FPU’s Center for Community Transformation expands its foundation of effectiveness

By wayne.steffen on May 17, 2017 @ 9:43am

A new partnership will increase the effectiveness of the Fresno Pacific University Center for Community Transformation (CCT).

The CCT, part of Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary, is affiliating with Leadership Foundations, an international community development network in 70 cities worldwide that links people of faith with people of good will to accomplish change in a city. Foundations also increase the capacities of other organizations to achieve results and accomplish joint initiatives that would not be possible individually.

The announcement was made before 50 community leaders, university and seminary representatives and center staff at Central Valley Community Foundation, 5260 N. Palm Ave., Fresno, on May 4, 2017. Randy White, D.Min., executive director of the CCT, put the work of the center into a context rich in meaning in one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions: “You don’t just get things to grow, you have to cultivate the ground,” he said.

The center has been cultivating, planting and harvesting peace and plenty since 2012, largely through four programs:

  • Faith and Finances has trained more than 80 leaders in low-income areas in ways to help their constituencies manage money and avoid from predatory lending.

  • The Social Enterprise Initiative has helped start 32 small businesses that provide work for people with barriers to employment, and has achieved a 70 percent success rate in a field where the average is 30 percent.

  • More than 55 Spanish-speaking pastors and leaders have completed a year-long certificate program culminating in a module on community transformation. About one-third of Fresno’s 500 congregations, many in the poorest neighborhoods, are Spanish-speaking and have bi-vocational leaders who have not had the benefit of theological or leadership training.

  • The City Shaping Initiative has helped hundreds of leaders be civically engaged by volunteering with community benefit organizations or getting specialized training in community transformation.

Becoming a Leadership Foundation will prepare CCT for further success by linking local staff to coaching and best practices from community development organizations in 28 countries, providing access to additional funding sources and establishing a more sustainable infrastructure. Plans for the center include:

  • Starting the region’s first social enterprise academy, training both institutions and individual entrepreneurs to run a business with a particular social impact, work with people who have barriers to employment or provide a revenue stream for a specific good work.

  • Starting a Spanish-language version of Faith and Finances.

  • Broadening the Certificate for Spanish-Speaking Leaders program to more remote rural communities.

  • Building stronger relationships with the city of Fresno to fight homelessness, violence, poverty and other issues.

  • Institute asset-based community development for neighborhood leaders with Fresno Metro Ministries and Every Neighborhood Partnership.

  • Expand connections with the FPU School of Business.

  • Unite faith leaders in pursuing collaborative work in the city.

Speakers included Bill Smittcamp, president/CEO of Wawona Frozen Foods (pictured); Ashley Swearengin, director of the Central Valley Community Foundation and former mayor of Fresno; and H Spees, senior associate at Leadership Foundations and director of strategic initiatives for Fresno Mayor Lee Brand.

More about the CCT at cctfresno.org

More about Leadership Foundations at leadershipfoundations.org/