The Hispanic Alliance is strategically focused on developing the next generation of leadership from within the Hispanic Community, and one of the forms this may take is an increased passion for grassroots initiatives. The Grassroots Leadership Development Program (GDLP), an initiative of United Way of Greenville County, is well known creating a pipeline of educated and empowered residents to initiate positive social change in the community. Our own HA AmeriCorps VISTA, Lindsey Tabor, just graduated from the program along with a diverse class of 17 blooming leaders from Greenville neighborhoods – but the class is still not fully representing all important perspectives of Greenville residents. Lindsey emerged from this experience with an increased passion for engaging Hispanic leaders and residents of Greenville in this opportunity.
The term grassroots was reportedly first coined in 1912 by Senator Albert Jeremiah Beveridge of Indiana to describe his Progressive Party: "This party has come from the grass roots. It has grown from the soil of people's hard necessities. ”Grassroots movements utilize the people of a district or community as the basis for its work, mobilizing collective action at the local level to create change at many different levels of governance. It is a “bottom-up” approach, which requires that individuals take responsibility of problems and act to benefit their community. Though each movement is unique and has agendas specific to the needs of its locality, the broad result is a stronger participatory democracy and greater public attention to regional concerns. (Wikipedia, “Grassroots,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grassroots#cite_note-4)
We are lucky in Greenville to have a working model of grassroots organization and leadership that is open to anyone. Greenville Dreams is a coalition of neighborhood and community leaders organized to empower residents to improve their neighborhoods through leadership development while leveraging available resources. It works in partnership with United Way of Greenville County, the City of Greenville, and the Greenville County Redevelopment Authority to create positive change in Greenville neighborhoods through resident initiatives. The Grassroots Leadership Development Program (GDLP) was designed to equip motivated residents with the leadership tools, and to enrich and supplement the membership of Greenville Dreams. Lindsey plans to merge her knowledge from the GLDP with her work in the Hispanic community to help bring their voice to the Greenville Dreams table in collaboration for a unified and prosperous community.
It is up to those with pre-existing connections and resources in the Hispanic community to inform into our potential community and civic leaders of these opportunities. They are the seeds of the Grassroots change in Greenville.
Please encourage the bright lights in your community to apply for the 2019 class beginning in February! Click here to download the GLDP application and class schedule. See the Greenville Dreams landing page for more information and a meeting schedule.