If you happened to be at Penn Station on Sunday August 19th, you would have been surrounded by neighborhood advocates eagerly awaiting the Amtrak train to the NeighborWorks Training Institute (NTI) in Philadelphia.
An NTI is an opportunity to take courses, learn from organizations and community leaders from around the country and network. Funders in Baltimore and beyond invested in our communities by providing scholarships to cover conference costs for participants. The five NTI participants interviewed below received support from Wells Fargo, Goldseker Foundation, The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, and NeighborWorks. Here's what they have to say about their experiences:
"I think what stood out for me most was that developing youth and organizing them to help within the community can really help to solve a lot of the other issues/problems within the community. Another thing was to keep programs going throughout the year to organize members; the worst thing you can do is stop during the cold months...it ruins the momentum that you've created during the spring, summer, and fall."
Jacqueline Caldwell, President
"It was great to be around people who truly have a heart- we are committed to making a positive change in our community...
I learned that I am not alone when it comes to the need for operating support and positive collaborations."
"I gained more awareness of the various functions of my department and appreciation for others. When I came back to the office I told Bill [Director of Rental Services] how much I appreciated all of the responsibility he held as the Director, ...and the maintenance staff too, there job is so important to what we do."
Dr. Frank Lance,Treasurer,
"Two of the three courses I took changed what I do daily. The first, Engaging Universities within your Community was most helpful as I have both Coppin and BCCC in Greater Mondawmin. The course materials have helped me to open doors and see possibilities I did not approach well before."
Tiffany Welch, MSW, Healthy Food Access and Food Justice Organizer,
"There are so many agencies around the country that are trying to strengthen communities and increase resident involvement, whether in whole communities or housing districts. The main take away for me was to have an effective communication platform. No Boundaries is not a service delivery organization like many of the participants at NTI; we are an advocacy group. It is crucial for our organization to clearly disseminate our messages and work, not only to sustain ourselves but also to grow."
Tiffany is second from the left, the course instructor is standing.