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A 40 Year Legacy: A Theology As Big As The City- Episode 40

Take a moment to listen to the latest episode of the City as Playground Podcast.


In this episode, Dave and Rick continue to discuss LF’s 40th anniversary and look back at key pieces of the LF theological framework. The conversation includes clips from Dr. Ray Bakke, a pivotal voice since LF’s early years, reflecting on why loving the city was not just important, but foundationally Christian. Listen here and send in any questions you would like answered to


If you would like to hear more from Ray on this topic, click here to revisit Episode 9: Bible as Urban Book.


Mentoring Youth for Leadership

The Department of Justice must think that Leadership Foundations (LF) is doing something right in mentoring at-risk youth. Since 2015, LF has received two grant awards from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) totaling $4.5 million to provide mentoring relationships to more than 4,500 youth through a network of 23 Local Leadership Foundations (LLFs) across the U.S.


Administering these grants is a great privilege and a great responsibility for LF. We put LF’s wheel of change to work as we seek to build the capacity of local leaders and their mentoring programs. The grants allow LF to provide local leaders with training and resources, sub awards, coaching, and assistance in developing joint initiatives with other local organizations to better serve youth in their communities.


Two LLFs recently shared their reflections on how the training they have received from LF has built their capacity as mentoring programs:


“We feel that we have a strong mentoring program; however, we always know there is room for growth. Through the training webinars, we have gained insight from other cohorts on best practices that have been proven effective. Through the in-person training, we are better prepared to deal with challenges that could develop. We also gained helpful insight from having a regional coach who has the ability to push our thinking and challenge us to be a better mentoring program that will benefit our community.”  
– Anthony Branch, Vice President, Memphis Leadership Foundation


The Metro Atlanta Leadership Foundation has been able to touch the lives of more than 150 students through evidence-based mentoring practices as a sub awardee of the OJJDP grant. Alongside exceeding our mentor-match target goals, we have been able to provide training to our mentors and establish organized processes of data collection. With the accountability of the grant systems in place, we have been able to increase our effectiveness and meet recognized benchmarks.”
–Bianca Singleton, Director Mentoring Youth Collaborative, Metro Atlanta Leadership Foundation


We are grateful not only to have the opportunity to serve youth through mentoring but also to build the capacity of LLF mentoring programs so that they can continue to truly transform communities from battlegrounds into playgrounds.

A 40 Year Legacy: The Founding Story- Episode 39

Take a moment to listen to the latest episode of the City as Playground Podcast.


In this episode, Dave and Rick continue their conversation about LF’s 40th anniversary. Together they discuss key moments, people, and ideas that contributed to the founding of the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation in 1978. Complete with words from our founder Reid Carpenter, they look at how this moment in our history has continued to blossom in Pittsburgh and inspire the love and work of LF member cities around the world. Listen here and send in any questions you would like answered to


Highway of Hope

Our members transform communities around the world by driving the LF wheel of change. This work was on clear display at a series of meetings in Nairobi in early March. Hosted by CTM Kenya, the Local Leadership Foundation, the time featured everything from board training to basketball clinics.


CTM Kenya was founded in 2006 by Gideon Ochieng with the mission of changing geography into community. One way they work toward this goal is the Highway of Hope (HOH) program in Kibera, East Africa’s largest informal settlement with a population of over 1 million people. As a part of the LF Global Youth Initiative, HOH seeks to bring hope and transform Kibera through basketball, mentoring, and educational opportunities for local youth.


The CTM Kenya team looked to the LF wheel of change to give them a framework to take on this large endeavor. They began by engaging leaders of good faith and good will across the city and shared the vision for HOH. The program would cytotec online qatar build the capacity of local leaders by providing them mentoring and basketball skills training. These leaders would then be able to deliver a robust joint initiative to local youth at the 16 courts that would be built in Kibera. The idea resonated with the community, government officials like Kenneth Okoth who is a member of the Kenyan Parliament and a lifelong resident of Kibera, the local Kibera Basketball Association, and principals of government and faith-based schools in the area.


Over the last few years, HOH has gained momentum. They have built courts and had diverse partners from around the world like the Jr. NBA, Texas A&M, and Athletes In Action join the work. Earlier this month, the partners came together to provide training to mentors and coaches, deliver programming to 140 athletes from Kibera, and connect the youth to other resources in the community.


Antony Maina, the Principal of Little Prince Primary School shared, “What makes basketball most important [for the youth] is the presence of an adult. They need a mentor, someone that can help them make correct choices. Someone who transmits not only a skill, but a way of life. Because, essentially, at the end of it all, it’s about how they live their life.”


