The Horizons program helps rural communities of fewer than 5,000 strengthen their leadership systems. It offers comprehensive community leadership programs and activities within communities that involve citizens in identifying, training, supporting, and retaining local people in leadership roles.
The Horizons program is funded by the Northwest Area Foundation and works through Iowa State University Extension, the partner organization, that already has relationships with small rural Iowa communities.
Phase I – Attend an Informational Meeting – July/August, 2008
Phase II – Communtiy Study Circles learn about poverty – September/November, 2008
Phase III – Leadership development for citizens – January/May, 2009
Phase IV – Create a community vision and develop strategies – June/September, 2009
Phase V –Implementation – September, 2009/March, 2010
Spotlights are information meetings held throughout the state for all invited communities that meet the participation criteria, 500-5,000 residents with at least a 10 percent poverty rate. The purposes of a Spotlight are to explain Horizons project, describe expectations of communities, and to invite communities to apply.Phase II – Community Study Circles learn about poverty – November, 2006 - March, 2007
Study Circles are a process for public dialogue and community change. This process begins with community organizing, and is followed by facilitated, small-group dialogue that leads to a range of outcomes. Study circles don't advocate a particular solution. Instead, they welcome many points of view around a shared concern. Study circles use discussion materials which set up a framework for the conversation. People begin with personal stories, move on to a discussion of the issue, including data or other relevant factual material. Participants examine the issue from many points of view, consider many possible approaches, and ultimately, develop ideas for action and change. Three action items from each Study Circle are presented at a Community Forum where one will be selected for carry out.
LeadershipPlenty® builds on individual experiences to develop a community leadership. This program offers civic leadership training to those that might not consider themselves leaders, but have much to offer their communities. It is an experiential and practical tool for training emerging leaders. During this phase communities define leadership as collective, rather than individual actions and directly engage people living in poverty in leadership training, action planning, and the life of the community.Phase IV – Create a community vision and develop strategies – August/October, 2007
In Visioning and Planning phase, the community is mobilized to create and adopt a shared vision for the future. Community members plan for building a healthy, thriving community that results in poverty reduction and growth.Phase V – Implementation – November, 2007 - June, 2008
Horizon communities take steps to link action to poverty reduction and community growth. Structures are in place that continuously recruit and welcome new leaders.
Read about Horizons Iowa pilot project in the 2004 ISU Extension Connections.