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Spartanburg’s Highland neighborhood gets leadership training program

Mary Thomas

Mary Thomas, COO of the Spartanburg County Foundation, introducing the Highland Neighborhood Leadership Institute during a Highland Neighborhood Association meeting on Sept. 22. The nine-month program has eight training sessions and gives people the skills and tools to address changes they’d like to see in the Highland neighborhood. Asia Rollins/Staff

Spartanburg community leaders have created a training initiative focused on transforming the Highland neighborhood.

During a Highland Neighborhood Assassination Meeting on Sept. 22, Spartanburg County Foundation and the City of Spartanburg introduced a nine-month training program called the Highland Neighborhood Leadership Institute. The program is set to officially launch in early February and is modeled after Spartanburg County Foundation’s Grassroots Leadership Development Institute.

“We are really aiming for a cohort of between 10 to 12 because that allows an opportunity for individuals to build relationships, build community and really focus on the issues they care about,” said Mary Thomas, COO of the Spartanburg County Foundation.

The Highland Neighborhood Leadership Institute is a free program intended to give people leadership skills and tools to deal with issues that are unique to their neighborhood. Those who are interested in the program must live, work or play in the Highland neighborhood and have a passion for community change.

Participants will go through eight training sessions and meet once a month on Saturdays. Facilitators from various organizations within the county will train participants. Those involved will go through training and collaborate on community projects.

There are training sessions related to poverty, economic mobility, education, investing into youth, housing, crime, transportation, marketing and redevelopment opportunities. Participants will work on a final capstone project that addresses an issue impacting quality of life in the Highland neighborhood.

“The curriculum is going to be very fluid, but it's going to be driven by data, lived experiences and best practices that we hope will work for the neighborhood,” Thomas said.

Applications are due by Oct. 31 and can be picked up at The Bethlehem Center at 397 Highland Ave.

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Follow Asia Rollins on Twitter at @asiarollins98.