Close-Up Talk Radio spotlights Heartland Foundation
St. Joseph 10/09/2012 07:25 PM GMT (TransWorldNews)
The Northwest Missouri region has been hit hard by the recession, but these communities are beginning to show signs of life thanks to the efforts of Heartland Foundation.
For nearly 20 years, Heartland Foundation has created opportunities for healthier, more livable communities. A region-wide endeavor, Heartland Foundation’s role is to serve as a catalyst, bringing people and organizations together to affect positive change in their communities.
Originally founded in 1982 as a traditional foundation to raise money for hospital projects, Heartland Foundation has since evolved into one of the country’s strongest and most active public charities, dedicated to addressing issues facing communities in decline.
“We’re really looking at how you build healthier communities in the broadest sense,” says Judith Sabbert, chief operating officer of Heartland Foundation. “We’re inviting people from all walks of life to be involved in the critical conversations about their community.”
Heartland Foundation is committed to find long-term solutions, creating better health for the 30-county region it serves (northwest Missouri and adjacent counties in Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa). Through collaborative-based programs, Heartland Foundation has taken a leading role in efforts to improve health and quality of life.
“Our role is to facilitate these discussions and invite the important questions,” says Sabbert. “In every community we find people who are passionate about their communities and understand it requires everyone working together to create new opportunities.”
When engaging these communities, Heartland Foundation has found it’s most effective to engage young people. The foundation surveyed 6,000 students across 16 schools in 12 counties. The results were alarming.
“These students felt adults didn’t listen to them,” says Sabbert. “They believed the kinds of jobs they wanted to pursue wouldn’t be here when they finished school. They wanted to make a difference but didn’t feel they had the power to do so.”
Most alarmingly, three out of four students surveyed said they planned to leave the region once they’d completed their education. While the population of Missouri has tripled over the past 100 years, the population of the region has been reduced by 44%.
“We believe our role is to change the culture, so it made sense for us to focus on young people,” says Sabbert. “When we brought them to the table, they had extraordinary ideas. They began to understand they could truly make a positive difference.”
From this process, Heartland Foundation developed its flagship program emPowerU, an experiential learning center dedicated to promoting civic engagement. Since its inception in the fall of 2007, nearly 20,000 students across 100 schools have participated in the program.
“When you see young people come together, there’s a lot of satisfaction knowing individuals are making a difference for their community,” says Sabbert. “That civic engagement can truly make an extraordinary impact. We’re always looking for new relationships we can build to strengthen our communities and lead to more effective change.”
Close-Up Talk Radio will feature Heartland Foundation in a two-part interview with Doug Llewelyn on October 9th and October 16th at 1pm.
For more information about Heartland Foundation, visit www.heartlandfoundation.org