Crook Countys second Ford Leadership cohort is planning to unveil their community project soon

Two years ago, Prineville was graced with several decorative concrete benches that commemorated the community and enhanced its visual appeal.

The decorations came courtesy of a local Ford Family Foundation cohort project, and a new cohort is gearing up to unveil its addition to the community in the near future.

“The goal of the project is something that is ultimately going to benefit the community as opposed to a project that is going to benefit a specific entity or a specific nonprofit,” explained Chad Carpenter, a member of the second cohort.

The Ford Family Foundation was established in 1957 in Roseburg as a private nonprofit. It now manages large internal initiatives and makes grants to public charities predominantly benefitting communities in rural Oregon.

Two years ago, they launched a five-year program in Crook County in which they guide three different cohorts through a leadership program that culminates in a community project.

“It is people from various sections of the community,” Carpenter said, “some business leaders, some nonprofit leaders, and some citizens who are not necessarily a business or nonprofit leader.”

From September to December, the cohorts participate in four weekend sessions where they come together as a group and listen to different leadership training sessions.

For Carpenter, the executive director for The Landing youth tutoring center, it was interesting to learn to work together with so many people like himself who are accustomed to taking charge of a group.

“Typically, my experience is you might have one or two leaders in a group of people who are looking for direction,” he said. “There are some tools and some skills I have gained in order to more effectively lead in those types of scenarios.”

Duane Garner, parks supervisor for the Crook County Parks and Recreation District, who is also a member of the second cohort, raved about the leadership program.

“They really do an excellent job of teaching community-minded people how to effectively serve the communities and how volunteer groups can make a good decision, arrive at conclusions, and move forward.”

After the learning sessions, the cohorts are asked to put their education into practice. From January until August, they are charged with creating and completing a community project.

“The cohort is responsible for raising money and to bring community awareness to the project,” Carpenter said. “Ford provides some seed money for the project. They will match up to a certain amount of what we raise.”

The cohort began with a list of 30 potential projects and pared that down to five and eventually arrived at the idea the project they will later unveil then complete. Although he declined to give details until the projects public unveiling next month, Carpenter offered some philosophical viewpoints that hint at what people can expect.

“We didn’t want it to just benefit Prineville, we wanted it to be a benefit to Crook County,” he said. “What we are branding our project as is a beautification and enhancement project, and we are using functional art as a means to that end.”

Garner stayed mum on the details as well, but explained that in the end, it will sew up the entire leadership cohort experience for the group.

“The point of the project is to really drive home all of the principles that we have learned over this whole process.”

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