BY KAYCIE STUSHEK, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS SPECIALIST, THE HUB
On August 13th, 65 people gathered virtually to celebrate the graduation of six West Virginia teams from the Blueprint Communities program, a program of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh that is administered in the Mountain State by the team here at The Hub.
We are extending a big CONGRATULATIONS to these communities for their outstanding work:
- Kingwood (Preston County);
- Lewis County;
- Meadow River Valley region (Greenbrier County);
- Monticello neighborhood of Clarksburg (Harrison County);
- New Martinsville (Wetzel County); and
- Parsons (Tucker County)
These teams are now officially designated as “Blueprint Communities” through the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, meaning they’ve invested the sweat equity to build up their skill sets in key community and economic development areas and created plans for their future, and now they are eligible for new opportunities and resources to help make those dreams come true. Read on to learn about their exciting progress – including more than $100,000 already secured to achieve their goals.
Over the course of the year-long program, these teams have collaborated with their communities to dream up a vision for the future and develop the stepping stones for how to get there. These community leaders spent this past year gaining knowledge and skills, connecting to resources to ensure success, and outlining their strategies for how to accomplish their goals.
“The most important thing is the support of the residents of the community. Without their buy-in and support, our plans would fail.”– Martin Howe, Monticello
“This has opened my eyes to the resources that are available and to the need to bring more people in to the work over time.”– Dave Lumsden, Meadow River Valley
Teams connected to expertise on topics relating to their projects and that would build their capacity to achieve their goals. Just a few training titles included: Team Building for Success; Grant Writing; Getting Downtown Development-ready; Promotional Marketing for Businesses; Public Space Arts Initiatives; School Renovation; Housing Opportunities; and Creative Fundraising. They also connected to one another to understand better what is happening across communities in West Virginia
“Until you get involved in programs like this, you don’t know all of the resources that are available to us in West Virginia.”– Sandy Hunt, New Martinsville
“I’ve learned about connections. You hear of a project that you always wanted to do, and you may hear of someone that has already done it. Don’t reinvent the wheel! Borrow the good ideas coming out of other communities.”– Ray Smith, Lewis County
Even though communities are facing significant challenges this year, these resilient leaders stayed the course. The community teams have already raised more than $100,000 in grants and donations towards their initiatives, and have torn down three dilapidated buildings to make way for future projects.
Communities have been awarded opportunities such as the Fulcrum Program, which connects teams with WVU graduate students for design projects; assistance with dilapidated buildings through the WVU BAD Buildings program; and Mills Group LLC’s pro-bono conceptual architectural services, awarded to four WV projects as a part of their 15 year anniversary, two of which were in Blueprint communities!
“This is proof a small community can make big things happen!”– Robbie Baylor, Kingwood
“It’s time to make a change. The time is now.”– Jason Myers, Parsons
We are honored to be a part of the journey as coaches to the community teams and administrators of this initiative in West Virginia, and we offer heartfelt gratitude to the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh for bringing their Blueprint Communities program to the Mountain State.
The Hub’s Executive Director Stephanie Tyree said it well when she addressed the teams at graduation: “It is most inspiring to hear you talk about how the keys to success are partnerships, continuous engagement, identifying resources, and continually showing up for your communities.”
Get ready, West Virginia! There are even more great things to come from these communities.
Thank you to the partners and supporters who joined the community teams in celebrating at their graduation ceremony, including Senator Joe Manchin and President & CEO of Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh Winthrop Watson, who both offered congratulatory remarks to the graduates, as well as representatives from the Office of Senator Shelley Moore Capito; Office of Congressman David McKinley; Office of Congresswoman Carol Miller; and Office of Congressman Alex Mooney.