Community Learning Exchange

Learning Exchanges

Learning Exchanges began in 2008. Below is a description of each exchange held to date.

View upcoming learning exchanges.

Peacemaking and Healing: Leadership Practices for Healthy, Inclusive Communities

Hosted by: Center for Ethical Leadership

Location: Seattle WA

Date: May 15-18, 2014

View the Photos | 

Many of us have dedicated our lives to creating healthy, just and inclusive communities or what Martin Luther King Jr. called the beloved community.  He suggests this community has  “a … level of relationships among people … where justice prevails and persons attain their full human potential.”   To bring about this community requires leadership that practices a “type of spirit and type of love that can transform opposers into friends.” 

At this CLE we had teams of 3-5 people deeply exploring peacemaking and healing as critical leadership practices.  We explored questions such as: 

  • Where in your community do you need peacemaking and healing? 
  • What does peacemaking and healing look like in your community? 
  • What would a healthy and inclusive community look like to you? 
  • What are you willing to do to build your leadership practice of peacemaking and healing?

Looking Back to Move Forward: Leading for Racial Healing in Schools, Families, and Communities

Hosted by: North Eastern Leadership Academy, North Carolina State University

Location: Franklinton Center at Bricks, Whitakers, NC

Date: October 10-13, 2013

View the Photos  |  Watch the Videos

The first step toward creating change within your community is looking back to understand the past. Then, armed with that knowledge and understanding, you are able to work with others to move forward and build a brighter future.

This theme guided this Community Learning Exchange - “Looking Back to Move Forward": Leading for School, Family and Community Healing. Teams from around the country - from California and Texas to Florida and North Carolina - gathered at the Franklinton Center at Bricks in Whitakers, North Carolina. The Franklinton Center has deep historical significance in this part of the United States, and this location was the foundation for conversations about what the theme “Looking Back to Move Forward” truly means.

Each team that participated in the CLE was a mix of different leaders, each of whom brought valuable experiences and perspectives to the weekend:

  • School leader (principal, assistant principal, teacher, superintendent)
  • Youth (middle or high schooler, or recent high school graduate)
  • Community leader/activist
  • Additional school/family/community member

The Art(s) of Leadership: A CLE focused on Youth Adult Partnerships

Hosted by: Texas State University, College of Education

Location: San Marcos, TX

Date: July 25-28, 2013

View the Photos  |  Watch the Videos

This CLE illustrated the importance of youth voices in the Collective Leadership process. Of the 70 participants, half were under the age of 25, and they came as teams that included adults to do strategic and policy planning to improve their own communities, whether they were from North Carolina, Minnesota, Texas, Maryland, or somewhere in between.

Realigning Systems to Support the Well-Being of Families and Children

Hosted by: Hawai'inuiakea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, University of Hawaii Manoa

Location: Honolulu, HI

Date: June 5-9, 2013

In partnership with the University of Hawaii School of Hawaiian Knowledge, this learning exchange focused on reclaiming cultural wisdom as a source of community wellbeing. 

ʻAʻohe hana nui ke alo ʻia (No task is too big when done together by all) was the theme of this Learning Exchange, which we co-hosted with Engaging Communities in Education initiative. The focus was on reclaiming cultural wisdom as a source of community wellbeing.  The goal was to re-imagine how systems can align more meaningfully across similar and dissimilar organizations in and across local communities, and across both geographical and philosophical boundaries. Embedded in native Hawaiian culture for the learning exchange, we used a “go to the source” model to help participants honor their our own cultures, histories, spirits, and connection to place in order to build strong relationships capable of sustaining their communities. Throughout the Learning Exchange community teams looked to the roots of culture and language to explore how to create more innovative systems to support and engage families and children. This focus provided a solid foundation upon which to support stronger infrastructure capable of building stronger and healthier families.

An exciting mix of communities participated: the Salish/Kootenai, Lummi, Seneca, White Clay, Acoma, and Laguna tribal nations; the National Rites of Passage; Llano Grande Center; and groups from across the Hawaiian islands – Ka Honua Momona, Aha Punana Leo, Kauhale o Waini’anae, INPEACE, and Kamehameha Schools.

To learn more about the “Go to the Source” work read the book, "Indigenous Models for Contemporary Practice: In Our Mother’s Voice"

View photos from the CLE | Watch the Videos | Read about the Makua Series

Reclaiming Education as a tool for Healing

Hosted by: Salish Kootenai College

Location: Pablo, MT

Date: August 16-19, 2012

This CLE explored the roots of the traumatic relationship between the Salish, Kootenai and Pend d’Oreille people and western education, and provided opportunities to share how Indian communities and tribes are now reclaiming education as a tool for healing and leadership within their communities. Over the 3 days, many people shared stories of how they have started to rebuild both the education system and their culture. Participants also spent time planning action steps to bring home with them to reclaim the education systems in their own communities to bring more healing and hope.

