A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Center for Great Neighborhoods provides opportunities to lead, help shape policy, fill needs

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series the Center for Great Neighborhoods will roll out this fall to raise awareness for the different ways it works to create positive change in Covington.

Providing Opportunities to Lead 

Take a moment to picture your neighborhood. Picture the people in it who you would say make it a better place to live.

Do you have a neighbor who throws an annual holiday block party? Someone who keeps an eye out for other neighbors? A community member who knocks on doors to hand out event flyers or neighborhood improvement surveys?

Picture any one of these neighbors who share their gifts and talents freely to improve your community.

These people are who the Center for Great Neighborhoods refers to as community leaders. It believes that resident leaders are at the core of a thriving community.

It also beleves that every community member has talents and ideas that will improve their community, they just need the right opportunity to do so. At the Center for Great Neighborhoods, it is their job to help find and create those opportunities.

An Opportunity to Shape a Neighborhood Park: 

Recently, the Center for Great Neighborhoods partnered with the City to implement a series of creative engagement strategies aimed at reaching people where they are to hear their visions for the future of Barb Cook Park in Latonia.

One such strategy was to work closely with the Latonia Terrace residents committee to tap into the opinions and ideas of the residents who live closest to the park, who use it the most often, and whose voices may not typically be represented by more traditional engagement opportunities. 

Volunteers stepped up and became ambassadors for the project. They knocked on neighbors’ doors, visited the park on evenings and weekends during basketball games or play dates, and they helped plan a party in the park, all with the goal of reaching as many neighbors as possible to hear about visions for improving their park.

Because of their leadership, CGN heard from hundreds of additional residents who were not going to respond to an online survey or attend a meeting at City Hall.

An Opportunity to Fulfill a Community Need: 

In the spring of 2019, a lifelong resident of Covington’s Eastside neighborhood came to the Center with an idea to hold an event focused on art and kids.

He applied for CGN’s first cohort of Covington Leads: a 13-week program designed to give Covington residents an opportunity to grow leadership skills while creating a project, program, or event that will improve or enhance their neighborhood.

In Covington Leads, participants are given a budget of $500 to complete a project. In the first few weeks of the program, participants spend time exploring their neighborhood and interviewing their neighbors to find out what assets exist and what opportunities are needed. In this time, he realized that what many kids in his neighborhood really needed was a financial education – how to budget, write checks, manage money, and even just have a bank account. In the coming weeks, he worked alongside The Center staff to create a one-day event for 10 teens to learn these skills. And at the end of the day, the teens would create a savings account and would be given $25 for their first deposit.

He completed the Covington Leads program, proud of his accomplishment, confident in his new skills, and ready to expand his project. He is already planning his next life-skills class for youth with a Nano Grant from The Center.

Everyone who has contributed to a positive community change can tell you, that they did so because someone made a connection for them, provided them with access to a resource, or gave them the opportunity for their opinions to be heard.

For many residents of Covington, that ‘someone’ was The Center for Great Neighborhoods which is committed to helping residents do everything in their power to make their neighborhood a place in which they can take pride.

If you believe in helping to continue to make Covington a place where everyone can contribute, please consider supporting The Center and its work today.

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