As the state of Michigan closed down in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations like Treetops Collective were mobilizing to ensure immediate, critical needs could be met. We were scrambling to assess needs, secure resources, and disperse donations to families. We want to give a huge shout out to the donors and volunteers who stepped up during this time.
The stay at home order here in Michigan remained in place for 70 days, and over the course of that time it became abundantly clear that relationships between neighbors are central to building and maintaining community through a crisis. New American leaders are central to effective response because they have those existing relationships of mutual trust, especially within their language communities. These leaders are essential when closing gaps between local resources and community members who want to leverage them on behalf of their families.
We realized that Treetops could do more to honor and support these women, but adjustments to our program were necessary in order to see it through.
Treetops Collective is launching the next chapter of our Sister Circles program, Concentric, a program to equip New American leaders with the tools to assess the needs of their language and ethnic communities and connect members to appropriate resources throughout West Michigan. This fifteen month program begins with training for New American women leaders including material on equity -centered design, Asset-Based Community Development, fundraising, and project management. Following the training, leaders will each conduct needs and assets assessments with roughly 20 families and will partner with these families for twelve months. For the entire fifteen months, Community Leaders will receive a stipend in addition to the career development and networking opportunities afforded by this training.
Over twelve months, families will engage in goal-setting and barrier identification, which community leaders will use to provide relevant resource connection. Community Leaders will use a digital platform to navigate the resources agencies provide and offer feedback to agencies on their accessibility to New Americans and effectiveness of the resources they offer. At the end of the 15 months in Concentric, each woman graduating from our program will have specific work experience in project management and community leadership that she can leverage in applying for jobs and pursuing their career goals.
This model will equip existing New American leaders with tools that will multiply their existing skills and giftings to cultivate spaces of belonging that celebrate and hold space for diverse experiences.
We plan to launch this program in January 2021. We are so excited about the women that are already coming forward to join Concentric’s first cohort. What this could mean for our communities and for the sustainability of Treetops Collective just makes our hearts sing. But we cannot do it alone. In fact, we need your help more now than ever. In order to start our program at the beginning of the year, we need more monthly and one-time donations to cover the cost of the $450 monthly stipends for each Community Leader. We will also be recruiting at least 40 new Cross-Cultural Partners on an ongoing basis starting in January to partner with the families walking with Community Leaders.
Your support today can catalyze change throughout our communities. Would you join us?