Alfredo Dominguez and Tarin Denney, Hometown Fellows '19
Lead For America recognizes that building strong communities requires overcoming huge challenges. Communities and neighborhoods that were once thriving are shrinking, and fighting for economic survival. From community town halls to our dinner table, political divisiveness is tearing us apart and keeping communities from making necessary changes to address local challenges. If we hope to change these trends, we must think creatively about solving these challenges and offer solutions that bring people together.
Alongside the LFA Hometown Fellowship, Lead For America is starting, supporting, and investing in efforts that offer bold solutions to the problems we see at the local and national level. Have an idea of how you can collaborate with Lead For America? Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org and a member of our team will reach out!
LFA Dodge City Community Engagement Coordinator Kate Schieferecke hosting a StoryCorps mobile recording studio
The Lyceum Movement hosting a gathering at the Lead For America Friendship House in Dodge City, KS
While we are already seeing the incredible impact even a single Fellow can have on a community through their Fellowship, we also recognize that reaching a tipping point of impact––or building a palpable sense of momentum for the community––will require more.
LFA demonstration communities are hyper local, community-wide initiatives designed to comprehensively cultivate civic health and civic leadership capacity at every level. Efforts focus on cultivating local human talent and a culture of neighborliness through programs and events customized to each community. This includes bringing existing LFA initiatives to the community such as the Fellowship, Lyceum Movement, and LFA Education Initiatives.
The current LFA demonstration communities include Dodge City, KS and Waseca, MN. The long-term vision for LFA demonstration communities is to build best practices for fostering civic health that can be shared with other communities, eventually building out a network committed to fostering civic health in every corner of this country.
The Lyceum Movement
The Lyceum Movement is an initiative based out of Des Moines, Iowa, sponsored by Lead for America. The mission of the Lyceum Movement is to build meaningful communities by providing a space for neighbors to learn together in friendship. The Lyceum offers classes, events, and a shared space to explore great ideas, great deeds, great art, and the questions that affect our life together. In so doing, it seeks to shape citizens and communities well-formed in self-government for the common good.
The conviction of the Lyceum Movement is that the trust and understanding, as well as the moral and intellectual conversation, that comes from learning together with our neighbors is a prerequisite to organizing our communities for human flourishing. Today, the Lyceum Movement is present in Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, and Missouri. The Lyceum Movement aims to spread the centers of community thinking and conversation to communities across the country, providing a space for neighbors to build friendships, solve problems, learn and pursue wisdom together.
Trevaughn Latimer, Hometown Fellow '19
The Lyceum Movement hosting a community discussion in Des Moines, IA
Building community leaders nationwide begins within our education system. Lead For America’s focus on education rests upon the reality that meaningful civics education and engagement is critical to cultivating adept, informed, and intentional leaders.
Currently, our education initiative — GovChallenge — focuses on building partnerships between leaders and public institutions to get young talent working on challenging problems at the local level.
— Fatima Taj, Summer Fellow
"GovChallenge is a call for us to think creatively. It is refreshing to be challenged to think and engage my creative mental-muscle. It gave me the opportunity to take initiative to identify and offer a solution to a grand problem."
— Priscilla Heaton, GovChallenge
Priscilla Heaton, GovChallenge '19
“The challenge was enriching because I was able to work with some fantastic people and put forth a solution that was comprehensive, innovative, and forward-looking…Although we placed second in the competition, I feel closer to the community since working on this challenge, and I am grateful for the bonds I have forged with my colleagues.”
LFA University Chapter System & GovChallenge
The Chapter System:
LFA’s newest arm, the College Chapter System, is focused on furthering LFA's goal of providing pathways for aspiring civic leaders to create impact in the communities that they call home. The College Chapter System is specifically designed to provide these opportunities for undergraduate students who are passionate about their communities, who are dedicated to making positive change, and who are willing to organize in their original or adoptive home to make an impact. An interest in a future career in public service is a plus!
What You’ll Be Doing:
Chapter Founders for LFA’s College Chapter System will spearhead the launch of a student organization on their college campus focused on civic-engagement and will serve as President during the first year of the organization's tenure. In founding the student organization on campus, Chapter Founders will recruit members and an officer board, and conduct informational interviews with local community leaders to learn about the most challenging issues facing their local communities.
The Chapter Founder, along with the officer board and general body, will then design and launch entrepreneurial initiatives to engage with community leaders on local causes and issues. Sample initiatives, including our flagship GovChallenge case competition, are described below. Chapter Founders will receive access to the resources of the broader LFA community, and successful Founders are eligible for an accelerated interview process for LFA's Hometown Fellowship Program following their graduation.
— Sean O'Brien, GovChallenge
As an organization that provides opportunities for our AmeriCorps Fellows to serve in the communities they come from, Lead For America is committed to advocate and support expanded and enhanced AmeriCorps benefits in order to make AmeriCorps service stronger and more accessible.
LFA advocates for making service resources more accessible to organizations especially those in communities with fewer resources. Additionally, LFA advocates to include community-centered service opportunities and the fostering of homegrown leadership as a dedicated priority for AmeriCorps funding in annual appropriations legislation language.
The House passed the Build Back Better legislation that includes major enhancements to AmeriCorps benefits and is now pending in the Senate. LFA continues to engage Congress to encourage passage of this game-changing legislation.