By: Heather Williams—
Muncie, IN—The Muncie Action Plan spent 2019 working to address the issues identified by the community during the MAP3 planning process. MAP’s five task forces have focused their efforts on Linking Learning, Health, and Prosperity (TF1), Fostering Collaboration (TF2), Strengthening Muncie’s Pride and Image (TF3), Creating Attractive and Desirable Places (TF4), and Managing Community Resources (TF5). As we close out this year, we would like to share our successes as we approach our Annual Community Meeting on January 28th at Muncie Central High School. This is the first of five reports from our task force leaders.
Task Force 1 is concentrating its efforts on a Cradle to Career Initiative.
The Cradle to Career Initiative continues to move forward and gain traction in the community. Collaborative Action Network (CAN) teams are forming and leaders are emerging for each of the steps along the Cradle to Career Continuum. BY5 has agreed to lead the effort with a strong collaboration among many other partners in Kindergarten Readiness. This is a natural fit for BY5 with their mission focused on early childhood awareness and education.
United Way volunteered to lead the third Grade Reading CAN. United Way has a goal for all third graders to be reading at grade level by 2024 with the ultimate goal of addressing generational poverty. The Innovation Connector has taken on the leadership role for Middle Grade Math. The Innovation Connector, with its entrepreneurial approach, focuses on problem solving and STEM based strategies through their TechWise Academy coding program. The Innovation Connector will facilitate a collaborative approach with schools and other organizations that are focused on improving performance in Middle Grade Math.
Muncie Community Schools is leading groups focused on High School Graduation. The focus would be to increase the graduation rates of Muncie Central High School. Muncie-Delaware County Chamber of Commerce and Delaware Advancement Corporation has signed on to lead the Career/Employment CAN. They are focused on attracting and connecting talent to employers in the county. We are hopeful that in 2020, natural leaders will be identified in the post-secondary enrollment and completion CANs to complete the Cradle to Career Continuum.
Another vital piece of the Cradle to Career Initiative is the importance of mentors or significant individuals in the lives of young people. Behind every successful person is a “team” of individuals who has helped guide them along the way. An approach that has worked successfully in other communities over the years is Derek Peterson’s “Web of Support” concept which states that all people need at least five trusted adults in their lives. Without a “web of support” in place, it would be extremely hard for an individual to reach their full potential.
Muncie Action Plan (MAP) has partnered with United Way, the George and Frances Ball Foundation, Muncie Community Schools, Ball State University, and Sustainable Muncie to address the need for supportive relationships for all people in the community. Based on community input, MAP identified the public’s desire to expand and develop local mentoring programs. Derek’s “Web of Support” will offer a community-wide approach for connecting people to one another in intentional, and meaningful ways.
After months of planning, an initial face-to-face conversation about “Web of Support” took place on October 23rd with approximately 15 community leaders. Derek was then able to visit Muncie on October 31st. He held a two-hour presentation as an introduction to “Web of Support” with approximately 40 community leaders in attendance. MAP is continuing conversations with Derek, and he will be visiting Muncie from January 28th-31st to lead four days of training with two very diverse groups of 50 adults and 50 teens. He will also be giving a public presentation as part of the MAP Annual Report Meeting to be held at Muncie Central High School on the 28th, as well as a community-wide presentation on January 30th at Muncie Central High School.
We want to encourage everyone in the community to attend one or both of these evening sessions to better connect with this key community initiative.
Heather Williams is Associate Director, Office of Community Engagement Program Manager, Building Better Neighborhoods at Ball State University. www.muncieneighborhoods.org