The local leadership program was developed as a year one initiative of Casa Chirilagua’s 3-year strategic direction plan. Together with members of the community, a plan was formed to invest in the development of individuals from our community, resulting in the emergence of local leaders who are confident, empowered, motivated, and united who possess real world experience and skills to succeed. Thus, the Local Leaders program was launched in August 2014 with three students from the community. Two of the three original students were the first in their families to complete high school or attend college. Two of the three are enrolled in community college, contribute to household expenses through their employment with Casa, and one utilizes Kids Club activity materials with younger siblings at home.
Through this program, Local Leaders are matched with a vocational mentor and given the opportunity to attend a monthly professional role model series featuring cultural peers employed in areas of interest to them. Local Leaders are prepared to enter the skilled workforce through part-time employment as Kids Club Assistant Directors.These students also gain an increased understanding of the professionalism necessary to access career opportunities by completing an application portfolio consisting of a professional resume and essay, learning interviewing skills through at least two practice interviews, and setting up a LinkedIn account and network. Additionally, these students are equipped with tools to encourage healthy communication and conflict resolution in the work place. Local Leaders are also incentivized to move beyond high school toward completion of a college education through salary increases tied to educational and skill enhancing benchmarks.
The program has a transformative effect on the lives of the Local Leaders by boosting self-confidence and equipping them with a valuable professional skill set to bring lasting change for them and their families. Simultaneously, they are making an impact in the community by mentoring and shaping the futures of elementary youth as those youth observe Local Leaders pursuing career goals, higher education, personal growth, and professional development.