This project addresses the negative public perception and lack of academic achievement in Cleveland, Texas, with needed strategic direction through the use of assets based in the community. The project focused specifically on identifying leadership connections for a collaborative effort utilizing internal resources and gifts to build the necessary bridges for like-minded leaders to journey together toward transformation.
The Hope for Cleveland project focused on the challenge of connecting city, civic, faith-based and academic organizations in order to promote relational unity necessary for change. One possible limitation could have occurred with Cleveland Independent School District leadership. Once the school superintendent identified value in the project, access was granted, and a team formed to analyze and act based on the presentation of qualitative data gathered during interviews, observations, focus group discussion, and project presentations coupled with short surveys. Local church leadership appreciated the information but chose to remain internally-focused congregations, therefore playing no role in the hub for collective activity. These methods allowed the Hope for Cleveland project to observe how neighbors and community leaders currently operate while interpreting the actions driving the values and decisions in this small town. The principle conclusion is that a well-informed team of high functioning leaders with identified assets based in the community of Cleveland can begin making necessary change for the future by connecting, coordinating, and collaborating.