Community Leadership Corps FAQ

What is the Community Leadership Corps?
The Community Leadership Corps is a six-month program for young people (ages 18 – 25) to come together and develop projects that address opportunities and challenges in their community. The program includes three local in-person trainings, local mentorship, online coaching, and funds to support team projects. At the first training in June, Community Leadership Corps members will be placed on a team with other CLC Members to complete a group project in their community over the course of the six-month program.

The program will begin in each city in June and end in November.

What are the requirements of the program?
CLC members must be:

  • Between the ages of 18 – 25 as of May 1, 2019
  • Able to commit 5 – 10 hours a week to this program from June 1 – November 20, 2019 (flexible, self-scheduled hours working with your team)
  • Living full-time in or the surrounding areas of Chicago, IL or Hartford, CT from June 1 – November 20, 2019
  • Available for three in-person trainings (listed below). Trainings are typically a Friday evening and all day Saturday and Sunday, however specific timing is to be determined. October and November dates are still being finalized.
  • Hartford, CT: June 7 – 9; August 16 – 18; November 8 – 10
  • Chicago, IL: May 31 – June 2; August 2 – 4; October 25-27

There are no educational requirements for this program. We strongly encourage applicants from all educational backgrounds to apply.

Are CLC members paid?
CLC members are not paid. However, ground transportation and meals at in-person convenings will be covered. Project teams will have access to funds to support the implementation of their projects during the program.

What are you looking for in applicants?

When reviewing applications we look for four main qualities:

Leadership potential
We believe leadership shows up in many different ways and often the best leaders don’t view themselves as leaders. This is why we ask applicants is to tell us about a time they helped bring people together to take action. This could be in a more formal role like as captain of a team, volunteer at a faith-based institution, or treasurer of Key Club. However, it could also be in an informal way like getting fellow students to help a classmate or helping family members overcome daily challenges. The results of the act itself is not what matters to us; the willingness and motivation to proactively address issues is what we look for.

Community Investment
The CLC is exclusively for members of either the Chicago or Hartford communities . We ask applicants to tell us about a challenge in their community that they believe they have the power to bring people together to help solve. The program is designed to help members engage in a project of their design to help better their community. So while we aren’t looking for a particular issue, what we are looking for is to gain a better understanding of your community from your perspective. There’s no right answer; we just want to understand why applicants care about their community.

A crucial component to success in the CLC is gaining feedback and working with your community to build solutions. CLC members must be willing to adjust their projects and perceptions of an opportunity or issue in their community based on working with their teams, feedback, and talking to community members. We ask applicants to tell us about a time that they adapted to a situation based on new information. For example, CLC participants will come up with an idea for a project and then seek feedback from community members which may result in making adjustments to best serve their community.

Alignment with Obama Foundation values
The Obama Foundation is a values-based organization; therefore, we look for members of our programs to be aligned with those values. These values include: teamwork, humility, integrity, inclusivity, stewardship, fearlessness, and imagination. These values should be demonstrated throughout the application.

Who has been a part of the CLC in the past?
The CLC launched for the first time in 2018 in Chicago,IL; Columbia, SC; and Phoenix, AZ. Each city’s cohort celebrated the diversity of the local community and of this generation. Members represented a variety of racial and ethnic identities, as well as socioeconomic and educational backgrounds, gender identities, and sexual orientations. We believe that bringing people together from diverse perspectives has the greatest potential for creating change. What matters is that they were all united by their drive to do something to make their community a better place for themselves and others.

What is the time commitment for members?
We ask that applicants be able to commit to 5 to 10 hours per week, as well as be able to attend all in-person convenings. The number of hours per week will vary and include in-person convenings, individual work, online trainings and working on your team project in the community.

What will members gain from the Community Leadership Corps?
CLC members will gain valuable skills in community organizing, design thinking, and project management. They will also gain hands-on experience designing and implementing community projects with a team. They will get connected with local organizations and leaders, as well as receive coaching support from local Success Coaches . Finally, they will join the Obama Foundation network of program alumni, a network of lifelong community leaders, from around the globe.

What are the trainings like?
The three in-person trainings in each city will be hands-on, tailored to both the city and the cohort’s needs, and focused on practical skill-building, specifically, design thinking, community organizing, project management, and equity-centered leadership skills. Facilitators at each training will be a blend of both national and local leaders.

When are the in-person trainings?
Trainings are typically a Friday evening and all day Saturday and Sunday; however, specific timing is to be determined. October and November dates are still being finalized.

  • Hartford, CT: June 7 – 9; August 16 – 18; November 8 – 10
  • Chicago, IL: May 31 – June 2; August 2 – 4; October 25-27

What happens after the program?
After the program our goal is that Community Leadership Corps members will have gained new skills, tools, and resources that are applicable to many areas of their lives and enable them to continue on their community leadership journey. While we are still in the early stages of formal alumni programming, CLC members will be invited to the alumni network where they can connect with other leaders around the globe.

What does it take to complete the program?
Program members are asked to complete a series of requirements to earn a Community Leadership Corps certificate. Namely, members must attend all three in-person trainings, complete online coursework, execute a group project in the community, and provide documentation of that project.

When will I know if I’ve been accepted?
Applicants will be informed whether they have been accepted by April 30th. Applicants are highly encouraged to hold the training dates for their cities on their personal calendars. All applicants will also be alerted if they have not been accepted.

Why these cities?
Chicago is the home of the Obama Foundation and investing in the next generation of leaders in this city is one of our commitments to this city. When looking at additional communities ripe for this program we look for a high population of young people and strong community committed to supporting continuing opportunities for leadership and engagement. And well, “Hartford Has It!”. With over 40% of the Hartford population under 25 years old and dozens and dozens of incredible organizations doing youth and civic focused work, it was the right fit!

Will these always be the cities the CLC program takes place in? What about last year’s cities?
The Obama Foundation is committed to the CLC program in these two cities for the duration of this year’s program. For 2019, the CLC will only exist in Chicago and Hartford. CLC Alumni in Columbia and Phoenix, please stay tuned for more information about alumni opportunities coming soon. Finally, we are looking forward to using this year to explore what type of longer-term engagement might be best for both CLC members and the community beyond this six-month program while also bringing this program to more communities.

What if I don’t live in Chicago or Hartford?
The Community Leadership Corps is limited to young adults who will be living in Chicago or Hartford full-time from June 2019 through the end of November 2019. If you will not be living there then, we’d love for you to sign up for more information on our online learning experiences which will be offered later this year.