Education has always been a part of the lives of the Salish, Kootenai and Pend d'Oreille people. Traditionally, knowledge was passed from generation to generation to teach the skills and beliefs needed for life. Most of this knowledge was transmitted through oral traditions in individual homes and communities until the introduction of non-Native educational practices and institutions. The power of education to influence and shape one’s culture –one’s identity – was recognized by the church and state, and was employed as a tool for destroying traditional Native life. The purpose of the assimilative educational practices was to destroy Native identities, including languages, traditions, and families, and has resulted in historical trauma and collective grief passed from one generation to the next within our communities.

View photos from the CLE | Join the Group | Watch the Videos

Teach While Learning/Learn While Teaching

Hosted by: PS 24 Brooklyn

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Date: June 7-10, 2012

The P.S. 24 CLE centered on the idea that teaching and learning are profoundly connected and enhance one another. Participants explored the Sunset Park neighborhood in Brooklyn, a vibrant, densely populated, immigrant neighborhood on the Brooklyn waterfront, visited dual-language immersion and single-language classrooms, told personal stories, and listened to the stories of others to understand the power that all members of a school community can cultivate as they teach while learning and learn while teaching.

View photos from the CLE | Join the Group | Watch the Videos

The Politics of Education and Community Development: Creating Healthy Communities through Collective Leadership

Hosted by: Texas State University, San Marcos

Location: San Marcos, TX

Date: January 5-8, 2012

The CLE in San Marcos brought together twelve teams from eight states to work on their local issues in education and community development. As community teams walked the Texas State University campus and saw the statue of a young Lyndon Johnson, they shared their stories and the experiences of their communities. Just as Johnson used his stories to shape future actions, these teams imagined what they could do in their communities. To reinforce the idea that public institutions are for the people of a community, we held action-planning sessions in meeting rooms at the State Capitol in nearby Austin. At each step of the learning exchange process, the context supported the work of these teams.


View photos from the CLE | Join the Group | Watch the Videos

The Role of Public Education in our Society: What is the narrative that we create going forward?

Co-Hosted by: The Community Learning Exchange and Journalism that Matters

Location: Highlander Institute, TN

Date: September 22-25, 2011

View photos from the CLE | Read meeting notes and discussions | Watch the Videos

Weaving Strong Communities: Forming collective leadership to advance just and equitable communities

Hosted by: Center for Ethical Leadership

Location: Seattle, WA

Date: May 19-22, 2011

The Community Learning Exchange (CLE) convened in Seattle WA, and guided participants in the formation and use of collective leadership to develop deeper partnerships, broaden community dialogue and engagement, and plan concrete next steps to advance local social change initiatives. The gathering offered lessons from the new Collective Leadership Storybook: Weaving Strong Communities, written by members of the CLE network. The 60 participants came from 14 different states and Puerto Rico, and represented 12 different teams or community organizations.


View photos from the CLE | Join the Group | View the Organizational Roster | Watch the Videos | NPARC Story


National Youth Summit, Washington DC

Hosted by: U.S. Department of Education

Location: Washington, DC

Date: February 24-26, 2011

The backdrop for this CLE was the "Voices in Action: National Youth Summit." "Voices in Action" was the culminating event of a year-long listening tour by the Department of Education to learn from students ways to increase the college completion rate in the U.S. Our CLE network brought high school and college age students from 5 states to be part of the Summit and share lessons of storytelling and collective leadership as something that is working in our communities to improve high school graduation and college completion rates. Of the 400+ people at the "Voices in Action" summit, the only Native American and Native Hawaiian representatives were from the CLE network.


View Photos from the CLE | Watch the Video


Youth, Families, and Immigration Reform: A Collective Leadership approach to positioning family at the center of reform strategy

Hosted by: Augustana Lutheran Church, in partnership with Roca, Inc.

