Assessing the Impact and Effectiveness of a Community Leadership Development Program on Black Leaders

Community leaders working in Black communities are faced with countless challenges yet require unique skills for which evidence-based training is often limited or difficult to find. The current study employed a mixed-methods approach using archival data to evaluate a promising and much needed neighborhood leadership program for Black community leaders, the Bunting Neighborhood Leadership Program. The three primary foci of the program were to examine who were selected as fellows, the goals fellows presented with upon entering the program, and the primary outcomes following immediate program completion and follow-up. Nineteen fellows have matriculated through the program, and all completed pre- and post-surveys, and were each contacted about current awards and other leadership successes. Additionally, seven fellows were interviewed about their experiences with and outcomes following the program. Surveys demonstrated important gains in knowledge and skill development for fellows. Following participation, many fellows developed their own organizations, and some secured funding and received awards for their community leadership work. Three key themes emerged from coded interviews, namely (1) characteristics of those who seek a community leadership training, (2) successes in community impact and activities observed among fellows following program completion, and (3) skills-based outcomes for fellows following program completion. The COVID-19 pandemic and killings of Black civilians by police also impacted participants’ responses. The role of blackness in Black community leadership was observed across themes that emerged. Overall, this is a promising community leadership program with important implications for leaders who serve Black communities.