Safe neighborhoods with strong businesses, families and schools create thriving urban communities. Possibilities work is for anyone who wants to make a difference in communities with the mission to strengthen the ability of people to work together for community change. Possibilities revitalizes communities, creating stronger families, safer neighborhoods, community schools and economic growth through the annual Possibilities Innovation Program (PIP), Engaging and Transforming Communities from Within. PIP builds confidence and teaches skills that empower participants to create community-level changes themselves through development training, assessment and coaching to complete and evaluate improvement projects. Diverse participants, known as Community Innovators, work in schools, neighborhoods, houses of faith, peer organizations and businesses; resulting transformations impact around 50,000 people annually. Possibilities work achieves lasting change, not quick fixes dependent on assistance. Possibilities teaches skills that strengthen the ability of citizens to solve their own problems and specializes in engaging citizens at the grassroots level where the power of cooperation, creativity and community are leveraged to create lasting change.
Possibilities originated as an initiative of Central Oklahoma 2020, a 1994 planning process led by Leadership Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, and more than 90 citizens from all walks of life in response to the goal of “strengthening families through neighborhood based systems.” Established in 1995, largely due to the efforts of founding president, Linda Lambert, Possibilities invests in local people who want to make a difference. With the mission to strengthen the ability of people to work together for community change, Possibilities facilitates citizen-managed projects from within challenged communities. Addressing issues such as struggling schools, poverty, isolation, crime and deterioration, Possibilities develops active citizens who transform local communities, allowing people on the margin to share their gifts for a better community. Possibilities teaches skills that strengthen the ability of citizens of all ages and backgrounds to solve their own problems together.
Possibilities, a United Way partner agency, is recognized as a model program by Tufts University among only 31 acclaimed sustainable communities initiatives across the nation and was recognized in 2009 as a ONE Award finalist by the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits.
Possibilities tackles the issues of community decline with an innovative approach. Possibilities:
Possibilities has created a signature fundraising dance event held in the spring/summer 2012-2015. This period dance has proved to be a unique and fun-filled event that has introduced the organization to a broader audience and helped to raise funds to support community efforts. This year's event is In the Groove, a 70's and 80's themed dance benefit - don't miss it!
Possibilities has entered into a partnership with a professor in the Adult Education department at the University of Central Oklahoma to enhance and strengthen the program’s outcome measurement model. The organization is thrilled to have the opportunity for an external evaluation component with program graduates.
People's Network dinner gatherings that bring new and veteran community leaders together to reenergize, share ideas and implement projects have an open invitation to anyone who wants to make a difference and serves as a critical avenue of ongoing support to PIP graduates as well as an introduction, recruitment tool and practice opportunity for less experienced leaders. Last fiscal year, 752 people from all walks of life participated in the monthly gatherings, continuing the trend of an annual boost in participation each year, and numerous community projects were carried out by graduated leaders, known as Community Innovators.
Possibilities five strategic goals include (1) mission-driven program, (2) sustainability, (3) maximize human resources, (4) public awareness and (5) strong board.
Possibilities is forever indebted to our founding board members,
John Rex and Linda Lambert. Their keen interest and tireless efforts
set us on the path to success. Oklahoma
City is now experiencing one of the most exciting times in the history of our town
with all of the new developments and innovations that are evolving. Our comparative isolation from the threat of
severe economic impacts and unemployment that other parts of the country continue
to experience has certainly favored us. Possibilities has had one of its most
successful years ever in terms of participation; not only from our new program
members, but more importantly from our alumni and graduates. That said, we continue to see not-for-profit
agencies struggle to survive and carry out missions, especially in community
outreach and improvement. Our
organization has a significant need related to the investment in our ongoing
and future projects of the seasoned Community Innovators in our program. Support for charities that primarily support
immediate needs has stayed fairly level, but there is still a lag in getting
adequate support to continue the work that has already been started. Our staff provides an amazing level of
service and strives to cover all possible avenues to manage through challenges.
Like all organizations, we must find support from the area in which our work is
Transformation efforts take place where invited by the community in schools, neighborhoods, houses of faith, businesses and organizations. Historically, efforts focused within the inner-city in 90-95% low-to-moderate income areas and have expanded to the greater metropolitan area and beyond. Please visit http://www.possibilitiesinc.org/possibilities-inc/at-a-glance/ for a complete list of PIP Community Innovators’ Communities.
PIP builds confidence and teaches skills that empower participants to create community changes themselves through development training, assessment and coaching to complete and evaluate improvement projects. 20 - 40 citizens, known as Community Innovators, are intensively trained each year. Possibilities’ staff works directly with present and past training participants’ communities on an ongoing basis. Support includes ongoing training and mentoring, technical assistance for improvement projects and monthly People’s Network gatherings.
