Community Leadership Learning Initiative

What is The Community Leadership Learning Initiative?

The Community Leadership Learning Initiative is a story-based learning community. Our learning community brings people together, across the country and working in different sectors, to lift up absent narratives about leadership. 

CLLI was launched in 2019 with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Our goal is to deepen our collective understanding of community-driven leadership, while raising the visibility and demonstrating the value of this powerful work to the field of philanthropy and the broader ecosystem of leadership and community development. 

We hope to co-create a shared narrative about what constitutes healthy and vibrant community leadership.  

Who Participates in the CLLI?

Anyone interested in understanding collective, community-centered leadership can register and participate in our monthly learning opportunities. These are iterative conversations where new and returning learners can easily engage to deepen their knowledge.  

Together, our learning community explores topics such as: 

  • What does collective leadership look like when operating from a cultural context? 
  • How does a community’s cultural practices impact their authorship of their lives and future? 
  • What are the conditions and supports that allow natural community systems to flourish and evolve? 

Community Storytelling Partners  

Through the CLLI, Nexus and four community storytelling grantees come together to share our stories and to deepen our collective work. Together, we will cultivate a collection of case studies and stories curated by communities that explore the intersection of culture and leadership using Nexus’ framework for community engagement.  Learning is guided by, and grounded in, the stories rising out of each of our storytelling partners, drawing themes and making meaning across examples.  

Stay tuned for opportunities to learn with each grantee partner – Coming in Fall 2020! 


Food for the Spirit (Buffalo, NY)  

Storytellers from communities experiencing the highest rates of chronic illness because of food apartheid will be equipped and empowered to tell their stories of a new food economy in Buffalo. Initiatives, businesses, and services created by community members and for community are supporting food justice, equity and sovereignty.  

Intergenerational Multilingual Storytelling Soundscapes (Boston, MA)  

Local immigrant community residents, interpreters, and leaders will engage in collaborative storytelling to promote language justice. The project builds solidarity through non-hierarchal convivir (living life together), a cultural practice that highlights the centrality of relationship in community building. By weaving participatory arts, interpretation, and popular education, they will create and share a virtual soundscape of personal narratives in multiple languages.  

Starseed Earthroot (District of Columbia)  

Starseed Earthroot is a collective of Queer, Trans, Black and Indigenous People of Color who are working towards liberation for our people by reclaiming food sovereignty, creative independence and healing. They will be holding space with community to discuss consent-based collaborations and initiatives.   

Together Baton Rouge, Spirit & Justice (Baton Rouge, LA)  

This project engages multiple constituencies across Together Baton Rouge member institutions to create a storytelling product that highlights collective, community-led practices of relationship-building and leadership capacity-building. Partners will incorporate a new process that allows community members to reflect upon and deepen their growth as leaders as they shift power structures.  

Read the Storytelling Engagement Project Criteria here