In Beaverton, a boom in the population of immigrants, refugees, and communities of color—particularly over the past few decades—has highlighted the need to ensure that these communities are involved in decision-making about core issues in which the city is engaged. Recognizing changing demographics and the gap that exists between city government led the city to partner with United Oregon to develop a leadership program targeting immigrants, refugees and people of color.
The BOLD program is designed around three simple goals:
Project Summary :
In partnership with the nonprofit Unite Oregon, the city developed a free leadership program targeting immigrants, refugees, and people of color intended to promote civic engagement and encourage diversity in city leadership positions. The Beaverton Organizing and Leadership Development (BOLD) program, is a key strategy of the Cultural Inclusion program to boost engagement of underrepresented communities in city government.
BOLD is an investment in seeking out and facilitating engagement of these communities, not only through direct contact with individual participants but also through the bridges that are created between these natural ambassadors and their communities to bring more voices to the table. BOLD provides a structure and clear path by which emerging leaders from these communities can become oriented and empowered to participate in decisions that affect their lives and communities.
BOLD seeks to identify, engage, and train emerging leaders from immigrant and refugee communities and communities of color interested in city government and advocacy at the local level.
BOLD is a unique and dedicated space for immigrants, refugees and other people of color to come together in Beaverton, discover their common goals and struggles, and find support to pursue community leadership opportunities. BOLD brings together an incredible cross-section of the Beaverton community, with as many as 15 different countries represented in a single cohort.
The program is offered free of cost to participants and interpretation is provided each year in multiple languages to accommodate participation by English Language Learners. The cohorts are also intentionally intergenerational, with participants ranging from high school to retirement age. The BOLD Program has taken a very significant step toward building more diverse leadership in Beaverton’s city government. It has provided a vehicle through which to invest in community leadership and to establish connections to underrepresented communities—one of the principal challenges facing the field of public involvement.
The BOLD Program has now graduated five cohorts and over 100 participants. The program includes three full days of hands-on sessions focused on building leadership, community organizing, and advocacy skills; strengthening cross-cultural understanding and solidarity; and providing an in-depth orientation to city government and opportunities for engagement.
The program primarily uses a popular education model, building on the knowledge and experiences of participants. Training days include city-led modules that introduce participants to city staff and elected officials, systems and processes, and concrete skills such as how to give public testimony. In addition to the core training days, the program engages participants in a presentation to city council, an information and application session for city boards and commissions, alumni events, and more activities throughout the year. BOLD is possible through a strong partnership with Unite Oregon, a grassroots community-based organization with expertise in engaging immigrant and refugee communities.
Since its founding, more than 100 people have participated.
The BOLD program has been recognized on a national level by the National League of Cities and the Welcoming Cities and Counties initiative as an innovative approach to engaging underrepresented populations in local government.
The 2016 Public Involvement Best Practices Award from the International Association for Public Participation Cascade Chapter was awarded to Beaverton’s BOLD program for its innovative approach to engaging historically underrepresented populations in the community.
Success of the program is measured by tracking the community involvement of individual participants after graduation from BOLD. Activities such as lobbying at the city or state level, serving on city or community boards, participating in committees and action planning, and other key community leadership positions have been documented as strong indicators of success.
More than half of participants engage in supplemental activities after graduating and a significant percentage take on volunteer roles ranging from short term to multi-year commitments.
Perhaps one of the strongest measures of success is that BOLD graduates have now served on at least eight of the city’s standing advisory boards and commissions and a series of other city committees, demonstrating long-term, meaningful engagement that is changing the conversation in those spaces. The ultimate goal is for BOLD graduates to also reach elected office.
BOLD Program Video
Beaverton, OR– 2018 AAC Finalist: Presentation
Alexis Ball, Equity & Inclusion Manager
City of Beaverton
12725 SW Millikan Way
Beaverton, OR 97005