We envision a world in which community challenges are addressed, not by individual leaders, but by collective leadership -- groups of local residents working together for sustainable change. Unlike conventional learning institutions, which may rely on traditional pedagogy, credentialed experts, and academic texts, the Community Learning Exchange views communities and people as the new instructors and texts for learning. It encourages community members to share actions, practices, ideas and outcomes with one another in environments that respect and value local wisdom.
For a summary of our work, our goals, and our accomplishments, please download our current Case Statement (PDF).
In 2008, eleven communities that had been working together for several years with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (in the Kellogg Leadership for Community Change initiative -- KLCC) launched the Community Learning Exchange as a way to spread community wisdom about collective leadership for community change to other communities across the United States. The first CLE was held in Texas in 2008. The Community Learning Exchange is a program of the Center for Ethical Leadership and partner communities. The CLE is supported by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
What is the Community Learning Exchange?
The CLE is a growing network that connects local communities, organizations and change agents across the U.S. through:
Learning Exchanges: The Community Learning Exchange provides an opportunity for community leaders from across the nation to come together for a weekend of deep learning. Together, we openly examine our challenges, freely exchange successful approaches, and become familiar with tools that can drive local change. The CLEs break the isolation people working on community change often feel. They provide time and space for deep conversations less possible in the busyness of daily schedules. Participants experience safety and trust where they can open up and deepen their relationships with fellow team members.
Online Networking Site: Face-to-face interactions are very important and that is why we host at least three in-person Learning Exchanges each year. However, most of us are unable to always meet face-to-face. This site is meant to enhance our ability to communicate, learn, share, and participate. You can become a member, create a profile, establish affinity or working groups, share information and resources, post events, videos, and photos, and interact with other community members through comments and direct messaging. The usefulness of the site relies on its members to share their gifts and wisdom with the community and engage in meaningful dialogue, the same way a thriving democracy relies on its constituents to be engaged in the process.
Thought Leader Gatherings: The CLE also hosts gatherings of leaders who have the ability to facilitate community change, teach others to do this work, formulate models that contain key elements, and use a variety of approaches to share their insights.
Healthy, just and inclusive communities.
To connect the wisdom and leadership of place.
Teams come from communities grappling with similar issues, cohort groups supported by various funder initiatives, and networks connected to specific social change issues. The topics for each learning exchange emerge from the interests of communities in the network and other groups wanting to become part of the network. We welcome participation from new funder initiatives, communities who want to break their isolation, and groups/networks working on specific change initiatives.
The original eleven communities include:
Big Creek People in Action in Caretta, West Virginia
Boys and Girls Club of Benton Harbor Michigan
Laguna Pueblo Department of Education and New Mexico Community Foundation in Laguna, New Mexico
Llano Grande Center for Research and Development in Edcouch/Elsa Texas
Lummi C.E.D.A.R. Project in Bellingham, Washington
Mi Casa Resource Center in Denver Colorado
Migizi Communications in Minneapolis Minnesota
New Paradigm Partners in Northern Wisconsin
Public Policy Education Fund and Citizen Action of New York in Buffalo New York
Roca Inc. in Chelsea, Massachusetts
Salish Kootenai College in Polson, Montana
Cheryl Fields, Langhum Mitchell Communications
Francisco Guajardo, Llano Grande Center and University of Texas, Pan American
Miguel Guajardo, Llano Grande Center and Texas State University San Marcos
Chris Janson, University of North Florida
Matt Militello, North Carolina State University
Dale Nienow, Center for Ethical Leadership
Kwesi Rollins, Institute for Educational Leadership
Steve Stapleton, Center for Ethical Leadership
The Community Learning Exchange has been launched by generous support from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.
Email Dale Nienow
Center for Ethical Leadership
1401 E. Jefferson, Suite 505
Seattle, Washington 98122