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Leaders Partnering to End Poverty right here

Jess Whitcomb sorts nominees into categories at the Leaders Partnering to End Poverty recruitment meeting last week. Meeting attendees are now encouraging their nominees to apply for the LPEP team. Cate Zenzen/ RiverTown Multimedia

In a continuous conversation on the war against poverty, Red Wing knows that the battle can not be fought alone.

On Thursday, July 19, community members gathered at First Presbyterian Church as part of the early stages of Red Wing's own committee of Leaders Partnering to End Poverty.

The program is led by the Blandin Foundation, a nonprofit out of Grand Rapids whose mission is to strengthen rural Minnesota communities.

Laura Prink, community impact manager at United Way of Goodhue, Wabasha & Pierce Counties, said that her office applied for this sought-after training about two years ago. Prink is thrilled that Red Wing is now being given the opportunity.

In this long-term program, the Blandin Foundation will provide a team of 40 with leadership training and a space to talk openly about poverty.

"When we say leaders it means anyone in our community who is committed and passionate and ready to fight poverty," Prink said.

Responsibilities of LPEP participants include seven leadership training sessions as well as planning and organizing events that will engage the community in a conversation on poverty.

The city is at the recruiting stages of the program, but the end goal is to have 40 adults who best represent all aspects of Red Wing.

To have a better idea of what these aspects are, the Blandin Foundation uses a model called "9 Common Dimensions of a Healthy Community."

They include;

• Spirituality and Wellness

• Lifelong Learning

• Inclusion

• Recreational and Artistic Opportunity

• Environmental Stewardship

• Infrastructures and Services

• Safety and Security

• Community Leadership

• Economic Opportunity

On Thursday's meeting, the responsibility of the people gathered was to consider who in the community would best represent these dimensions, so as to recruit them to apply for LPEP.

It is important to have diversity and this criteria was well-represented on the list of nominees. Positions of the people nominated included small-business owners, pastors, educators, community outreach directors and people who work closely with or who are experiencing poverty.

"Together this group is going to be trained and educated on poverty and how to identify specific community impact strategies to employ in the community," Prink said.

The Blandin Foundation will work closely with committee members until they are strong enough on their own to lead Red Wing in a communitywide initiative to help low-income or impoverished families.

To learn more about the Blandin Foundation, visit

To learn more about Red Wing Leaders Partnering to End Poverty, call United Way at 615-388-6309.