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Projects

Sample Projects – Leadership Training

City of Lincoln-Urban Development Department
The Heartland Center worked with the city of Lincoln to identify and recruit a diverse group of business and neighborhood leaders for the North 27th Street development process. This major city corridor is adjacent to lower income and racially diverse neighborhoods. Our services included the formation and organization of a new Business and Civic Association, a series of leadership training workshops and facilitation of strategic work sessions for neighborhood improvement. Throughout the program we also disseminated an area newsletter printed in Spanish, Vietnamese and English.

Hobbs Leadership Council
In Hobbs, New Mexico, we facilitated an 18-month program that built a coalition of diverse leadership teams addressing social and economic challenges facing their community of 30,000. The Heartland Center delivered leadership training and facilitated visioning and strategic planning sessions. The program resulted in the implementation of five community improvement programs and culminated in a community-wide forum featuring Martin Luther King III as keynote speaker. Following the forum, the Center facilitated strategy sessions involving 160 youth and adult leaders working together to increase racial harmony.

Community Leadership for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines
The goal of this training program is to strengthen the leadership skills and build collaborative relationships among rural bankers and other rural community leaders. Curriculum focuses on understanding the role of leadership in community success and developing a strategic outlook and facilitation skills. During its first year, the program served more than 200 leaders in 67 different communities. In its second year, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines, Iowa, sponsored a series of two-day training events for regional members in Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Missouri.

Great Neighborhoods!
Thirty-seven people from 17 Lincoln, Nebraska, neighborhoods made up the first graduating class of “Great Neighborhoods!”- a training program to increase the capacity of neighborhood associations and their leaders. The program is the first of its kind for the city, which is the Heartland Center’s home base. Workshops covered key areas such as fundraising, managing conflict, project management, influencing public policy and leadership styles. The sessions were held on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings once a month from September through December. Participants gave the trainers and the materials extremely high marks, and most indicated that they would have appreciated even more time in class.

Leadership for Community Survival
The Center facilitated one-day training programs for civic, community and organizational leaders who wanted to play a positive role in their communities’ future. This multi-year program was funded through the Union Pacific Foundation. Each year, three communities were selected for the program on the basis of their location along Union Pacific rail lines. The program was delivered in 14 states with 720 participants. A similar program sponsored by KN Energy – Community Leadership for the ’90s – was conducted in communities throughout Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming during the late 1990s.

 


Sample Projects – Curriculum Development

Tribal Economic Development

With support from the Economic Development Administration, the Heartland Center, in conjunction with the United Tribes Technical College (UTTC), developed a training program in sustainable economic development for tribal planners within the Economic Development Administration (EDA) Denver region, which encompasses North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri.

The curriculum is based on applied fieldwork in four reservation communities — Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians of North Dakota; the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota; the Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead reservation in Montana; and the Wind River Reservation (Northern Arapahoe and Eastern Shoshone) in Wyoming. This training program, which debuted in April 2006, included materials that describe sustainable economic development successes and best practices among tribes in the region, which were incorporated into a list of 25 characteristics of sustainable economic development found on reservations. These materials track tribal enterprise development projects and reservation-based entrepreneurship support programs.

Great Neighborhoods!
Thirty-seven people from 17 Lincoln, Nebraska, neighborhoods made up the first graduating class of “Great Neighborhoods!”- a training program to increase the capacity of neighborhood associations and their leaders. The program is the first of its kind for the city, which is the Heartland Center’s home base. Workshops covered key areas such as fundraising, managing conflict, project management, influencing public policy and leadership styles. In 2006, the program celebrated its fifth year.

Helping Small Towns Succeed

Now in its 16th year, Helping Small Towns Succeed offers community development professionals and practitioners the basic skills to manage the hard but rewarding work of community building. The Heartland Center is recognized internationally as one of the premier trainers in the rural community development field. Current curriculum agenda:

  • New approaches to leadership development
  • Diversity as an economic development opportunity
  • Appreciative Inquiry as the newest tool for community planning
  • Six building blocks of community development and measurement
  • Building Social Capital
  • Clues to Rural Community Survival

This year, the Institute will be held October 21-23 in Billings, Montana.

 


Sample Projects – Community Development

The Ford Community Leadership Training Program
More than 50 hours of community and leadership development training exercises are included in this curriculum designed for the Ford Family Foundation in Oregon. The program includes sessions on communications, working in groups, effective meetings, building citizen participation, action planning, fund raising, project management and more. It is being delivered to rural communities across the state.

