“How do I love thee?” Elizabeth Barrett Browning begins her 43rd sonnet by asking this question. She answers with: “Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height.” Similar to Browning, Leadership Foundations (LF) asks the same question about cities around the world and answers that there are countless ways depending on the need and desire of that particular city. One of these ways is the Act Six Leadership and Scholarship Initiative and the LF Central Office’s involvement in replicating the program in five cities across the United States.
At the core of every local leadership foundation (LLF) is the idea that discovering, training and supporting leaders on their journey will serve them, their communities and the world. In 2002, frustrated that too many of Tacoma’s talented future leaders were not completing their college degrees, and inspired by the success of the New York-based Posse Foundation, Northwest Leadership Foundation (NLF) approached Whitworth University with a bold idea. What would happen if NLF selected and trained cohorts of emerging leaders from the urban community and sent them together to college with full scholarships and the charge to be agents of change?
Knowing that this great idea may never see the light of day if not properly resourced, NLF worked with the LF Central Office to secure a significant investment and give the initiative the love it needed to get off the ground and into five cities across the United States. Since 2002, Act Six has selected and trained hundreds of scholars that represent the very best emerging urban and community leaders. And most importantly, more than two-thirds have returned to live and serve in their home communities.
Marisol Rosado-Carrisalez is one of these bright emerging leaders. A former Act Six scholar, she returned to serve her hometown of Tacoma as the Act Six Program Assistant at NLF. Marisol reflected, “Act Six gave me space to nurture and build on the strengths I had gained from living and serving in Tacoma. Every person is presented with challenges in life, but I can firmly say that Act Six provided me with the training and tools to lead and serve my home community effectively. It taught me that empowerment and leadership are not just concepts. They are an embodiment. I am Act Six.”
Act Six and stories like Marisol’s exemplifies our answer to Browning’s question: How does LF love thee? By providing needed resources to help our members develop programs like Act Six so that they can discover and equip the next generation of leaders.