That is the hope; that as CTM Kenya and other LLFs around the world drive the wheel of change, individual lives are transformed and communities like Kibera become more like playgrounds.


Click here to watch a short video about the Highway of Hope project.

A 40 Year Legacy- Episode 38

Take a moment to listen to the latest episode of the City as Playground Podcast.


In 2018, Leadership Foundations marks its 40th anniversary. In this episode, Dave and Rick discuss the importance of remembrance and set up our next podcast series which will explore significant events over the last 40 years that have brought us to where we are today and position the LF network for the next decades of impact. Listen here and send in any questions you would like answered to


Board Training Initiative

William Blake famously stated, “Execution is the chariot of genius.” Execution can take on many different forms, or “chariots.” Often, for nonprofits, chariots are programmatic in nature: youth, housing, and the like. For example, we desire good health care for the underserved, so we create a clinic. Efforts like this are good and should be roundly applauded. However, and for the long-term health of an organization, there are other important chariots.


Nowhere does a chariot take on a deeper meaning than boards of directors. Over the years we have come to believe that the primary determinant of the success or failure of LF members and partners is the state of their boards. Boards are the proverbial canary in the mineshaft: healthy boards equal a healthy organization; unhealthy boards equal an unhealthy organization.


Two years ago, LF was approached by the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust to participate in a program to strengthen boards. The Trust came to recognize their grants yielded a much better return on investment if the grantees had healthy boards. They also recognized that in order to scale this program they would need partners who not only share this vision but also have the capacity to execute it. The Trust asked LF to apply and we received a three-year grant to provide training to 30 LF members and partners globally. We call it the Board Training Initiative (BTI).


Over these first two years of the BTI, LF has developed a curriculum and has trained 15 LLFs and partners with plans to train another 15 next year. Sam Skillern, Executive Director of the Salem Leadership Foundation, reflected on their organization’s experience in the BTI, “Even an organization that’s been effective and healthy for 21 years can learn new ideas and deepen proven practices.  The LF Board Training Initiative was time and treasure well spent.  The training not only provided sound and useful information, it was fun and relational. As a result of the time, board meetings are more focused, more interesting, more inspiring, and more generative.” The program has been so successful that the LF members in Africa have created a contextualized version of the BTI that will launch next year.


At its core the BTI builds more effective boards- the chariots that allow its participants to execute their mission more faithfully as they help make cities more like playgrounds.

Eucharistic Leadership Review- Episode 37

Take a moment to listen to the latest episode of the City as Playground Podcast.


How does the Eucharist impact and shape leadership? In this episode, Dave and Rick look back on the last 10 months and our dive into the idea of Eucharistic leadership and its four movements- taken, blessed, broken, and given. Together they discuss the key questions and lessons that surfaced and the implications these have for our leadership and everyday lives.


Wheel of Change

Leadership Foundations is in the business of transforming cities. But, how can this kind of large-scale change actually take place? We believe that leadership, committed to an entire city over time, is the key to transformation. Through over 40 years of field-tested work we have created a theory of change that equips our members to take on their city’s greatest challenges. These leaders drive the wheel of change in their cities through our three functions: engaging leaders of good faith and good will, building the capacity of others, and developing joint initiatives. Through consistent application of these three functions to a particular place, cities do in fact get better.


Our members want to see their cities transformed, and we want to help them do this in practical ways that make their communities more whole. That is why we focus on resourcing our network. We do this by connecting, developing, and equipping them through a variety of key services. Whether it is the support of a Senior Associate, a veteran coach and mentor assigned to each member, or using the Stages of Impact tool to develop a plan to deepen their impact and effective use of the three functions, we are working to strengthen our members. This commitment to developing the leadership in our network makes our members better, which in turn makes our cities better.


Around the world, Local Leadership Foundations are using the LF wheel of change to transform their cities. As we begin 2018, we are excited to report that our members are doing just that: driving positive permanent improvement in their cities, making them more like playgrounds.


Watch our video to learn more about the powerful work Leadership Foundations is doing in cities around the world through the wheel of change.

Eucharistic Leadership: Given- Episode 36

Take a moment to listen to the latest episode of the City as Playground Podcast.


What is the purpose of being given and how does it impact leadership? In this episode, Dave and Rick talk with Jack Fortin, Chair of the Leadership Foundations Board and Senior Fellow at Augsburg College, about the importance of this action in Eucharistic leadership- being given for the sake of our community. They explore the idea of being given power so that we, individually and corporately, may give it away to others, thereby acting as servant leaders and establishing trustworthiness, which is central to giving.