Citizen Involvement and Recruiting New Leaders: Schuyler, Nebraska
The Heartland Center facilitated a series of community workshops in Schuyler, Nebraska, population 4,100. After a large beef-packing plant opened with an employment of approximately 1,600 people, the town’s ethnicity changed dramatically. Now 70 percent of the elementary school system is comprised of children from Latino families. The Heartland Center worked with the Chamber of Commerce to design and deliver a series of strategic work sessions led by bilingual Latino and Anglo Heartland Center trainers. Nearly 80 community leaders participated, with proportional representation of the Latino citizens. Following the workshop series, the Chamber of Commerce partnered with other organizations to revamp its comprehensive plan to include building on diversity as a strategic opportunity.

Energizing Entrepreneurship in Rural America
In this program the Heartland Center identifies and describes different kinds of support a community can provide from within its own set of resources that encourage the development of local entrepreneurship. We also explore how these communities are preventing “brain drain” by helping their most promising young citizens create future opportunities close to home. The training curriculum and accompanying educational materials teach rural community leaders how to replicate the success stories they learn about.

Strengthening the Rural-Urban Connection
The goal of this multi-year program is to create a framework for distinct sectors to cross their rural/urban boundaries in a search for solutions to the common problems facing inner city and rural communities. The program has resulted in collaborative projects involving dozens of community development organizations, corporate leaders, government agencies, private foundations, educators and policy specialists. Projects and rural-urban leadership institutes have been facilitated in Oregon, Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, New York, Maine, Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

How to Get the Help Your Town Needs
Funding from the Ford Foundation enabled the Heartland Center to develop and deliver this workshop series for 750 development practitioners in 13 states. The goal of the program was to teach communities how to be smart consumers of community development resources, including regional, state and federal agencies. The series earned the Innovative Program of the Year award in 1998 from the Community Development Society.

 


Sample Projects – Neighborhood Training

Empowering Neighborhood People
From 1994-2000 the Heartland Center worked with more than 300 people living in 19 low-income neighborhoods in Washington, DC. The program, Empowering Neighborhood People (ENP), was a joint project with Johns Hopkins University.

Following the conclusion of the program, a mail survey and follow-up phone interviews were used to determine if the capacity developed during the yearlong course of leadership workshops, action planning and project implementation remains today, how it affects current neighborhood improvement efforts, and any other lasting impacts that might be detected through survey methodology.

The written survey indicated that 100% of our ENP respondents felt that their experience was either “very valuable” or “somewhat valuable.” Today, ENP participants continue to use their acquired skills and knowledge in a rich array of community development work. Martha Raycene Woodland credits ENP with teaching her how to run effective meetings. After her ENP team conducted a series of public neighborhood forums on topics such as rodent eradication and neighborhood beautification, Martha went on to become an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for Area 5C11. Additional projects and activities led by other ENP graduates include addressing drug dealer problems, working with the City Council on small business development, organizing holiday events, sidewalk repair, community gardens, beautification and many others.

Great Neighborhoods!
“Great Neighborhoods” is a leadership-training program targeting low-income neighborhoods in Lincoln, Nebraska. Thirty-seven people from 17 neighborhood associations made up the first graduating class of Great Neighborhoods! The goal of the training program is to increase the capacity of associations and their leaders. The program is the first of its kind for the city, which is the Heartland Center’s home base.

Leadership workshops covering eight key areas were held on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings once a month from September through December. Participants gave the trainers and the materials extremely high marks, and most indicated that they would have appreciated more time in class. Great Neighborhoods! is a collaborative effort between the Heartland Center, the Urban Development Department and Neighborhoods, Inc.

North 27th Street Redevelopment
In partnership with Lincoln, Nebraska’s Urban Development Department, the Heartland Center delivered a summer-long series of leadership development workshops within Lincoln’s most low income neighborhoods, which are highly diverse, and home to our most recent immigrant citizens. Throughout the program we disseminated an area newsletter printed in Spanish, Vietnamese, and English. The Center also facilitated the formation of a new North 27th Street Business and Civic Association, which won Lincoln’s “Business Leadership Award” in 2002.

Hobbs Leadership Council
The Heartland Center facilitated an 18-month program funded by the Maddox Foundation of Hobbs, New Mexico, to build a coalition of diverse community leadership teams to address social and economic challenges facing their community. The Heartland Center delivered leadership training programs, visioning sessions, and facilitated the development of strategic plans for community improvement projects. The program resulted in the implementation of five community improvement programs, and culminated in a community-wide forum featuring Martin Luther King III as keynote speaker. Following the forum, the Center facilitated strategy sessions involving 160 youth and adult leaders working together to increase racial harmony.

