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There are some who believe that we must try to turn back the clock on this new world;
that the only chance to maintain our living stan­dards is to build a fortress around America;
to stop trading with other countries, shut down immigration, and rely on old industries.
I dis­agree. Not only is it impossible to turn back the tide of globalization,
but efforts to do so can make us worse off. Rather than fear the fu­ture,
we must embrace it. I have no doubt that America can compete —
and succeed — in the 21st century. And I know as well that more
than anything else, success will depend not on our government, but on
the dynamism, determina­tion, and innovation of the American people.

Barack Obama

I-LEAD'S Mission & Vision

I-LEAD is a community-based nonprofit school that works to improve local quality of life by helping to strengthen citizens as effective community leaders.

Focusing on Pennsylvania's most challenged communities with respect to economic success, educational achievement, health status, and safety, our vision is to increase human capacity in these communities, to enable individuals to live up to their potential, and their communities to benefit from the increased capacity.

This is accomplished by focusing on three central goals:

  • Helping our students build and practice a repertoire of important leadership skillsthe skills entailed in effective dialogue, negotiation, creative leadership, systems thinking, speaking as a leader, and ethical leadership.
  • Helping our students master certain bodies of supplemental information required for effective leadership, including knowledge of public systems, private systems, political leadership, group dynamics, and understanding technology.
  • Assisting our students, partners and clients in envisioning and achieving tangible community-based leadership initiatives, in the areas of community leadership, education, community health, and technology proficiency.

Theory of Change

As our mission states, I-LEAD works to improve local quality of life. I-LEAD’s founders recognized that the key to changing any community’s prospects lay in cultivating the leadership skills and leadership capacities from within a particular place. Even when communities are in a state of distress, evidence of the presence and actions of neighborhood leaders can be identified.

Too often, however, local leadership is absent or ineffective. From this problem, many others follow, including lack of economic opportunity, education and employment, and the rise of negative elements, crime and substance abuse. Those offspring of the leadership vacuum combine to suppress, depress, and often destroy human lives. Many members of our society are not fully expressing their talents and their potential, do not fully develop as active participants in our society, and do not experience the full joys of life. As a result, our humanity and our society are unacceptably diminished.

To challenge these negative trends, we often seek to import resourcesfinancial, tangible and humanto struggling communities. In most cases, this strategy fails to change the underlying systems that create and maintain conditions of poverty and decay. Moreover, this strategy of importing resources has produced dependency and, in some cases, perversely increased deprivation. While we tend to see poverty as a problem in the fair distribution of assets, the unfair distribution of assets is only a symptom of a deeper problem involving community leadership. In many neighborhoods, while government and foundation-sponsored programs have worked effectively to eliminate specific social problems, they have failed to build the strong community leaders required to bring about the rebirth of civil society.