The Empowerment Congress Leadership Institute was established to help communities around the country learn from the history and successes of the Empowerment Congress, a 22-year community engagement effort in Los Angeles County. Widely regarded as the forerunner to the neighborhood council movement, the Empowerment Congress was founded by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas when he was a member of the Los Angeles City Council as a way to engage all citizens in efforts to improve their communities.
Community Partners helped pilot the program in 2012 and continues to assist with planning and design, outreach and recruitment, and facilitation for this annual, multi-day training.
The Institute draws together a diverse group of community leaders and elected officials from around the country who join in panel discussions, presentations, and interactive exercises to generate ideas for creating authentic, shared engagement in civic activities. Participants leave with a reinvigorated sense of how participatory democracy, intentional civility, and reciprocal accountability can improve their initiatives at home.
The most recent event featured a range of speakers, including Community Partners CEO Paul Vandeventer, D’Artagnan Scorza, project leader for Social Justice Learning Institute (a project of Community Partners), Dr. Bob Ross of The California Endowment, and Mary Lee of PolicyLink.