Future Search The Method

August, 25, 2004

Dear Community Members, Volunteers and Others,

    For three years, we have been working to build world-class communities. And it is because of your work that we have been able to accomplish so much. With your help, CWCC programs like Bridges to Digital Excellence, Community-Wide Diversity Training, Law Enforcement Diversity Training, smART (Southwest Michigan Arts for Real-World Training), Connecting the Communities events and others have impacted many residents throughout Southwest Michigan.

    We have been able to establish countless relationships with businesses, organizations and individuals in our region. And it is these collaborations that have furthered our efforts to build an inclusive community that leaves no one behind. Three organizations that the CWCC has a history of collaborating with are the Citizens for Progressive Change, the Community Partnership for Lifelong Learning, and Cornerstone Alliance. In the coming months and years, we will be strengthening that relationship.

    An important announcement will be made today at noon concerning an alignment involving our four organizations. The chairpersons of CPC, CPLL, Cornerstone and CWCC will announce the formation of a new entity, The Alliance for World-Class Communities. This new Alliance will focus on civic involvement as well as economic, educational, and community development across Michigan's Great Southwest. The Alliance will provide a shared vision and strategic direction for all four organizations as well as provide a means for collaboration on major issues and projects.

    The Alliance has a collective board consisting of representatives from all four organizations. At the collective board's last meeting, CWCC Chairman Dave Whitwam was nominated and accepted the position of chairman of The Alliance board. Due to his nomination, Dave will soon be stepping down as chairman of the CWCC board. However, his commitment to the CWCC and to building a region where diversity and inclusion are the foundation will continue, as will his support and involvement.

    Also this morning, at a regularly scheduled planning meeting of The Alliance board, I was nominated and elected to serve as president and CEO of The Alliance. This nomination means that I, too, must soon step down from my responsibilities at the CWCC. However, as president and CEO of The Alliance, I will continue to be actively involved in the CWCC's programs and work closely with the CWCC board. I am confident that we will be able to find a strong president and executive director to lead the CWCC through its next stages.

    What does this mean for CWCC?

    In large part, CWCC will continue to function as it has for the last three years. We will continue to provide diversity education and training as well as deliver meaningful programs in our domain and alliance team focus areas.

    In fact, all of the member organizations of the Alliance for World-Class Communities will maintain their separate, visible, established identities. Each organization will also continue to have a president or executive director, its own board of directors and autonomy over its day-to-day operations. By working collaboratively on large strategic projects, each organization will be able to hone and focus its work for greater impact in its area of expertise.

    One notable change will be that Bridges to Digital Excellence (BDE) will no longer function as a part of the CWCC. BDE, an education-focused program will be joining with the CPLL, currently an operating unit of Cornerstone Alliance.

    As part of the alignment process, CPLL will gain more autonomy and no longer be an operating unit of Cornerstone Alliance. We at the CWCC have enjoyed working to provide a foundation for the BDE program and will continue to support its efforts, along with those of other member organizations and programs involved in The Alliance.

    What type of staffing and board changes will there be?
    We do not anticipate any layoffs. However, some employees may be working in different functions. The Alliance will act as a management service organization and will provide financial and accounting services, fundraising support, human resources functions, and technical support to the CPLL, CWCC, and Cornerstone and as needed for initial capacity development to the CPC. The Alliance president and CEO will oversee the planning and operation of shared services and personnel.

    Each organization will retain its current identity and focus, which includes its board of directors and management of day-to-day operations and execution of strategic initiatives. Some of the organizations may choose to change the structure of their board to better reflect the focus of the respective organizations.

    The CWCC has four representatives serving on The Alliance board. They are Dave Whitwam, Mark Mitchell, Mabel Johnson Mayfield, and Isiah Newson.

    What other types of changes will there be?
    The staff of the CWCC will be relocating to 38 West Wall Street, the current Cornerstone offices, where The Alliance will also be located.

    For now, the plan is for BDE classes to continue operating out of the current CWCC building until fall classes are over. At some point, however, it is hoped that the BDE program, Homeownership Institute, diversity training programs, and possibly a family literacy center will all be housed under one roof near the Alliance offices.

    The alignment process will take several months to complete. The target is by the beginning of 2005, with physical consolidation of staff to begin in the later part of this year.

    Why are these organizations merging?
    The organizations are not merging. They are embarking on a strategy to align their visioning processes into a common collaborative effort. They will remain independent with an autonomous board and separate operating structure. Operational execution will remain the same.

    What is the benefit of the alignment process?
    All of the organizations involved in this process are very important to the future of our communities. Each truly complements the other. You cannot have successful economic development without successful community and educational development as well as citizen involvement. By these organizations working together, it will create an organization with the ability and commitment to implement the strategies to truly improve the quality of life in our region.

    The new integrated structure will allow for better focus and higher levels of accountability at the staff and board levels of all the respective member organizations. Other benefits include:

    • A structured mechanism to integrate the strategies of each organization within the framed overarching vision of the community.
    • Mechanisms to collectively define the opportunities sought as a community and recognize the obstacles that exist.
    • Each organization will become more focused on its specialized area.
    • Better use and leveraging of resources.
    • Eliminate duplication and overlapping goals and projects.

    What about funding?
    Funding will continue to come from the traditional sources: Whirlpool Corporation, other business partners, individual investors, foundations, and grant sources as well as state and federal funding for specific projects.

    What's next?
    At our next domain meeting, I will be happy to discuss the alignment further with you and answer any other questions you may have. If you have any immediate questions, please feel free to contact the CWCC office at 269-934-9286.

    Again thank you for all that you have done over the years and all the lives you have helped us touch due to the work and dedication you have committed to the CWCC.


    Mark S. Mitchell
    President and Executive Director
    Council for World-Class Communities


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