Columbia chosen as one of three cities for Obama Foundation Community Leadership Corps program

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Obama Foundation is hosting a Community Leadership Corps to seek, empower, and train highly motivated young leaders with a goal to create the world they want to live in by addressing issues in the community.

The Obama foundation looked at 36 different states, and over 70 cities, and narrowed it down to Chicago, Phoenix, and  Columbia.

Officials say they wanted to emphasize geographic diversity, and wanted to find a city that would allow them to tell a unique story.

"Throughout the entire project, we really want them to define what community looks like for them but also how they step into that and how they work with others to create solutions to problems," Kelsei Wharton, a Community Associate with the Obama Foundation said. "It's really about our own inherent ability to create change so we're working with everybody to identify what that might look like for them and then provide them with the leadership skills to get there."

The program has about 50 highly motivated leaders ages 18 to 25 who have bold ideas for the future and are eager to grow as community leaders.

"I really want to create a community here for queer Latino people like myself," Danny Flores, a participant said.

Over the course of this two-day event at the Richland Main Library, young leaders will take part in workshops and trainings designed to teach them the fundamentals of organizing, creative leadership, and how to build community relationships.

"We want everybody to see they have a role in community change and we want to just create the space where we can invite them to get down and dirty while doing it," Wharton said.

Participants will also learn how to use their personal narrative and unique background to better enhance their storytelling abilities and connect with fellow participants and others in their community.

"Often times with movements, we see a face such as the civil rights movement you think of Martin Luther King when you think of the woman's movement you think of certain women that have been just tantalizing. I want everyone to realize that though there may be a face to a movement each of us have our own part to play and I think the Community Leadership Corps shines on that," Hazel Bridges, a participant said. "There are so many other people behind the scenes ensuring that the wheels continue to turn and each of us have a piece that we can add to the puzzle."

In total, this is a six-month program. By the end of the two-day workshop, participants will identify an issue in their community they would like to address and recruit others to join their project team by the end of the summer.

"When you're able to talk with other leaders to hear their passions it makes you re-evaluate your own. It makes you have reassurance of what you're doing and also to shift if you're not doing what you need to do to get results." Bridges said.

In August, participants and project team members will come together for a three-day boot camp to refine their action plans and get additional training to take their projects forward.

For more information on the Community Leadership corps, visit their website.