The Great Lakes Consortium for International Training and Development (GLC) – started to manage Professional Fellows Programs with grants from the Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in 2011 for managing and organizing exchanges with fellows from Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and the United States.
We received the following grant to implement programs:
1/ Citizen Legislative Advocacy in Minority Communities (2011-2013)
2/ Building Grassroots Democracy in Minority Communities” (2012-2014)
3/ Sustaining Civic Participation in Minority Communities (2014-2016)
4/ Sustaining Civic Participation in Minority Communities (2015-2017)
This website “glc_teachdemocracy2.org” includes documentation (newsletters, photos and videos) from these previous as well as current exchanges supported by the current grant from the U.S. State Department, to encourage wider distribution of the opportunities that these exchanges offer and to disseminate some of our accomplishments and engage more people in making a change in their communities. (The contents of our previous glc_teachdemocracy.org website that only included the information on our first grant were moved to this site to keep all the progress together).
The overall goal of these grants is to provide a professional development opportunity for up-and-coming and mid-level professionals to gain knowledge of U.S. practices in engaging citizens and community leaders in collaboration to initiate and realize changes in legislation and improve the everyday life and make a difference in minority communities (including Roma, disabilities, immigrant, LGBT, homeless populations) and strengthen democracy.
Under these grants European participants are exposed to diverse community organizing methods to engage citizens as active participants in solving problems in their own communities. They gain hands-on experience at both public and civil society institutions in the U.S. and a deeper understanding of U.S. society, culture and people. They have opportunities to examine the relationship between civil society and government and learn methods to fight public corruption and develop accountability. Through 4-week internship placements at national, state and local organizations across the U.S. European fellows gain knowledge and experience as well as adaptable approaches that they can implement after their return.
The U.S. participants of this exchange have opportunities to share professional expertise and gain a deeper understanding of the societies, cultures and people of other countries. U.S. mentors also travel for a reciprocal visit overseas for about 2 weeks to provide mentoring, consultation, and training to their fellows and the organizations, and other partners who are involved and/or interested in making changes in their communities using community organizing tools.
During these years we developed a GLC-alumni network in each of our European partner countries who are also involved in the U.S. State Department/ Embassy alumni activities. Together with our partners we developed a “Learning Circle” in each country that allow continues experience sharing and peer-to-peer learning.
Our alumni are engaged in many follow on activities after their return with new experience from the U.S. The results of these activities from the alumni of our first two grants are published in our “Taking Action-Changing Life in Minority Communities” book, which includes 85 success stories from 5 countries, as well as a summary of our first alumni reunion in 2014. This full color 500 page book is available for purchase and can be used in these and other countries to encourage citizen participation and using community organizing methods in solving issues one-by-one. This book also shows that community organizing can work also in Europe and those who are interested to learn can reach out to any of the fellows included in the book for consultation and for additional information.
This citizen civic exchange promotes mutual understanding, creates long-term professional ties, enhance the collaboration between GLC and its partners: Creating Effective Grassroots Alternatives (C.E.G.A.) in Bulgaria, Civil College Foundation (CCF) in Hungary, The Resource Center for Public Participation (CeRe) in Romania; and the Centre for Community Organization (CKO) in Slovakia.
Great Lakes Community Action Partnership (GLCAP) – a private, non-profit, community-based organization which has over 50-years of success working with underserved, small and rural communities. GLC is a program of GLCAP to manage international opportunities and programs. GLC was established in 1999 as a collaborative effort of Bowling Green State University, Lourdes University, The University of Toledo, and GLCAP.