Cameron Hunter had never been to Pittsburgh, let alone McKees Rocks.
Last spring was his first time, in fact. He was here for as a hopeful applicant for a fellowship with Coro Pittsburgh, a leadership development program.
Coro Pittsburgh has been around since the late 90’s and has seen nearly 2,000 individuals through its program in the realms of nonprofit, business, government, education and philanthropy.
Last year, Coro Pittsburgh upped their game by devising a new approach to their vision of an inclusive community where people of all backgrounds and circumstances participate in making their communities more livable for everyone. Coro fellows would now be dedicated to working in committed neighborhoods including Homewood, Wilkinsburg, and McKees Rocks.
“The idea of engaging with the same residents all year round was attractive to me,” he said, adding that it gave an interpersonal touch to the work of the fellowship program, as well as help to build common ground between the fellows and the community in which the program was operating.
Once accepted into the program as a fellow, Cameron was asked to help develop MRCDC’s Youth Partnership, which had been established the previous year through the Fellowship program. His role is to connect resources and organizations devoted to helping youth in Sto Rox as well as to establish communication with one another.
“How are 20 organizations that are already spread thinly going to make a difference as one body?” Cameron asked. “How am I, fresh out of undergrad, going to tell people with 25 years experience in this field and who know the community better, what to do?”
Cameron soon created activities that were geared towards gathering the Partnership’s different ideas and objectives that helped determine the goals and mission of the group.
After a few sessions came the formation of an eight member steering committee for the Youth Partnership whose purpose is to define the strategic plan which the larger body will then carry out.
The Youth Partnership is just one way that Coro Pittsburgh is strengthening communities like Sto Rox. In Wilkinsburg, a cohort of 15-20 Next Community Leaders, a Coro Pittsburgh initiative, was formed of folks living and working in the neighborhood. Despite various social backgrounds, these Coro NEXT Leaders have come together with the common desire to better Wilkinsburg. They meet once a week on a volunteer basis and are provided dinner by Coro.
Cameron thinks Sto Rox community will benefit from the NEXT Leaders program, too.
“It’s a supplement to the fellows program and because fellows change on a yearly basis, Coro NEXT Leaders creates a continuous space to help connect individuals who want to see change in their community.”
He added that there tends to be a disconnect between formal government bodies and residents. Coro’s NEXT Leaders offers residents a different way to engage in their community.
The Next Neighborhood program is for people living/working/hoping to make a difference in Sto-Rox, beginning in October 2016, occurring one evening per week.
By participating in NEXT Leaders, you will:
- Get to know others who are passionate about making positive change in your community
- Explore challenges and opportunities facing your community
- Receive mentoring and support while taking action to create positive community change
- Learn to build strong teams by leveraging people’s strengths
- Hone your skills in group facilitation
If you’re interested in becoming a next generation change maker and the NEXT Leaders program, please contact Maribeth Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 412.331.9900.