Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

Sacred Creations

Name of Innovative Program: 
Community Organizing 101
Sponsoring Organization
Sacred Creations
Name of Innovative Program Lead: 
AJ French
E-mail Address of Innovative Program Lead:
Project Description: 
Community Organizing 101 is a competitive internship integrating mental health recovery principles and community organizing methods.  Participants meet for three hours once per month to receive basic instruction and work in teams of four outside of class to complete assignments related to curriculum.  Topics include and are not limited to developing leadership qualities, understanding self-interests, differentiating between public and private relationships, conducting power analysis and implementing successful campaigns throughout Illinois.  Each team has a designated leader and decides specific issues to campaign pending instructor approval.  Illinois has developed the Certified Recovery Support Specialist (CRSS) competency-based credential.  The CRSS is earned by persons with lived mental health recovery experience and the domains of said credential include advocacy, mentoring, professional responsibility and recovery support.  Individuals who successfully complete the Community Organizing Internship have supervised work hours which, if they are in the process of pursuing the CRSS credential, can be applied toward the required hours needed to obtain the credential.  In addition to advancing mental health issues in tangible ways throughout Illinois, Community Organizing 101 strengthens Recovery Leadership providing opportunity for individuals to earn highly sought after work hours.  For persons transitioning from disability income to earned income, this is workforce development.         
Creativity and Innovation: 
Community Organizing 101 exhibits originality by integrating proven principles in community organizing and recovery support fields to systemically strengthen our collective voice.  Internship teams will learn skills which will be utilized on specific issues in their respective communities.   Ingenuity will become evident as each team decides which area of health promotion they wish to campaign.  It is possible that multiple teams will choose the same issue (which would make for an interesting comparison) or that each team will identify a distinctively unique issue.  Either way, teams have autonomy to creatively engage their local community.  It is also expected that teams will generate participation at a rally to be held at the Illinois State Capital.  This rally will be historic, as it is the very first rally to ever be generated by Recovery Leadership.  Participating at a state level builds momentum necessary for national participation in the ADA Legacy Project.        
While application to the internship is designed to be a competitive process, the team demographic consists of three primary populations.  Individuals in recovery learn and work together with individuals from the independent living movement and individuals from faith communities who are focused on social justice issues.  This implementation solidifies our bond with allies in the broader cross-disability arena, as well as strengthening relationships with natural supports in local communities.  Engaging individual citizens, diverse stakeholders and multiple systems partners is the highest priority of Community Organizing 101.  Teams have opportunity for face to face conversations with community leaders, public presentations on their respective campaign issues and speaking with elected officials.  The extent to which Community Organizing 101 collaborates with individuals and organizations to impact meaningful change cannot be understated.  Team leaders are responsible for holding each intern accountable for their outreach and team strategy, as well as documenting supervised work hours.               
Organizing people and organizing money are basic tenants of community organizing.  While the leadership question spoke to organizing people, this sustainability question will speak to organizing money.  Should Scattergood award Community Organizing 101, participants are given instruction on fundraising as part of the curriculum and asked to collectively raise $25,000.00 during their internship.  The matching funds which are raised finances an internship for a second class.  This provides participants experience with fundraising, as well as a ‘pay it forward’ opportunity.    Primary support for Community Organizing 101 comes from the Gamaliel Foundation.  Sacred Creations is utilizing Gamaliel’s national leadership curriculum while continuing to receive mentorship from Gamaliel on developing powerful organizations.  Entities with a vested interest in a successful CRSS internship include the Illinois Certification Board, Illinois Department of Human Services / Division of Mental Health and the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) of Illinois.   
Community Organizing 101 has tremendous potential to be effectively replicated and one goal of our internship is that it will be utilized by Recovery Leaders in states other than Illinois.  There are Peer Specialists in every state and, though the certification/credentialing requirements vary from state to state, an internship of this caliber appeals to individuals beyond the scope of peer specialists - - such as Recovery Advocates and Recovery Educators. In every state issues exist which are deserving of successful campaigns, but the real issue is empowerment.  For individuals, participation in this internship means building a professional resume.  For the recovery community, this internship means building our collective voice.  In Illinois, one aspect of this internship in includes coordinating a rally at the state capital.  This exercise can easily be expanded to a national level so future internships can rally in Washington DC for the 25th Anniversary of ADA.   
Community Organizing 101 is measured by people, money and campaigns. Regarding people, participants will report on the following.·         Recovery values demonstrated during interaction with others.·         Number of persons which they meet with face to face for the purpose of community organizing.·         Number of people who attend public meetings they have coordinated.·         Number of stakeholders they have engaged in appointments with public officials.·         Number of people who attended Recovery Rally at state capital.Regarding money, participants will report on the following.·         Ethical responsibilities demonstrated when raising money.·         Number of individuals/organizations which were asked to contribute.·         Number of individuals/organizations which did contribute.·         Total amount of money raised.Regarding successful campaigning, participants will report on the following.·         Did campaign create, influence or change a specific policy or ruling?·         Number of media/social media coverage.·         Status on earning CRSS credential (as applicable).
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