the community agencies/ non-profits/ JLG led initiatives that will best achieve that goal. The issues are intentionally broad. The speakers invited to present represented a narrower focus of the bigger issue. So although Matt Anderson was asked to speak on “At Risk Youth”, his area of expertise is children aging out of the foster care system. Other “At Risk Youth” would include pregnant teens, teens with substance abuse issues, or homelessness. If we chose “At Risk Youth” we would then do further research to narrow our focus. We would determine what population of these youth to target and what outcomes we would hope to impact.
Answer: The role of the Issue-Based Community Impact (IBCI) Research committee is to present a slate of issues for the membership to vote on in April. Investigating the needs of our community led us to meet with several community agencies that are already working on these issues. Although we have intentionally left the issue area broad, we have given thought to potential community partners and placements by asking ourselves: How can the JLG impact this issue? What kind of placements could we incorporate our volunteers? Are there a wide variety of placements to meet the interests of our members? However, forming partnerships and creating placements has not been the focus of this committee.
Answer: Following the selection of the issue in April further research to really drill down into the issue area will continue. We will once again ask: Why is this an issue? What are the causes of this issue? (there could be many) Who is working on this issue? How can our league effectively impact this issue? At that time we will begin to identify and develop relationships with those community agencies and non-profits that can utilize our volunteers and resources to impact the issue. In addition to placements through existing community agencies, we also anticipate some Junior League initiatives that will tap into the abilities and capacity of our League. Lastly, we will continue to educate our membership on the issue so that everyone is well informed.
We started with a Community Needs Assessment. Our group identified the prevailing socio-economic trends in and around Greensboro by studying data from surveys, census reports, white papers, state and local government reports, and private sector research. We determined what resources or non-profits are already in place that are dedicated to the issue areas that stood out. We met with people who have expert knowledge relating to these topics. We narrowed the possibilities down to just a few focus areas.
We provided a list of issues the research committee compiled from our research, member feedback, and meetings with other community organizations. The issues vary widely and have varying scopes and levels of complexity. As we filter this challenging amount of data, we have been asking ourselves questions like: how large a demographic is effected by this issue, does the Junior League of Greensboro have the ability provide meaningful impact, would volunteer opportunities be a good match for the availability of our members, and who/what are the other organizations are currently working on this issue?
Our initial research, brainstorming, and suggestions from League members led to more in-depth research of issues like: food insufficiency, affordable housing, early childhood development, at risk youth and more. Organizations such as Urban Ministry, the Guilford County Health Department, the Cemala Foundation, the Philips Family Foundation, and Children’s Home Society helped us acquire a better understanding of both the issues themselves and the large amounts of data that help explain the needs in our community. There are some common themes that tie diverse issues. Identifying these themes allowed us to better organize the long list of issues into more manageable groupings, or focus areas. What will be presented to the membership in these Monday Minute articles and other educational opportunities will be examples of these focus areas and sometimes specific issues within that focus. Of course the categories are fluid and issues may fit under multiple focus areas. Literacy, for example, is a broad area of focus but included under that umbrella would be early literacy, adult literacy, English as a second language in immigrant populations, and financial literacy. The focus area of Early Childhood would include early literacy but also family support, school readiness, and healthy children.
Again as we discussed the different issues facing our community, we not only thought about existing community agencies that the JLG could partner with, but also the ways the JLG could provide our own unique impact. Mentoring, networking, advocating, project management are a few of the strengths of our League and membership. As we continue to discuss the issues we will be asking the membership to vote on, we need to keep in mind how we will apply the strengths of our League to those issues to maximize our impact/investment.
We want to keep our members up to speed on the process and current status as our committee researches our next issue. We wanted to introduce you to some of the topics that have come up in our research. Here is a list of some of the issues/needs (both narrow and broad) that have come up in our research.
This doesn’t cover it all, but it is a good representation. If you have any issues that you would like us to look into, please let us know. Please reach out to Megan Callahan, Issue-Based Community Program Development chair, via email@example.com or (336) 312-4969, with any comments or questions.
The Junior League of Greensboro, North Carolina, Inc. is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.