Black Belt Action Network
PARTNERSHIPS – STRATEGIC CAPACITY BUILDING
In 2007, BBAN formed a partnership with Appalachian Studies Association at the Rural Sociological Society conference held in Louisville, Kentucky. They bridged their research and shared stories of the south in a formal presentation, entitled, Activists and Scholars Engaging Communities in Partnership: Stories from the Black Belt South and Appalachia. So, began a partnership that would enrich the communities across the black belt. BBAN gained invaluable insights and guidance about the importance of keeping the community voice engaged. Also gained was the knowledge on the role of the Appalachian Studies Programs and how they navigated throughout the region in producing indigenous scholar-activists who have made significant impacts within communities and within academia. Appalachian Studies Program staff mentored BBAN on the development of a Black Belt Regional Studies and Leadership Development Programs.
Strategic partnerships also developed with the researchers of UGA federal commission study: Dr. Ronald C. Wimberley of North Carolina State University, and Libby V. Morris of UGA. This partnership strengthens their knowledge, research and commitment to the communities in the black belt region.
In 2007, Tuskegee University and BBAN along with Washington University-Center for Social Development and regional partners (Alabama Asset Building Coalition, Alabama Arise Citizens Policy Project, Mississippi Association of Cooperatives, Federation of Southern Cooperatives (LA & GA) and Florida Family Network) were funded (2007-2015) through the Ford Foundation to build a coalition in Black Belt states on asset-building policy and program focusing on victims of hurricanes, persistent poverty and black-owned landloss.
In 2008, Florida Family Network became the state partner with the Southern Regional Asset Building Coalition (SRABC) funded by the Ford Foundation. This initial effort was lead by Tuskegee University and the many of the partners in the BBI efforts as well as BBAN. Partners to this initiative changed as well as the work template. The original main goal was to establish a network and statewide coalitions in the Southern Black Belt region for mobilizing organizations and coalitions around advocacy and support for policies and programs designed to address the devastating economic impacts of persistent poverty, hurricanes, and land loss.
This partnership lead by Tuskegee University, included the Center for Social Development-Washington University at St. Louis, Florida Family Network, Florida A & M University, Alabama Arise, Mississippi Association of Cooperatives, and the Federation of Southern Cooperatives (Louisiana) and the Black Belt Action Network (BBAN). This fostered the creation of statewide asset building coalitions in the four states.
In 2009, The Southern Regional Asset-Building Coalition (SRABC) was created as a partnership among state coalitions to support, develop and advocate for policies and programs that support low-income families and initiate programs for a higher quality of life for communities and families across the region.
In May 2010, Florida Family Network turned over the work of the Florida Asset Building Coalition (FABC) and funding of $200,000 to be continued through 2015 to one of its board members, War on Poverty Florida (WPF). Technical support was provided for a seamless transition. WPF joined the Florida efforts in an administrative leadership role as the convener of FABC. WPF later renamed the FABC to Raise Florida Network.
In September 2009, members of BBAN met with Florida A & M University in Tallahassee, Florida and began work on developing the Black Belt Regional Studies and Leadership Development Programs (BBRSLD).
BBAN created models that would help create a structure and pedagogy for ongoing authentic engagement between universities and communities on working in partnership to address issues in the region. BBAN believes that CBOs and universities should be seamless in partnership’s efforts of combating poverty, in that all work should be guided by and responsive to communities.
Much of the inspiration for this development was drawn from the partnership with Appalachian Studies programs and particularly with the Public Policy and Community Service Program at Emory and Henry College. The BBRSLD was envisioned to enhance the capacities of the region’s community-based, land-based and higher learning institutions to work in partnership in training a new generation of leaders to address persistent poverty and its consequences. By working in partnership to shape the curricula, the service-learning-based experiences and the critical-creative approaches to the region’s historical challenges, these institutions will provide a sustainable structure and process for the ongoing training of leaders who will foster quality of life, democratic participation within the region and the appreciation of Black Belt cultures and experiences locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. This work is continuing to develop under the leadership of BBAN and FAMU.
In 2010 and currently, BBAN produced models of pedagogy for ongoing authentic engagement between universities and communities in working together to address issues in the region inspired by the community-centered approaches from Native American, Native Hawaiian and Appalachian Studies.
BBAN is the central entity that assisted in the development of policy and action with university and community partners. BBAN’s role in regional politics became facilitators of the dissemination of information on policies, analysis, and policy shaping for the region. The engagement of communities and Historic Black Colleges and Universities, 1890 land grant institution voices are critical throughout all of BBAN’s advocacy, research and partnerships.