MANSFIELD ─ The Chamber Foundation is accepting applications for the Leadership Unlimited program, which will begin in September.
Established in 1982, the program cancelled the 2020-21 session due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The foundation manager Nikki Lewis said she hopes to hold in-person sessions this year as long as the pandemic continues to trend downward.
Applicants will be asked to list three significant opportunities and/or challenges for the Mansfield and Richland County communities as part of the application. Lewis said selected issues will become topics for the monthly program day.
Since no other class has gone through COVID-19, she said she expected to receive opinions this year about local government’s performance or how diversity and inclusion have played a role in the community. Previous topics included education, drug use and mental health.
The program uses the community as a classroom and comprises business visits and different speeches. Lewis said the participants play an active role in determining what session days will look like, which differentiates the program from others.
She said 30 selected participants will be split into groups and plan their days according to an assigned topic. That includes planning visits and inviting speakers. Everyone will work on a topic that is “not in their regular day-to-day theme.”
“I want them to get outside of their comfort zone or outside of their normal thinking and look at something differently,” Lewis said.
Each program day ends with a discussion on what participants have learned and how they can use their new knowledge to better the community.
Besides making people aware of the problems, Lewis said the program helps participants find more opportunities and resources in the area and get connected. A lot of times, people do not know many things exist, although it is a small community.
“Maybe you've met new people in your class, and now you have a network of people that you can lean on if you need help with something,” she said of the benefit. “There's a lot of ways that you can take this program and make it fit in your life.”
The deadline to apply is April 16. Lewis said the three letters of recommendation need to be submitted by that day as well. The tuition is $1,500 and includes activity fees, course materials and meals.
The chamber foundation will provide limited scholarship opportunities to participants from organizations with a small budget. Lewis said an application review committee will go over the applications and determine how much assistance the foundation can offer.
More information and the application can be found at https://leadershipunlimited.org/application/. Those interested can reach Nikki Lewis at 419-522-3211 or email@example.com with questions.