Location: Washington, DC

Date: July 14-17, 2010

Participants exchanged knowledge and practices that support family cohesion in an increasingly hostile anti-immigrant environment. This timely CLE offered participating institutions and organizations serving undocumented populations an opportunity to map out strategies for influencing the immigration reform debate, and educating local policy makers and opinion leaders about enforcement options that are least injurious to families and youth. Participants came from MA, MI, CO, TX, WA and DC.
View photos from the CLE | View the brochure | Watch the video


Collective Leadership and Systems Change: Examining Poverty, Practice and Policy

Hosted by: LUPE (La Union del Pueblo Entero) and Llano Grande Center

Location: South Texas (San Juan & Edcouch, TX)

Date: April 15-18, 2010

This learning exchange helped participants understand how systems interconnect to impact people, families, and communities. Participants were immersed in the policy issues of the south Texas border through a series of policy site visits, where participants traveled to private homes to engage in house meetings, while others went to schools and other locations to talk about dual language programs, digital storytelling, and laws and policies that impact vulnerable children and families. They examined such issues as undocumented student access to higher education, street lights in colonias, inclusion of Cesar Chavez in history texts approved by Texas board of education, etc. The process of policy was demystified as participants learned how to “disrupt the system” with their stories and experiences. Teams from Hawaii, Brooklyn, Michigan, and Texas worked on shaping their own agendas for change in their communities.
View the brochure | View information about the participating organizations | Download the powerpoint slides about La Union del Pueblo Entero | Download the Farm Workers Prayer


Educational Equity in Rural and Urban Communities

Hosted by: Migizi Communications of Minneapolis and New Paradigm Partners of Northern Wisconsin

Location: St. Croix

Date: October 20-23, 2009

Participants learned how to cultivate collective leadership partnerships and create Gracious Space for work with public school systems that perpetuate disparities for different groups of students. Hosts demonstrated the importance of place and context by engaging local community activists in sharing cultural perspectives on equity including: Somali, Latino, African American, and rural White identities. Participants examined challenges to educational equity that they face in their communities, shared successful approaches, and developed plans for moving past those obstacles. The exchange highlighted the new media work of Native American youth regarding the media images of Native Americans, and the healing and forgiveness needed in communities of color.
View the event brochure


Building Strategies Across Race and Class: Forging Relationships for Social Change

Hosted by: Public Policy And Education Fund Of New York in Buffalo, New York

Location: Buffalo, NY

Date:August 6-9, 2009

Community change agents learned how to incorporate proven principles of racial equity into their social change organizing efforts. It examined the roles power and race play in creating strategies. Provided methods that community leaders can use to track their own growth as well as strategies for developing the skills of others. The Buffalo hosts were particularly skilled in translating abstract social equity intentions into concrete and actionable strategies for change. Buffalo provided a powerful setting for this exploration with the Erie Canal, Underground railroad, and Colored Musicians Club. All are examples of how the local context has played a pivotal role in creating the current race and class dynamics in this US/Canadian border town.
Watch the video | View event brochure | View photos from the CLE | View forums connected to event


New Mexico CLE, 2009

Hosted by: Laguna Department of Education

Location: near Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Date: March 17-20, 2009

This Exchange illuminated how the Laguna and Acoma pueblos have used storytelling to claim and maintain core identity through centuries of outside influence. The power of language, history and the culture of place were presented as a source of collective identity and grounding for moving forward in the 21st century – particularly through education in the schools. CLE participants experienced the spirit of Acoma culture while visiting ancient Sky City and the deep hospitality and generosity of the Laguna Pueblo during the feast day of St. Joseph. A strong theme was the importance of working across the generations to engage youth, adults and elders in partnership.

View photos from the CLE


Massachusetts CLE, 2008

Hosted by: Roca inc.

Location: Chelsea, Massachusetts

Date: November 6-9, 2008

This Exchange showcased how Roca’s Immigrant and Refugee Initiative (RIRI) has organized, partnered and mobilized young people and adults in the community around immigration, advocacy and policy. Participants learned how to strengthen youth and adult partnerships and to use the peacemaking circles process to promote collective leadership among community change agents. They also used the arts to build relationships and engagement. The Chelsea learning exchange spotlighted Roca’s “Know Your Rights” campaign to help undocumented residents during a season of aggressive immigration enforcement raids that were splitting many families and communities.


South Texas CLE, 2008

Hosted by: Llano Grande Center for Research and Community Development

Location: Edcouch/Elsa, Texas

Date: May 15-18, 2008

Situated in a predominantly Mexican-American community on the south Texas border, this Exchange highlighted how the Llano Grande uses youth-adult partnerships and digital storytelling to effect change in teaching and learning. Participants learned about process of telling story, analyzing story and constructing new stories to bring about change. Featured local projects included high school students working to persuade elected officials to clean up a toxic site in the middle of a residential area, a community group overseeing construction of new schools after passing a multi-million-dollar bond issue, and community-school partnerships in surrounding communities.

© 2018   Created by steve stapleton.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service