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MCLP Celebrates 10 Years Of Leadership, Community Service

Linda Bollivar in studio
Mary Cullen
Linda Bollivar, director of Bloomington-Normal's Multicultural Leadership Program.

A local nonprofit is celebrating its 10th year of leadership development and service to the community.

Linda Bollivar directs the Multicultural Leadership Program (MCLP). She said the organization has supported over 40 community partners over the last decade.

Bollivar said MCLP helps local professionals improve their leadership skills through providing services that will benefit the community at large.

Each year, a handful of projects are selected and assigned to teams of MCLP participants who work to support the organizations and their overall project goal.

261 Fearless

Katherine Switzer was the first woman to register for and run the Boston Marathon in 1967. That was when the race was for only men. During her run, she was attacked and berated by a race official who tried to tear off Switzer’s bib: number 261.

Switzer founded 261 Fearless in 2015, nearly 50 years after her infamous run. Her hope was to provide an empowering global network of women runners.

The Bloomington-Normal chapter of 261 Fearless applied to be one of this year’s MCLP projects with aspirations to expand their branch.

“We thought this would be a great opportunity for our team to help them look at a marketing plan,” Bollivar said. “To look at who’s in the club, what draws them to it, look at potential membership, develop a marketing plan so that we can grow this.”

Home Sweet Home Ministries

Home Sweet Home Ministries started providing services to homeless and hungry residents in Bloomington in 1917, and MCLP has worked with the organization for various community projects.

For this year’s project, Home Sweet Home Ministries is interested in developing an online auction site for some of the one-of-a-kind items at its Mission Mart. The Mart accepts donated clothing and household items, sells them, and the profit goes to the organization’s operating costs.

“What this project team is doing is researching what platforms are available, what’s the feasibility, and because we’re always looking at sustainability, what structures does Home Sweet Home have in place or need to have in place to make it a sustainable plan,” Bolliver said.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is an international organization that provides a variety of services aimed at supporting residents in need of housing, food, or support services.

"It's sort of that vicious cycle we have in nonprofits where we need volunteers, but we also need the capacity to train them."

The MCLP team working with the Bloomington Salvation Army is developing a training video for volunteers to learn about the organization and its services while also serving as a volunteer recruitment tool.

“It really counts on volunteers to run,” Bolliver said. “And the issue is that if the one staff person is training volunteers, she can’t get her work done. It’s sort of that vicious cycle we have in nonprofits where we need volunteers, but we also need the capacity to train them.”

The hope of the Salvation Army MCLP team is that this video will reduce staff time one-on-one with new volunteers.

Vladimir-Canterbury Sister City Association of Bloomington-Normal

Vladimir, Russia, Canterbury, England, and Bloomington-Normal make up a trio of sister cities. Bolliver says the three cities have organized medical exchanges, international exchange students, and various individuals that travel between the three cities to enhance international ties.

“When you understand people in a country on a personal level, it’s not just this scary country you hear about in the news, but really get to know the individuals one-on-one, then it really helps promote world peace,” Bollivar said.

She said the MCLP team will help develop a fundraising strategy for the organization as well as brainstorm methods to increase international exchanges between the three cities.

MCLP participants will work closely with their assigned nonprofit before final presentations occur in March.

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