Coro seeks to build networks of people who are committed to meaningful change in communities.
The Pittsburgh region’s economy has outperformed that of the nation as a whole throughout the recent recession. Despite our region’s remarkable transformation over the past thirty years, however, people and places have been left behind and Pittsburgh is not the ‘most livable city’ for everybody. In order to bounce back from economic decline, communities need more than financial resources and a strong market position. Communities need to nurture leadership and foster networks of civic engagement and trust. In communities that are highly engaged, connected, and trusting, people find jobs, start businesses, spread information, and solve problems with others much more easily than in communities where such connections are absent.
Coro seeks to build networks of people who are committed to meaningful change in communities and capable of shaping new practices that:
- Connect people to one another and build trust across silos of age, race and sector.
- Generate new narratives that build people’s confidence that they can get things done by working together.
- Enable people to manage conflicts in a productive way.
In the summer of 2015, Coro Pittsburgh launched a new strategic plan. The purpose of the plan is to sustain world class leadership training programs while realizing a deeper impact in economically vulnerable communities. We will take three actions in order to be more deliberate about who we recruit for Coro programs and where those individuals learn leadership skills:
- Emphasize multi-year partnerships in three economically vulnerable communities over the next five years: Wilkinsburg (began Aug 2014), McKees Rocks (began August 2015), Homewood (begin August 2016)
- Provide a wide variety of residents in partner communities–whether economic development professionals, educators, entrepreneurs, social workers, engineers, artists, or politicians– with access to the Coro training. Over multiple years of recruiting and training leaders, build a critical mass of citizens who can work together to accelerate the revitalization of the community.
- Challenge Coro Fellows and Public Allies to lead collaborative projects that benefit the partner communities.
In August 2015, Coro launched year two of our partnership with Wilkinsburg, a community of 15,000 residents on the eastern border of Pittsburgh. The long-term goal of our engagement is to help build leadership capacity in the community and to provide Coro leaders-in-training with a proving ground to apply their learning.
Below are updates on the impact that Coro has helped to create in partnership with the community:
Update of the 2010 Wilkinsburg Comprehensive Plan, September 2014 – May 2015
Coro Fellow Andrea Elcock was placed with the Wilkinsburg CDC, Hosannah House, and the Wilkinsburg Borough, where she interviewed over 100 people in an effort to update the status of the 2010 Wilkinsburg Comprehensive Plan. Andrea identified what had been accomplished in the past 5 years, what goals were no longer relevant, and what the top 10 priorities for action should be moving forward. Top priorities for future action include addressing disparities among youth and access to quality educational opportunities in the borough. For the full update go to http://wilkinsburgcdc.org/plans-reports/.
Establishing a Positive Behavioral Intervention System (PBIS) in the Wilkinsburg Public Schools, August 2015-present. Reporting directly to the Superintendent, Coro Fellow Nicolas Marlton is managing a leadership process to establish PBIS in Wilkinsburg Public Schools. He is leading a diverse group of school leaders, administrators, teachers, coaches,and behavioral specialists to move PBIS forward at the school level. Positive behavioral intervention is a system for addressing behavioral issues that focuses on acknowledging and rewarding acceptable behavior rather than punishing bad behavior. Placements: Wilkinsburg Public Schools, Allegheny Intermediate Unit.
Creating a Strategic Plan for Public Art, August 2015-present. Coro Fellow Alex Sandoval is managing a leadership process for establishing a strategic plan for public art that utilizes built and natural assets to make Wilkinsburg more attractive to residents, businesses and visitors. Sandoval is now working to create an outreach and marketing campaign for the borough. Placements: The Wilkinsburg Borough, Chamber of Commerce.
Engaging 16 residents of Wilkinsburg in Coro’s NEXT Neighborhood Leaders program. Oct 2015-Present. After 3 months of extensive, grassroots outreach, 16 diverse residents of Wilkinsburg have convened to become “NEXT Leaders” of Wilkinsburg. They are each participating in 96 hrs of training and earn Coro certificates before joining peer cohorts who support collaborative leadership activity in the community of Wilkinsburg. Meet the cohort on the NEXT Leaders pages of our website.
In August 2015, Coro kicked off our first year of partnership with “Sto Rox,” a community of nearly 1300 residents including the township of Stowe and borough of McKees Rocks. The long-term goal of our engagement is to help build leadership capacity in the community and to provide Coro leaders-in-training with a proving ground to apply their learning.
In this first year, Coro Fellows are learning skills in assessing community leadership capacity. They are interviewing dozens of community leaders, and have posted an online survey for residents, in Stowe and McKees Rocks to learn more about where the most promising initiatives are occurring to strengthen the community but also to understand barriers that stand in the way of further progress. In May 2016 Fellows will deliver a report to the community that will address these topics and identify the next generation of leaders in the community who Coro will invite to participate in our NEXT Neighborhood Leaders program beginning in the fall of 2016.
In addition to the leadership assessment group project, Coro Fellow Cameron Hunter is working with the McKees Rocks CDC, Focus on Renewal, and various other community organizations to build the Youth Partnership. Cameron is advancing work that was begun by Coro Fellow Ryann Tanap who launched the Youth Partnership in the spring of 2015. The Partnership formed after local youth organizations collectively decided that more needed to be done to facilitate collaboration among youth-oriented organizations and to thereby strengthen the voice of youth in the future of Sto Rox.
Fellows are engaging in various other activities to strengthen their ties to Sto Rox. On October 24th, they participated in Clean-Up Day in partnership with students from the University of Pittsburgh. On November 18th, they attended Jingle Bell Rocks to celebrate lower Chartier’s Avenue’s emerging downtown district. And on several occasions they have conducted multiple “neighborhood walks” to meet residents.
The Coro Fellows are helping to build a strong foundation for future engagement of Coro in Sto Rox. Coro’s next steps are to launch NEXT Neighborhood Leaders in Fall 2016 to begin building leadership capacity among residents. Check out our blog for updates.
Taris Vrcek, Executive Director at McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation (a Coro community partner) shares what he hopes to see accomplished by Next Neighborhood Leaders: Sto-Rox. Click the image below to watch the video
Since October 2015, a cohort of 13 Next Neighborhood Leaders have been working together in Wilkinsburg to build a strong community and incubate projects that improve the quality of life for everyone in the community. Katie Blackburn Katie is a program coordinator for...