Empower: Building Leaders, Strengthening Communities


Empower is an interactive nine-week workshop series that provides participants with the knowledge, skills and resources to help them create and lead change at the grassroots level.

Following the workshops, participants put this training into action by planning and implementing a project or projects designed to strengthen their neighborhood group(s), or the city as a whole. 

The program also gives participants the opportunity to expand their personal and professional networks, and to connect with activists from around the city.


workshop topics include:

  • Leadership style and organizational skills
  • How City Hall works - and how to work with City Hall
  • Communicating your idea and running good meetings
  • Conflict management skills
  • Identifying and leveraging community resources
  • Organizing for change
  • Project planning and implementation

After the program, Participants will be able to:

  • Organize people for positive outcomes
  • Use leadership concepts and skills to become more effective leaders and communicators
  •  Pursue common goals in collaborative partnerships
  • Improve communication and understanding between low-income residents and mainstream leaders/people in power
  • Develop and implement effective community-building projects
  • Create positive change at neighborhood or city-wide levels
I absolutely loved the Empower training, and have been bragging about it to anyone who will listen. You guys did such a great job each and every week, and the content and focus of the training was helpful for me, especially in learning about community organizing.
— Helina Fontes, Fall 2017

Program Details

Who can participate?
Anyone who is interested in learning how to create positive change and improve the quality of life in Lowell. Priority is given to those already active in grassroots or informal community groups, who are currently working to improve conditions in their neighborhood(s) and/or can identify and describe community issues they would like to impact.

How much does the program cost?
Empower is free to Lowell residents accepted into the program.

When do Empower workshops take place?
The Fall 2017 program will run from August 31 - October 26.  We plan to offer Empower annually and are considering a spring session for 2018, rather than one held in the fall.  Our pilot Empower program was held in Fall 2016.

How do I sign up? 
Our 2018 spring program will begin accepting applications in December 2017, when we will make our online application available.

If you would like more information or have questions before applying, please email us at ncoan@ywcaoflowell.org.

Who offers this program?
Empower is a collaboration between Lowell Alliance and Coalition for a Better Acre. 

If you’d like updates about this and other Lowell Alliance programs, please check the website and Facebook page periodically, and sign up for our newsletter


Group Community-Building Projects

After the workshop series, Empower participants continue on with group projects designed to create changes that benefit the Lowell community as a whole.

Initial ideas.  After hearing "pitches" for several ideas, the Fall 2016 Empower group chose the two they most wanted to pursue, then broke into separate groups to tackle each project.

The first idea for offering donated food weekly in "dollar bags" proved challenging to implement, as it was the equivalent of a small nonprofit start-up.  The group learned that translating a creative idea into reality may exceed the available time and resources of the group, a big consideration when working for change in the community.

Traffic light safety.  Idea number two, creating safer intersections in downtown Lowell, proved to be a more manageable project, and a successful experience advocating for change at the city level.  Group members identified an important issue:  At three intersections, pedestrians were given a signal to start crossing the street at the same time the traffic light turned green, which meant pedestrians walked directly into the path of oncoming traffic.  

The group contacted officials at City Hall, who told group members they were already looking into the issue.  The Empower group was invited in to meet with traffic engineers, review plans to change the traffic patterns, and provide feedback. This experience resulted in two important outcomes: Understanding how the process of change works inside the government, and breaking down barriers to accessing those whose job it is to serve Lowell residents.


Interested in Empower? Let us know!

Fill out this form, and we will be in touch with you as soon as we can.

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