Jackson selected to host Obama’s Change Collective

Published 9:30 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Former President Barack Obama has selected Jackson as one of three cities to participate in a new initiative aimed at supporting the next generation of emerging leaders.

Obama, in a video message Tuesday, launched the Change Collective, which looks to reinvent civic life for the 21st century by investing in and supporting the next generation of leaders who are bridging divides and driving change in their communities.

Members of the Change Collective will have access to training opportunities, leadership development and a wide network of mentors both locally and nationally, The Clarion Ledger reported.

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The effort will launch a pilot program in Jackson, Chicago and Detroit but is expected to expand to additional locations and will include 25 leaders representing a range of identities, backgrounds, and ideologies, according to the video.

“It’s a way to bring emerging leaders from different identities and backgrounds together and help them build relationships and solve problems in their communities,” Obama said in the announcement. “Because real change happens one person, one community, one connection at a time. And we all need to learn how to better work with folks who have different backgrounds and beliefs.”

The Change Collective will be housed at Civic Nation, a nonpartisan nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. Participants will receive a series of leadership development trainings to learn how to engage and organize members of their community, public officials, and institutions before launching a neighborhood-based civic action project.

According to the release, only half of U.S. adults, consider themselves civically engaged, and the numbers are even lower for people with low incomes and those who do not have a college degree. The Change Collective hopes to combat that issue by preparing the next generation of local leaders to build a more equitable, welcoming, and inclusive democracy.

“We do not have to accept political polarization and disconnection as the norm,” said Kalisha Dessources Figures, a senior fellow at Civic Nation who will lead the new initiative’s work. “By focusing on building bridges and embracing difference as a source of strength, the Change Collective will build a bench of local leaders working to make our communities more durable and better connected.”

Applications are now open. To learn more about and apply to be a part of the community, visit www.change-collective.org.