TLC Graduates Five Groups from Leadership Training Program

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June 23, 2014 – On Saturday, June 14, leaders from five local grassroots and nonprofit organizations celebrated their completion of The Leadership Classroom (TLC). TLC is an eight-month leadership training initiative offered by the Central New York Community Foundation. Participants are community and nonprofit representatives who want to learn advanced leadership skills alongside other neighborhood leaders in an interactive setting. After participating in monthly training sessions, each group receives a $3,500 grant to implement a community project that is proposed and planned during their training.

One of this year’s graduates, The Bhutanese Community in Syracuse Inc. (BCS), is an active cultural organization on the Northside of Syracuse. BCS offers cultural, family and youth development activities for resettled Bhutanese refugees.

Participants from BCS were among the youngest leaders to participate in TLC. They entered the program seeking ways to help other refugees engage as citizens within the greater Syracuse community. BCS team leader, Praja Shapkota, says it is important for refugees and new settlers to not be limited by culture or language.

“Most of our youth were brought up in refugee camps and what they have known is nothing much outside of Nepal,” said Praja. “Without exposure, the mind doesn’t open up that easily so they need to go out and meet with people to understand how others feel and then understand how to work within the community.”

To do this, BCS will use their TLC grant to pilot an English-as-Second-Language (ESL) Citizenship class to better prepare Bhutanese refugees for their citizenship test.

The Butternut Community Police Center enables young people to realize their full potential as productive, responsible, and caring citizens. They will use their grant to refurbish a trailer that will house and transport camping equipment for youth who attend the Center.

The Somali-Bantu Community Association of Onondaga County provides assistance, training and advocacy for resettled refugees. They will use their grant to design an inter-community soccer tournament to foster healthy engagement for the various cultural communities in and around Pioneer Homes.

T.E.A.M R.O.C.K is a Syracuse-based inner-city mentoring program for young girls. T.E.A.M R.O.C.K will use their grant funds to take young girls on a camping adventure which includes team building transformative activities and restricts social media use.

Reading 4 ME is a new group working to cultivate a culture and appreciation for reading in youth. Reading 4 ME will host a literary arts competition targeting youth on the South and Southwest sides of Syracuse.

“The Community Foundation is proud to collaborate with and support these inspiring community leaders who are working every day to improve their neighborhoods and our community,” said Olive Sephuma, Director of Community Grantmaking at the Community Foundation. “We congratulate them on their graduation and welcome them to our growing network of TLC alumni.”

The Leadership Classroom is an initiative of the Central New York Community Foundation. Established in 1927, the Central New York Community Foundation encourages local philanthropy by supporting the growth of permanent charitable endowments for the betterment of the region.  The Community Foundation is the largest charitable foundation in the region with assets of more than $172 million. It awarded $9.5 million in grants last year to nonprofit organizations and since its inception has invested nearly $130 million in the community. The Community Foundation serves as the steward of charitable legacies for individuals, families and businesses through the administration of nearly 650 funds. The organization also serves as a civic leader, convener and sponsor of special initiatives designed to strengthen local nonprofits and address the region’s most pressing challenges. For more information, visit

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