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One America - Community Connection

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One America

Program: Community Connection, Harrisburg, PA
Contact(s): Susan Warner-Mills, Project Director: (717) 523-8511
Purpose: To promote healthy civic relationships among diverse people, organizations and leaders

Background Program Operations Outcomes


The Pennsylvania League of Women Voters Citizens Education Fund (LWVPA/CEF) seeks active and informed participation in the civic life of American communities and government. Community Connection was created in 1995 by LWVPA/CEF to encourage positive relationships among members of multicultural communities by creating a support system for collaborative activities in Pennsylvania communities. Community Connection is aimed at those people and groups who oftentimes are on competing sides of challenging issues.

Program Operations

Community Connection was created to provide three basic services. First, it establishes, supports and oversees a series of 10 pilot projects implemented by various partnerships in several communities. Five year-long pilot projects were initiated in September 1995 and five in the fall of 1996. Community Connection provides the funding and institutional support required by the pilot project participants. For example, the Partnership for Courage in Pottstown and Boyertown is building a regional network of organizations, institutions and individuals to respond to hate crimes and public demonstrations by white supremacists. The Springfield Township Citizens Partnership has created a five-year plan to develop a comprehensive process for addressing issues of diversity, tolerance and inter-generational relationships. Second, Community Connection provides intensive, hands-on technical support for community leaders and citizens interested in exploring approaches to addressing community issues as well as carrying on the day-to-day business of the communities. The program assists in identifying core issues and key stakeholders and helps interested parties talk through alternative strategies for approaching and including diverse groups of people. For its third basic service, Community Connection is a clearinghouse of information on community-based collaborations for interested community groups across Pennsylvania. The program helps connect communities with nationally based groups such as the Center for Living Democracy, the Kettering Foundation, the Public Conversations Project and the Study Circles Resource Center.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

Community Connection was developed and continues to function with the ongoing, active participation of a statewide advisory committee of representatives from statewide organizations such as the school boards association, borough and township associations, the American Association for Retired People, economic and community development organizations, the Chamber of Business and Industry and the Council of Churches. The program's pilot phase for establishing community partnerships is complete; plans are underway to allow Community Connection to continue to provide grants for community-based collaborative projects. The projected budget for Community Connection is approximately $160,000 over three years.

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