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Foundation Hosts Meeting For Yes we can! Partners

A total of 45 representatives from 17 nonprofit organizations joined 24 local residents on Nov. 10–11 at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for the fall 2006 Yes we can! Building Collective Action for Community Change conference. The purpose of the convening was for Yes we can! partner organizations and residents involved in their work to build relationships with each other. The two-day meeting reflected the Foundation’s continuing effort to serve as a resource for nonprofit organizations.

“As one of many partners involved in Yes we can!, we were pleased to host such an inspiring and productive event,” said Donna Lartigue, program director for Greater Battle Creek programming at the Kellogg Foundation. “This conference was designed to help participants learn about each other’s organization and Yes we can! grant project, and identify and explore connections. We also wanted to generate a deeper understanding of Yes we can! strategies, and share ideas about the benefits of working together – all for the purpose of  making Battle Creek a better place to live for everyone.”

The conference opened with a rousing greeting from Kellogg Foundation senior vice-president of programs Jim McHale, who set the tone for the conference. “The enthusiasm that participants showed during the conference reflects the same can-do attitude and commitment that our founder Will Kellogg had with respect to his sense of responsibility in the community,” he said following the conference. “We’re proud to partner with such dedicated nonprofits; they work tirelessly to improve the quality of life in Battle Creek.”

The event featured several interactive activities designed to allow grantees and residents to become acquainted. Participants also engaged in breakout sessions to share their ideas concerning the benefits of working together to create positive community change.

“We are constantly listening to our partners and learning from their experience,” said Bob Long, director of Greater Battle Creek programming and senior program officer, during a conference presentation. Together, we are working to build respect for our individual missions. And, we are seeking to build quality relationships that include a commitment to holding each other accountable for what we agree to do.”

During the meeting, Long characterized the Yes we can! initiative as advancing a vision of a more vibrant nonprofit sector in Battle Creek. This vision is characterized by:

• Creating, aligning, and reframing nonprofit enterprises all the time, keeping their missions relevant and their impacts high
• An active democracy, with everyone engaged
• Promoting stewardship at all levels of the community
• Capitalizing on diversity as an essential asset of the community
• Sharing leadership, responsibility and power
• Sustaining impact

“The work of creating change in Battle Creek is the responsibility of all of us, not just one organization,” said Nonprofit Alliance executive director Teresa Durham. “The collective participation witnessed among Yes we can! Partners at this conference demonstrates the dedication of nonprofit organizations to serve this community. We look forward to supporting them in their work.”

The meeting concluded with stirring performances by two Battle Creek youth who energized conference-goers with spoken-word poetry. Participants left with a greater sense of purpose and anticipation about working closer with each other toward common goals.

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