Southern Echo training programs
Community Organizing and Organizational Development
In March 2004, more than 50 representatives of 16 new and emerging organizations from 7 southern states participated in a 3-day residential training school on Community Organizing and Organizational Development. This annual training focuses on organizations awarded grants through the Community Organizing Initiative of the C. S. Mott Foundation. Southern Echo functions as an Intermediate Support Organization in the Initiative to provide grants up to $15,000 to support community organizing work by emerging groups. This training included the fundamentals of community organizing, understanding how to build budgets, making an organizational budget support the program of work, the tools and skills of fundraising, the importance of a clear vision, effective strategies and meaningful program of work as a basis for successful fundraising, and the different, but complementary roles of organizational staff and board.
Public School Finance and Budgets as Public Policy
In April 2004, Southern Echo held a 3-day residential training school on School Finance and Budgets as Policy for more than 50 representatives of grassroots organizations and educators from 7 school districts in Mississippi. The inter-generational cross-section of parents, students, teachers, school board members and other public officials worked in small teams to develop a vision of quality education delivered, while role playing specific stakeholder profiles set out for each participant. Then they learned about local, state and federal financial resources available to Mississippi school districts to finance their budgets. The teams were given a specific budget limit, asked to construct a budget that reflected their vision, to report on the order of priority established for long- and short-term goals, which programs they budgeted for and which not, and what underlying policies their choices reflected.
Zoning as Environmental Policy
In May 2004, Southern Echo held a 3-day residential training school on Zoning as a Tool of Environmental Policy. More than 60 activists and public officials from 7 southern states learned to adapt zoning strategies to implement environmental policies. Small teams role-played stakeholders in a mythical town and a town map displayed all existing uses in the town. Each team had to negotiate a comprehensive plan for quality of life goals, explain the underlying policy choices made, reveal tensions that arose during negotiations, and field challenges to the plan. Each team negotiated the creation of zoning districts based on permitted, prohibited and conditional uses. Districts were drawn on a wall map of the mythical town. Each team explained the reasons for the location of each district and its uses, the tensions that arose in the negotiations, and fielded more questions and challenges from the community.
Using GIS to Support Community Organizing
In June 2004, Southern Echo held a 3-week residential training school on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) skills and tools for 3 Echo staff and representatives from 6 grassroots black organizations in Mississippi, half of whom were in their teens and twenties. Participants focused on building data tables and using them to create maps and charts through which community people can visualize complex data that usually appears in hard-to-read tables or lengthy texts full of technical language. The goal is to enable activists to use GIS to support organizing work. This is the first phase in a 4-year plan to train a cadre of activist demographers in Mississippi and the southern region. Later phases will focus on redistricting skills and tools. Participants formed the MS Demography Group (MDG) to pool their resources and obtain additional training in support of community organizing work in local communities.
Local Community Trainings
During 2004 Southern Echo has conducted or assisted local groups and other organizations to conduct a series of training sessions and workshops on the fundamentals of community organizing, strategic planning, organizational development, school finance and budgets as education policy, and shutting down the pipeline from schoolhouse to jailhouse. In the fall of 2004 Southern Echo will conduct workshops in 20 Mississippi counties in the Mississippi Delta on building a stakeholder alliance to dismantle the student achievement gap. In addition, Southern Echo will be conducting workshops in 7 other southern states on the fundamentals of community organizing and organizational development.
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Southern Echo, Inc.