Minnesota's population became much more diverse from 1970 to 2000, but over that time most of the people working in development in communities of color had one thing in common: They were white.
People from within those communities could use a leg up to join and diversify the local professional-development ranks. That was the impetus behind a yearlong training program that Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC)
began in 1997. Since then 110 developers have graduated from the Careership program, with as many as three-quarters going on to work in the field of community development.
This year, 12 people are taking part in the program; as many as 70 apply annually. They earn a stipend $12,000 while putting in 15 hours each week at a sponsoring organizatio --usually a nonprofit but sometimes a government agency or a for-profit developer. There, and at monthly seminars and consultations with an executive coach, they learn the ropes of building community through development work.
For about 35 percent of the participants, that development work is the bricks-and-mortar sort, says senior program officer Barbara Jeanetta. Housing and commercial development has remained a core activity for students and graduates of the program. But people from communities of color and immigrant groups understood that "it was not just about physical development," Jeanetta says. "They innately knew it was much more integrated." That means that many work on building more intangible kinds of community assets--employee training, youth development, and home-buying, for example.
Careership is especially helpful for people who lack a college degree and have "spotty" work records due to time spent caring for a parent or child, Jeanetta says. These people often don't have a professional network, but they start to build one over their year at the Careership program.
Source: Barbara Jeanetta, LISC
Writer: Chris Steller