• Center For Neighborhoods

Partnerships Allow Strengths to Shine

In our community work, we strive for partnership. Whether with organizations and institutions, or neighbors and neighborhood groups, our partnerships are essential to the foundational project of building up community strength.

Back in September, we partnered with a local nonprofit, Adelante Hispanic Achievers, and Dr. Kelly Kinahan with the U of L's School of Urban and Public Affairs, to spend a Saturday exploring the topic of urban planning as it connects to community building. Adelante is "devoted to empowering [Louisville's] Hispanic youth," and through their weekly Saturday Mentoring and Enrichment program, they are doing just that!

In connection to the semester's theme of community building, students were given opportunities to think creatively about their neighborhoods and their physical environment in ways that put the issues of quality of life and community cohesion front and center. How do streets and parks and local businesses relate to a sense of community? What are the possibilities for building cities that uplift the communities within them?

Bellow, Adelante Program Manager, Luisa Trujillo, offers her own perspective on the work they are doing:

1. How was it decided to focus on "Community Building" for this year's Saturday program content?

This is the first year that we decide to do a cohesive theme for the workshops that we offer during our [weekly] Saturday Mentoring and Enrichment Program. The topic of "Community Building" is one close to my heart. As an Urban Planner, I always thought that it was hard to think about building better communities without the real input of the people who actually live in a determined area. The goal with this semester's theme was to plant a seed for Adelante students so that they start thinking about the impact they can and will have in their community. We have taken a holistic approach to the theme of building community. The workshops include topics like how people relate to the natural and built environment, but also about identity, self esteem, and mental health. We believe that building community requires a systemic approach.

2. How do you draw inspiration for creating the content for the programs?

It is all a mix of things. But the best inspiration is the desire to make an impact on Adelante's students' futures. We not [hope] for them to be successful and wonderful professionals, [and] we hope that they can become kind, caring, connected and resilient people.

3. Why do you think it's important to explore the topic of "community building" with youth?

It is important for us that the students understand that while being professionally successful is very important, it is not the only component to feeling happy and fulfilled. Instead, we wanted to communicate to them that being healthy mentally and physically, [having respect for] others and the natural environment, [being] self-reliant and confident in their identity, and of course [being] professionally successful, are all part of building a better future not only for themselves but for their community as well. Additionally, we think that having an impact on their immediate community can help them feel more included and welcome.

4. What inspires you most about working with the Adelante youth?

Oh, wow! We can go forever here. But I am inspired by them every time I see them. They grasp concepts in a second, even when I think it may be hard. They get it! They understand that if we all pitch in, we will all be better. They are interested, curious, and eager to be part of the change that is much needed. My favorite moments are when they come up with an amazing answer that leaves the presenter in awe.

Adelante Hispanic Achievers draw their "Ideal Neighborhood" and consider what it means to create and to live in a strong, healthy community.