The Urban Core Collective (UCC) will launch its eight month Transformational Leaders Program (TLP) Friday, May 17, with the intent to equip 23 young leaders with critical skills and knowledge required to fill positions of influence across Grand Rapids to support systematic change and to achieve racial equality.

Paul Doyle of Paul T. Doyle and Associates, a consultant in cultural competency, states “it has been evident that there is a lack of culturally diverse leadership within our community of Grand Rapids and that it would take an intentional effort to address this issue. Therefore the UCC members determined that the development of this program would be the first step in creating a pipeline of future leaders of color that would be equipped to fill this void.”

The TLP is an output resulting from a Community of Practice, fostered among the six community-based non-profit organizations comprising the UCC. The UCC was made possible by a $2 million grant received from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation over the next three years. The members of the UCC include Baxter Community Center, Family Outreach Center, Grand Rapids African American Health Institute, Grand Rapids Urban League, Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, and United Methodist Community House.

Throughout the program, participants will be afforded the opportunity to visit organizations that successfully model collaboration, innovation, entrepreneurial thinking and transformational business leadership. These students will be asked to identify key issues facing the community and develop a personal development plan that allows them to proactively contribute and influence others in solving those issues.

“By increasing the diversity of our community leadership we will increase our ability to create innovative strategies through diversity of thought, which can support racial equity and enhance quality of life for all members of our community” said Joe Jones, Grand Rapids Urban League. As members of the TLP advance in their personal and professional lives, they will be trained with the expectation to mentor other people of color in the community to support racial equality and enhance the quality of life for all in the Grand Rapids area.