A few Community Innovators impact examples:
Possibilities goal is to achieve lasting improvements in peoples’ lives. Program participants range in age from teens to seniors and represent multiple cultures and economic and education levels. Experiencing this degree of diversity is critical for training leaders. PIP goals include an improved ability to: Connect to others in order to work together; analyze personal strengths and weaknesses; effectively express ideas to others (i.e. public speaking); increase participation by creating a safe environment and offering many avenues for participation; self-reflect and discover internal motivation in varied situations; work with diverse groups; access and acquire resources needed for community work; create a collective vision; prioritize individually and with a group; analyze current conditions; create strategies and action plans with others; deal with and resolve conflict; problem solve; motivate others; and take action for what they wish to achieve (complete transformation projects).
Ultimately, participants mobilize their communities for action, working as agents of change and designing projects to address community-identified needs. At the group level intermediate and long-term outcomes include: increase in partners, increase in diverse, broad-based participation, improved functioning, establishment of common vision/goals, and group productivity and completion of community projects.
With the nature of large-scale change, long-term outcomes are expected at the community level. Examples include, increased student performance (stronger families), increased community involvement in schools (community schools), decreased crime (safer neighborhoods), and physical improvements and beautification (safer neighborhoods, economic growth). Possibilities' role in sustaining groups is to help create a structure that works best for that community. Possibilities continues partnerships until sufficient leadership has developed to sustain progress with limited support.
For individuals, short-term/intermediate outcomes are measured by a posttest. Recent results demonstrate some program benefits: 100% of participants report feeling empowered to make a difference; 100% report enhanced ability to communicate with others; 100% report they can better work with diverse groups; 100% report improved facilitation skills; 100% report increased confidence; 100% report increased public speaking ability; 100% report increased ability to lead groups/tasks; 100% report increased ability to handle group conflict; 100% report greater conflict resolution understanding; 95% report increased knowledge of tools to encourage participation; 95% report increased access to resources; 95% report increased ability to motivate others; 100% report enhanced problem-solving skills; and 100% report increased willingness to take risks.
Numerous community projects are carried out by graduated Community Innovators annually and the impact is widespread. For example, the Near Northwest Regional Alliance is a partnership created by Community Innovators five years ago to combat neighborhood isolation and promote collaboration. This group includes thirteen neighborhoods, nine schools and four business districts. Their efforts promote local communities, addressing threats such as construction, traffic concerns and utility realignments. Because they work together, they are able to advocate for their vision, created using Possibilities tools. They have launched a GreenWalks plan to install limited interior sidewalks in the four square mile area (roughly NW 23rd to I-44 and Pennsylvania to I-235) and have secured a $250,000 grant as their first project funding. Community Innovators initially participating from 2002 - 2005 sustain a multi-community partnership that benefits this area and beyond.
Knowing our partners tell the story of our impact best, please take a look at the testimonial below on how change through Possibilities...
Marisol, PIP Community Innovator (Translation provided by Possibilities Community Development Specialist)
I’m very grateful for the opportunity Possibilities has given me. Possibilities Innovation Program is just wonderful; it has helped my children’s school by facilitating the planning of the end of the year carnival to celebrate the hard work of teachers, students and parents of OKC Educare. This program is helping me personally by assisting me with a project that I’ve wanted to put together for a long time. It consists of helping to educate the Hispanic community about children with autism. You might not know how difficult it is to access educational materials about autism in Spanish, but I will tell you.
In January of 2012, my son was diagnosed with autism. My first reaction was fear because I didn’t know how to help my 2 year old son. I feared rejection of family and other people. When I finally came to terms with reality, I started looking for resources to help my son. I found many doors were shut due to my limited English. I realized that if those doors were closed for me, how about the thousands of families that don’t speak or understand English at all?
The sooner you start helping a child with autism, the better chance he has of living an easier life. This is not necessarily to change their way of being, but instead educating the family on how to view life and things through the eyes of their child, along with various therapies, love and a lot of persistence. Possibilities Innovation Program has helped me overcome many of my fears and weaknesses and has taught me to be strong, to keep a positive mind and to say “yes, I can.” I would like to thank all of the wonderful people of PIP for being such a great support group.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
United Way of Central Oklahoma creates lasting changes in people's lives right here in our community. No longer just a fundraising organization, today United Way is on the front lines of some of our community's most pressing problems through the work of 60 agencies.
Click on "view organizations" to view the United Way of Central Oklahoma agencies with current GiveSmartOKC profiles.
Copyright © 2014 Oklahoma City Community Foundation
1000 N. Broadway Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73102