Engage Winona’s Lived Experienced Leaders group members.

“[People] might feel like they don’t have the power by themselves to make a difference, but everybody really does.”
– Lived Experience Leader Participant

Engage Winona received a $10,000 Cycle 2 Community Grant from the Winona Community Foundation in 2021. This grant funded a project called Lived Experienced Leaders. This project is a mentorship and leadership program that trains and supports diverse residents with leadership tools and practices, strategies to influence community decision-making, and guidance to lead changemaking projects. The program consists of a six-month leadership workshop and mentorship arrangement for up to 15 pairs of mentors-mentees.

Recruitment for the second cohort began in July 2021, and 12 participants were recruited during this time from the Winona community. The participants were supported by a facilitator/mentor team of 7, and the cohort met for 10 workshop gatherings between October 2021-April 2022. Participants also met with mentors outside of workshops and had access to additional training opportunities. The outcomes Engage Winona sought to deliver were:

Outcome 1: Mentorship matches and leadership training

For the second cohort, Lived Experience Leaders will recruit and connect up to 15 pairs of mentor-mentees and incentivize participation. The program will build participants’ skills for participating on boards and other groups; and provide tools, training and resources to design and launch changemaking projects. Mentors will use a coaching framework; mentees will have specific tools to accomplish the outcomes they seek.

Outcome 2: Community change projects or areas of service

Each program participant will receive coaching and support to create a community change project or identify an area of service that responds to a local need. We’ll measure skills, attitudes, and barriers of participants as they enter the program, during the process as participants work on their projects, and at the end of the grant cycle. We’ll look at how participation has provided opportunities for growth, and identified barriers to be addressed to sustain participation.

To meet these goals, participants worked on a variety of projects with community benefit. Projects are in varying stages of development, with some well underway and others in active planning stages. These projects included:

  • Free acupuncture clinics for people in recovery from addiction, stress, or trauma
  • A yard art project to encourage people to explore Winona neighborhoods
  • A music talent show event to celebrate recovery
  • A soul food truck
  • And more!

“The lived experience is true to you living an experience and then you being supported in that journey. Having that lived experience pays off with Engage Winona, because the LEL program allows you to continue that growth in who you are and then provides the stepping stone to walk that path and to start in your business. I learned a lot about myself and where I was and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to do service in the community.”
– Lived Experience Leader Participant

Engage Winona has just completed recruitment for their third cohort. They are seeking funding from a variety of sources, including local and regional foundations, other grants, sponsorships, and donations. To learn more about this initiative, please visit https://www.engagewinona.org/.

An important part of the Winona Community Foundation’s mission is realized though awarding community grants to meet the ever-changing needs of the community through a competitive process. By doing so, a variety of interests are supported with the goal of helping local charities make a difference in the Winona area. Our community grants for nonprofits are broad and inclusive to meet the current community needs in the Winona area. Make a gift in support of the Community grant program to make a difference today.