The Community Learning Partnership (CLP) is a national model focused on building a workforce of credentialed, knowledgeable, and skilled leaders to lead and organize for change in their local communities. The Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) is leading the CLP effort in Chicago as there has never been a program like this offered in the city. There are three components to CLP: classroom learning, an internship, and coaching/mentoring. Recently, CLP participants were connected to their mentors.
Sherri Miles, a Parent Mentor Organizer for SWOP, is a participant in the CLP program and shared her experience . “The program has felt like a deeper dive into what community organizing is. Understanding the nuances and intricacies of what community organizing can look like when approaching different initiatives or campaigns. It was something I felt like I understood, but it has shown me what it looks like when all the pieces are put together.” Sherri further shared other techniques that they went over such as understanding a power analysis, talking with media, how to build a campaign and how to coordinate with others to build out actionable efforts.
When asked about how the mentorship experience has been going, Sherri shared this: “The way things started out in even just choosing our mentors was interesting. We filled out a survey so that we could be paired with someone we would feel most comfortable in connecting with and who would best be able to guide us with their wealth of knowledge.” While staying away from specifics so as not to intrude on their mentor and mentee relationship, Sherri shared that she was partnered with Jennifer McClain from the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC). “Being able to meet with Jennifer and just connecting to understand how she got to where she is put so much into perspective. She’s accomplished so much and I’m honestly grateful to have been able to have a mentor who has done as much organizing as she has.” Sherri continued. “With this being the first time they are bringing this class together in Chicago, it makes everything we’re doing here that much more important. Understanding that the issues in Chicago Lawn are not the same issues as Gage Park or anywhere else in Chicago and this class gives you an idea of how to analyze each community and attend to their needs specifically rather than just grouping all of them together.”
In Sherri’s final statement, she had this to say: “I have been organizing for a while now, but with this program I feel as though I can walk away from this experience an even better community organizer and with all of the resources Jennifer has given me to look into, I feel like I have so much to do going forward.”