Have you ever wondered what was possible? What could you become as a person? What could we become as a community and society? Become: Center for Community Engagement and Social Change has asked this question and we have a strategy for getting to what Martin Luther King, Jr. called the “Beloved Community” – a community that takes care of one another and is strong in both its relationships and vision, a community that does not settle for the current state of things but works together to create the ideal environment for social justice and flourishing. Become emerged from the hope and belief that we can actually achieve the conditions that we need to reach our human potential. We believe that this starts with working with the resources already in communities, including the people, schools, faith-based organizations, community centers, and other nonprofits. These resources make up the community and the community already has the answer to the problems; often times, they just need support in doing what they do and ways to do it even better. We are that support. We provide services to the community and organizations that build on what they know, improve what they are doing, and organize the community in a way that moves all the pieces in a common direction – unifying them in purpose. In this way, we can transform current conditions of violence, poverty, low quality education, and illness into health and wellbeing – all in an economically efficient way.
The way we work
We work with the people. Just as the answer to community problems is in the community, the answers to our most pressing challenges is within the people. Therefore, we make sure that community members and leaders are a part of everything we do, from program evaluation to community organizing. Together, we make decisions and ignite social change with community.
We work with organizations. Institutions within the community are part of the lifeblood of the community. If it weren’t for the schools, faith-based organizations, youth and community centers, etc., the community would not have the infrastructure to grow and succeed. Therefore, we focus much of our attention on the organizations serving communities. We work with them, building their capacity to improve themselves, more deeply engage with the community, and reach their potential.
We work with communities. Often times, communities are fragmented. The organizations work in siloes and neighbors too often do not know each other. We bring the entities and people together, moving towards a collective vision. In January of 2013, we decided to Become and incorporated a team of talented, passionate individuals to move forward in realizing social justice and thriving communities. Since our start, we have attracted over 20 volunteers and created relationships with over 10 organizations. We are currently working in 3 communities in Chicago (Auburn Gresham, Englewood, and North Lawndale) and will continue to expand our reach. So far, the journey has been amazing and we only expect for it to get better. Read our next blog to meet members of our team…