Garland Yates went from a 17-year-old high-school dropout with few prospects to a respected community leader at 25. In this report, Yates provides a firsthand account of his observations on engaging community, developed through his experience as a senior associate at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, working with the Making Connections community in Denver. This report is part of “The Diarist Project” series of stories and reflections about the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Making Connections Initiative.
Nearly 3/4 of the paid Making Connections staff in Denver are current or former residents of the neighborhood being served.
More than 7,000 different people have been engaged in initiatives in the Denver Making Connections community.
Transforming Schools Together
When school principals and parents began collaborating on identifying problems and solutions, partnerships began to form that have evolved into the Transforming Schools Initiative.
Collaboration Increases Engagement
Getting organizers to collaborate led almost immediately to increased participation in key community events, from 50 or so people to 200 or more.
Story circles provided a way to connect neighbors with each other and forge important relationships.
Statements & Quotations
We need government, but anybody who thinks it can solve all of a community’s problems is like a client with himself as a lawyer: he’s just foolish. There needs to be a partnership of community and others to solve problems. The community should not be organized around a single point of view. There needs to be a framework for accountability that connects as many different kinds of activities and institutions and perspectives as possible.
You don’t start by committing yourself to unrealistic notions of what can be achieved. You take responsibility for achieving only what you can and right away start putting resources and decision-making into the hands of people.
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