 


Sample Projects – Facilitation

Visions from the Heartland
One of the Center’s early projects was at the request of the Governor’s Policy Research Office. It involved convening and facilitating more than 2,000 corporate, community and educational leaders from across the state to advance policies that would encourage sustainable development into the 21st century. This multi-year program resulted in the introduction of more than 150 legislative bills on economic growth, education and the environment.

Stevens Creek Basin Planning Initiative
When progress was stalled and group fragmentation was threatening, the Lincoln-Lancaster County, Nebraska, Planning Department retained the Heartland Center to intervene and facilitate a diverse 17-member citizen task force. The group was appointed to create planning guidelines for future watershed development. The partially developed watershed comprises 54 square miles located immediately east of the city’s existing municipal limits. The group represented opposing interests in land ownership, historic preservation, development and conservation. The Center developed working agendas for all meetings, facilitated focused discussion and dialogue, produced working materials and printed documents, and moderated public forums for citizen participation. After initial adversity, the group became a cohesive working unit and, after eight months, completed its assignments on schedule. At the conclusion of this project, the Center assisted with writing the Planning Guidelines and Summary Report, which were submitted to the City-County Planning Commission and accepted for consideration in comprehensive plan development.

“Dakota Dreams” – Northwest Venture Communities, Inc.
In 2003 the Heartland Center completed a yearlong capacity building and strategic planning project for eight counties and the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota. More than 600 community members participated in leadership training and community visioning and goal-setting sessions. The Center facilitated and coached task force teams as they actively gathered and organized data on eight key areas related to economic development and the reduction of regional poverty.

Leadership for Better Schools
This program brought together five Iowa school districts to help them address their need for improved learning and better schools. The Heartland Center provided technical assistance for a series of work sessions and public dialogues on key educational issues and policy initiatives that would lead to educational reform in these districts. In addition, the Center developed a guidebook on community-school collaboration for the New Iowa Schools Development Corporation.

Mayor’s Floodplain Task Force
The City of Lincoln’s Public Works Department engaged the Heartland Center to facilitate a citizen task force in the development of permanent floodplain standards. The Center served as a neutral facilitator for a diverse citizen group representing landowners, real estate developers, conservationists, city government and regulatory agencies. The Center assisted the city and the Natural Resource District to design and execute methodology, facilitate meaningful exchange of ideas, identify areas of interest, develop informational presentations and materials, and monitor and evaluate progress.

Standing Bear Lake Water Management Program
The City of Omaha Parks, Recreation and Public Property funded this strategic planning process to develop a community-based watershed management plan for this 137-surface acre lake on the northwest edge of Omaha, Nebraska. The Heartland Center, in partnership with Olsson Environmental Sciences, Inc., served as planning process facilitators. Among concerns of neighborhood residents and city officials were water quality protection for the support of recreational and aesthetic uses, and maintenance of aquatic life quality as the area undergoes transformation from rural to urban. The Heartland Center conducted a survey of watershed residents, facilitated a series of public meetings, analyzed results, and wrote the final report reflecting the strategic planning process.

Environmental Protection Agency, Kansas City Regional Office
The Heartland Center facilitated community stakeholder meetings in Omaha on lead poisoning concerns among children in older neighborhoods. The meetings were designed to seek community consensus on a strategy for dealing with concerns, most of which stem from lead-based paint in older buildings.

 


Sample Projects – Public Participation

Stevens Creek Basin Planning Initiative

In September 2000, the Lincoln-Lancaster Planning Department retained the services of the Heartland Center to facilitate a diverse 17-member citizen task force. The group was appointed to create planning guidelines for future watershed development. The partially developed watershed comprises 54 square miles located immediately east of the city’s existing municipal limits. The group represented opposing interests in land ownership, historic preservation, development and conservation. The Center developed working agendas for all meetings, facilitated focused discussion and dialogue, produced working materials and printed documents, and moderated public forums for citizen participation. After initial adversity, the group became a cohesive working unit and, after eight months, completed its assignments on schedule.  At the conclusion of this project, the Center assisted with writing the Planning Guidelines and Summary Report, which were submitted to the City-County Planning Commission and accepted for consideration in comprehensive plan development.

