The Community Learning Partnership (CLP) is a national model focused on building a workforce of credentialed, knowledgeable, and skilled leaders to organize and lead change in their communities. With the CLP program having its first ever appearance in Chicago, the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) took on the leading role in getting it off the ground here. The program is undertaking a deep exploration of Community Organizing and Community Development. Joel Rodriguez, a SWOP community organizer, led the first part of the program, guiding the eager students through the Community Organizing portion. After a brief break, the Community Development portion is underway as of January 23rd, 2024, led by James Rudyk, former executive director at Northwest Center.
In the Community Development part of the program, students will explore the interrelationship between community organizing and community development, including strategies for community planning and for creating community-based housing; economic and business development projects; how indigenous culture impacts communities, including opportunities for students to reflect upon their own cultural experience in the broader community; and, strategies for helping indigenous communities influence public and private sector development plans and investments to increase their benefit to low-income communities.
The first session of class saw the students reacclimating themselves with one another as well as their new instructor before going over expectations for the class and each other. Though the class has only just begun, the excitement of being back in the classroom was palpable as each participant had a chance to share what they looked forward to learning and their impression of the first part of the program.
One participant shared this regarding their experience from the previous class and the upcoming session “CLP has allowed me to be open, participate and accept myself for how I am. The work I’ve done does not define me as a leader because I’ve always been part of a group/community led by teamwork. It’s hard to set myself aside and see what I took on in that journey, but I know sharing this knowledge and trying to understand all that was new to me in this program shows how dedicated I am to learning and growing in this work. Connecting with everyone in the internship and asking them if they’d want to speak over coffee and hearing their excitement is also part of growing in my communication skills and doing grassroots/transformational work.”