The Horizons Program is a community leadership program aimed at reducing poverty in small rural and reservation communities faced with economic decline and demographic change. The Northwest Area Foundation funds the Horizons program and will coordinate grants of up to $10,000 to each community that successfully completes all segments of the program.
Entire communities are being left behind because of the impact of poverty on the life and vitality of their town. Horizonís goals on poverty are for communities to identify it, commit collectively to do something about it and begin to take strategic action to change it.
In Segment 1: Showcases, University of Idaho Extension provided a one-day sample of the Horizons program that gave communities an opportunity to learn abut the program and decide whether or not to apply. The Prairie met the requirement of five people attending the showcase, completed the application on time, and was accepted for participation.
In almost every community taking part in Horizons, awareness of poverty begins to happen during Segment 2: Community Conversations, where communities learn that poverty has many dimensions. They begin to identify community assets and hold community dialogues to discuss what poverty looks like in their community and the factors that fuel poverty. They explore ways to reduce poverty and examine how local, regional, state, and national policies affect poverty and prosperity in their community.
Currently there are four different conversation groups on the Prairie, comprised of 21 adults and 29 youth, participating in this five- session facilitated dialogue on poverty. During the final session, all four groups will come together to share the action steps they discussed.
Through Segment 3: LeadershipPlenty Training, Horizons assists communities in their efforts to build the skills, information and connections they need to design, lead and implement their own prosperity-for-all vision and sustainable action. These skills include the ability to: identify and develop assets, promote collaboration across all community members and public private sectors, acquire facilitation and community dialogue and action skills, develops strategic plans, set measurable goals and promote civic engagement. Sister Teresa Jackson, Emmett Wilson and Teresa Baldridge are completing training on the LeadershipPlenty program and will teach the curriculum to Prairie communities between April and the end of July. Be watching for flyers and brochures and invitations to participate in LeadershipPlenty. For the Prairie to remain in the Horizons program, at least 25 community members must complete the classes Sister Teresa, Emmett and Teresa will offer this spring/summer.
While taking part in the Horizons program, community members become aware of the demographics in their community, and become deliberate about recruiting low income and diverse community members and developing intercommunity relations. During Segment 4: Community Visioning, community members work together to develop a plan of action that promotes movement on community visions and goals for increased prosperity. The final community work plan culminates during Segment 5: Community Coaching and Action, which takes place at the end of the program.
Kathee Tifft, Community Coach