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Leadership Trust Initiative graduates complete training

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The third class with New Richmond's Leadership Trust Initiative graduated March 21 following a nine-month training program.

The LTI program was developed by the New Richmond Area Community Foundation and the Front Porch Initiative. A three-year grant from the Bremer Foundation kick-started the effort in 2009.

"That funding is now complete," said Tim O'Brien, local attorney and foundation board member. "The perpetuation of LTI is now in our hands."

Since its beginning, LTI has provided community leadership training for 68 graduates. This year's class totaled 24.

Past graduates and community members were encouraged to pledge their financial support for the program, so that even more leaders can be developed throughout the New Richmond area.

O'Brien said the LTI program is paying dividends as graduates go out into the community and make a difference.

"Living in a community doesn't make you a citizen," he said. "If you're not engaged in your community, you're simply a resident."

This year's graduates split into five work groups, which then each developed an action plan for getting involved in a community project.

One group is partnering with New Richmond Community Education to create a new website to provide newcomers to the area information about the area.

A second work group is implementing an annual literacy celebration, focusing on a possible community reading effort aimed at elementary and middle school students.

The third group is helping to direct a "community conversation" at 7 p.m. on April 19 to gather feedback from area residents about what the New Richmond School District is doing well and what areas need improvement.

A fourth group is committed to strengthening connections between various business organizations in the New Richmond area, and the final group is establishing a "Citizen's Access Coalition" to reach out to the community's marginalized populations and empowering them to become more involved in planning for the future.

Dave Schleh, a former New Richmond teacher and foundation board member, gave a brief address as part of the graduation event.

He recalled a scene where three children near a pool contemplated their next step. One youngster stayed away from the cold water, a second tested the water but decided to avoid it, and a third jumped right in.

He urged the graduates to use the leadership skills they've learned to "step into the unknown," jump in and work toward the betterment of the community.

"Our community, like so many across this country, is in need of people who will step forward," he said.

The foundation is currently seeking candidates for its LTI IV class, which will run from May through March 2013. Nominations can be submitted to