Mayor’s Floodplain Task Force

In October 2001, the Heartland Center worked with the City of Lincoln’s Public Works Department to facilitate a citizen task force in the development of permanent floodplain standards. The Center served as a neutral facilitator for a diverse citizen group representing landowners, real estate developers, conservationists, city government and regulatory agencies.  The Center is assisting the city and the Natural Resource District to design and execute methodology, facilitate meaningful exchange of ideas, identify areas of interest, develop informational presentations and materials, and monitor and evaluate progress.

Watershed Management Plan for Zorinsky Lake

The Heartland Center facilitated all public meetings throughout the citizen participation process for the development of a watershed management plan for this city of Omaha public works project. The effort was based on the involvement of watershed residents, agricultural producers, businesses, lake and recreation area users, developers and construction related businesses. These stakeholders, together with the technical advisory team, identified goals, management alternatives, action plans and projects that are designed to protect the water quality of Zorinsky Lake. The Heartland Center also produced the final document of the plan.

Standing Bear Lake Water Management Program

This strategic planning process was funded by the City of Omaha Parks, Recreation and Public Property to develop a community-based watershed management plan for this 137-surface acre lake on the northwest edge of Omaha, Nebraska. The Heartland Center, in partnership with Olsson Environmental Sciences, Inc., served as planning process facilitators. Among concerns of neighborhood residents and city officials were water quality protection for the support of recreational and aesthetic uses, and maintenance of aquatic life quality as the area undergoes transformation from rural to urban. The Heartland Center conducted a survey of watershed residents, facilitated a series of public meetings, analyzed results, and wrote the final report reflecting the strategic planning process.

Sarpy County Dam Site 21

The Heartland Center designed and conducted the citizen participation activities within the planning process for this watershed resource located near Papillion, Nebraska. The participants included residents, city managers, county commissioners, conservationists, sports enthusiasts and local businesses. Visioning and consensus building activities focused on land use issues and goals for economic and recreational development. The Center also participated on the technical advisory team for the final strategic plan.

Hansen/Trumbull Basin Watershed Management Plan

Through a series of facilitated work sessions, the Heartland Center assisted landowners and state and federal agencies through a strategic planning process that supported both migratory waterfowl habitat and sustainable agriculture in this south-central Nebraska watershed. The Heartland Center developed and conducted visioning and consensus-building activities to create compromises among the opposing interests of residents, conservationists, NRD representatives and business development interests.

 


Sample Projects – Strategic Planning

Stevens Creek Basin Planning Initiative
When progress was stalled and group fragmentation was threatening, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Nebraska Planning Department retained the facilitation services of the Heartland Center to intervene and facilitate a diverse 17-member citizen task force. The group was appointed to create planning guidelines for future watershed development. The partially developed watershed comprises 54 square miles located immediately east of the city’s existing municipal limits. The group represented opposing interests in land ownership, historic preservation, development and conservation. The Center developed working agendas for all meetings, facilitated focused discussion and dialogue, produced working materials and printed documents, and moderated public forums for citizen participation. After initial adversity, the group became a cohesive working unit and, after eight months, completed its assignments on schedule. At the conclusion of this project, the Center assisted with writing the Planning Guidelines and Summary Report, which were submitted to the City-County Planning Commission and accepted for consideration in comprehensive plan development.

“Dakota Dreams” – Northwest Venture Communities, Inc.
The Heartland Center completed a yearlong capacity building and strategic planning project in 2003 for eight counties and the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota. More than 600 community members participated in leadership training and community visioning and goal-setting sessions. The Center facilitated and coached task force teams as they actively gathered and organized data on eight key areas related to economic development and the reduction of regional poverty.

Viburnum Economic Development Corporation, Missouri
A looming mine closure crisis turned out to be a catalyst for action for people from the wooded Ozark village of Viburnum and nearby Cherryville, with a combined population of about 1,000. At the end of a six-month strategic planning process facilitated by the Heartland Center, community leaders developed a plan to reinvent a golf course, which was owned by the closed mining company, into a Country Club that caters especially to disabled citizens – the only one of its kind in the Midwest. According to one community planner, “What the Heartland Center contributed was expertise and structure that we needed to match our enthusiasm and desire to grow.”

Strategic Planning for Carson City, Nevada
The Heartland Center designed and facilitated a community-driven strategic planning process focused on four “building blocks” of community development: business development, work force, quality of life and physical infrastructure. Activities included training of the local coordinating committee representing residents, city staff and elected officials, conducting town hall meetings, facilitating task force work sessions, drafting the strategic plan, and producing the final document.

