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USC Murray Center Launches Faith Leaders Institute
By Cora Jackson-Fossett (Religion Editor)
Published July 10, 2014

Rev. Dr. Cecil L. Murray

The USC Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement (CMCCE) aims to empower non-profits to become ‘community change agents.’

Armed with a grant from the California Endowment, the CMCCE created the Faith Leaders Institute (FLI) to teach 50 leaders from faith-based organizations in reimagining their neighborhoods.

“Our goal is to carry forth the vision of the Rev. Dr. Cecil “Chip” Murray to see faith communities actively and productively engaging the public square,” said the Rev. Mark Whitlock, CMCCE Executive Director.

“Through FLI, we hope to equip representatives of multi-faith and multi-cultural organizations with the foundational training needed to revitalize and transform their local communities.”

According to the Rev. Dr. Najuma Smith, CMCCE Program Manager, the FLI curriculum covers leadership, community and organizational assessment, developing a vision for changing communities, community development, civic engagement, governance, stemming youth violence, fundraising, and financial literacy.

“The courses are scheduled over an eight-week period starting August 14 through October 2. Candidates who successfully finish the program will have an opportunity to apply for the FLI Intensive Retreat,” said Dr. Smith.

“Also, the program includes an ongoing relationship with the Murray Center for technical assistance for up to three years following completion of the Faith Leaders Institute.”

There are no academic requirements to participate in the FLI, however, organizations should have an interest in community programs, in operation for at least two years, employ two to 10 staff, and have an annual budget of $100,000 or more.

In addition, organizations must be located in South Los Angeles, Boyle Heights, Long Beach or Santa Ana.

Students will be measured on program attendance, participation, a five-page final paper, a group community project and active participation in the Annual City-Wide Community Development Summit.

They will also have the opportunity to network with congregations, funders, nonprofit organizations, and local and state public officials, including Christ Our Redeemer Church, West Angeles Community Development Corporation, Crenshaw Christian Center, Homeboy Industries, City of Refuge, Bank of America, Union Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, the Economic Development Administration, Vermont-Slauson Economic Development Corporation, California Community Foundation, and the California Endowment.

The deadline to apply is Friday, July 18, at 5 p.m.  For information, email Dr. Smith at or call (213) 743-1958.



Categories: Religion

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