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U of U and Community Partners Team Up to Create Westside Leadership Institute

February 25, 2004 — The University of Utah’s University Neighborhood Partners (UNP), Salt Lake Neighborhood Housing Services (SLNHS) and the Salt Lake City’s Weed and Seed Program are joining forces to create the Westside Leadership Institute, a long-term project designed to support the development of local resident leadership on the West Side of Salt Lake City, which includes the area between 2100 S. north to the Davis County line; and from State Street west to Interstate 215.

This Saturday, Feb. 28, from 1 until 2:30 p.m., sponsors of the initiative will host a kick off celebration in the Utah State Fairpark Conference Center, located at 200 N. 1000 W. The event, free and open to the public, will feature University of Utah head football coach Urban Meyer and a motivational program by J. Otis Smith, a nationally-known community organizer.

The Westside Leadership Institute’s first project will be a six-week course on leadership for 20 West Side residents over the age of 18 who apply to the program. Classes will be held from 5:30 until 8:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday evenings at the offices of Neighborhood Housing Services, located at 622 W. 500 N. The course will begin March 26 and run through May 15 and costs $90. Applications, due to Neighborhood Housing Services by March 5, are available at the UNP office (1060 S. 900 W.) or may be obtained by going to

“All three partners involved in the creation of the institute have worked in neighborhoods on the West Side of Salt Lake City. All have learned that supporting the development of local leadership is extremely important for creating strong communities,” notes Sarah Munro, director of outreach for UNP.

“The residents are the lifeline to a neighborhood,” explains Michael Plaizier, president of the board of SLNHS. “Our organizations are coming together to support these residents.”

The new course will be based on the LeadershipPLENTY Training Program, developed by the PEW Partnership for Civic Change, and will be taught by faculty from the University of Utah and interested nonprofit organizations. Topics will include running successful meetings, dealing with conflict, turning ideas into action and creating effective partnerships.

Each seminar participant will develop an idea for a community project. Upon course completion, participants will have the opportunity to apply for a “modest amount of funding,” Munro notes, to implement the projects. At that time the institute will encourage each program graduate to seek a role in a decision-making body, whether it be a city planning committee, school board, nonprofit organization or community council.

“Our goal is to eventually offer two institute courses a year, in the fall and in the spring,” notes Munro.