Leadership for Better Schools
This program brought together five Iowa School districts to help them address their need for improved learning and better schools. The Heartland Center provided technical assistance for a series of work sessions and public dialogues on key educational issues and policy initiatives that would lead to educational reform in these districts. In addition, we developed a guidebook on community-school collaboration for the New Iowa Schools Development Corporation.

Excelsior College, Strategic Planning Consultation
Excelsior College underwent a three-year transition from its 20-year history as an operating arm of the New York Board of Excelsior to a new status as a completely independent private institution. The Heartland Center helped revamp its strategic plan and facilitated planning activities, including retreats, focus groups and work sessions.

 


Sample Projects – Town Hall Meetings

Doniphan, Nebraska

The community brought the Heartland Center to conduct a Town Hall Meeting in order to help identify key economic and development opportunities with the goal of creating teams of community members to address these opportunities via task force formation. Through the process, several key emerging themes were identified as the most important. They included a community center, golf course and school improvement. The community center had been in the pre-planning phase for over two years but never came to fruition. As a result of the Heartland Center approach, new interest was sparked because of the higher level of involvement and community engagement the Heartland Center was able to foster among the participants. People who did not know a lot about the community center became interested and a new group of 25 people with a core leadership of seven was created.

Hebron, Nebraska

Hebron is the latest small town to hire the Heartland Center to help create an economic vision for their community and Thayer County. Twenty-four residents devoted a day to a process that encouraged them to discover their past, dream the future and prepare action plans to get there.  Hebron is the Oregon Trail Capital of Nebraska, and residents wanted to get the most out of this designation. One promising endeavor born in the meeting was the creation of a county-wide website in which communities within the county can link their information and events on the site and promote the tourism opportunities found in Thayer County. This idea worked hand-in-hand with another table of participants who wanted to help the county’s communities work together to reach common goals.

 


Sample Projects – Program Evaluation

Managing Information With Rural America (MIRA)
Between 1998 and 2001 we provided evaluation and technical assistance to diverse clusters of communities for this W.K. Kellogg Foundation program. As program evaluator for the MIRA Cluster of Communities we utilized both qualitative and quantitative methods to analyze the structure, process and outcomes of this major rural development initiative involving nearly 100 community 10-person teams in 12 states. Our services included formative and summative evaluation with methods such as on-site visits to communities to articulate program goals and procedures, coaching sessions with local steering committees, facilitating focus groups of community team members, and designing and analyzing written surveys measuring the outcomes of cluster workshops. Our diverse team of evaluators maintained on-going contact with community teams during each of the two rounds of MIRA program implementation and produced all narrative and date final reports for the foundation.

Work Skills/Life Skills, Making Work Work, and Global Corporate Citizenship
The Heartland Center served as “Learning Partner” for 27 grantee organizations of three Hitachi Foundation initiatives. Our role was to support a collaborative peer-learning network for the creation and evaluation of new and innovative approaches to advance the grantees’ related work and shared vision. Activities included facilitating learning during plenary convening sessions, disseminating news and lessons learned through electronic newsletters, designing and managing a central web site and providing technical assistance to individual grantee organizations.

Kansas Service Learning Consortium
For this three-year evaluation project the Center measured the impact, number and value of service learning programs for students enrolled in numerous Kansas college courses. Service learning is a teaching and learning technique through which students participate and learn through community project work. Measured activities include faculty development workshops, mini-grant projects, student experiences and attitudes, and outside organizational collaboration.

 


Samplr Projects – Training for Practitioners

Helping Small Towns Succeed
This is the Heartland Center’s highly acclaimed basic training institute for community development professionals and practitioners, previously held annually at Snow King Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyoming since 1992.

Energizing Entrepreneurship in Rural America
In this train-the-trainer program the Heartland Center describes different kinds of support a community can provide from within its own set of resources that encourage the development of local entrepreneurship. We also explore how these communities are preventing “brain drain” by helping their most promising young citizens create future opportunities close to home. The training curriculum and accompanying educational materials teach rural community leaders how to replicate the success stories they learn about.

Building Facilitation Skills
This one-day workshop explains the role a facilitator plays within group processes and provides helpful information on what to watch for in group participation, how to analyze group behavior, getting and giving feed-back, planning successful meetings and much more. We are happy to customize this training experience to meet the specific needs of your group or organization.