Emerging leaders put trust in United Way

The program is designed to teach emerging community leaders about the value of philanthropy.

Perhaps that is why the 2018 cohort of the Shafer Leadership Academy’s “Emergence Personal Foundations of Leadership” chose the United Way of Delaware County to receive the fruits of their labor.

After spending 30 hours together over the course of eight weeks, this group of 35 selected the United Way of Delaware County as the recipient of the lessons learned – their time, talent and treasure. The group used their $1,000 Shafer grant and bought supplies to prepare literacy kits for Muncie’s kindergartners, and an anonymous classmate upped the stakes by agreeing to contribute another $1,000 if the rest of the class could raise $1,000. In the end, there were 11 donors who gave $375. Add that to the match and the class gave $750, and Shafer contributed another $1,000.

“This group of people immediately brought up United Way as the place to have the greatest impact,” said Mitch Isaacs, Executive Director of Shafer Leadership Academy. “Also, important to remember is these are emerging leaders, community members in their 20s and 30s. They don’t have a lot of giving power. Yet!”

The class is more than halfway toward meeting the challenge match and Isaacs said by the time of the United Way kickoff in September, he thinks’ they’ll be there.

There have been 450 students graduate from the program over the last 11 years. That’s 450 emerging community leaders interested in greater personal development and community involvement.

On the final day of class, students are instructed to find a problem and pitch a solution.

“You’ve spent seven weeks together,” Isaacs said. “How would you use the skills you’ve learned. The group came back with five projects and was going to vote to see who would get the $1,000, but then the real collaboration happened.”

The class discussed how each of their identified problems had common themes. Help children at Muncie Community Schools. Help children with literacy. On their own, the group opted to collaborate rather than vote for the issue they individually wished to support. Collectively, they identified United Way of Delaware County as addressing all of those themes.

“United Way is working hard to put children on a pathway out of poverty through better educational outcomes. Having the 2018 Emergence class see this as the best investment for their class is really encouraging,” said Jenni Marsh, United Way President and CEO. “Through this experience, they advocated, volunteered and gave - they truly Live United.”

Emergence is designed to teach people to lead, and that means leading by collaboration, by working together to solve problems. “There’s no question that’s what happened with this group,” Isaacs said. “And there’s evidence, Isaacs said, that graduates go on to have great impact in the community.

“Data shows within five years, 75 percent of our graduates take a leadership role, either they get involved in Little League, are a deacon in church, serve on a not for profit board, or run for political office.”