Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work

First Advisor

Dr. Rosemary Link

Second Advisor

Laura Bloomberg

Third Advisor

Mary Anderson


An issue for policy-makers and community organizations across Minnesota is the lack of knowledge about how to engage low-income families and people of color in community decision-making and community capacity building efforts. A culturally diverse research team interviewed forty-nine community leaders who had been identified as change agents, had struggled to become leaders, were perceived as mentors, and/or were viewed as cultural leaders. A major theme of what worked for communities to engage the disenfranchised centered on the development of safe forums for dialogue to create insightful trusting and meaningful relationships and to better understand race, class and culture. A second theme promoted action learning opportunities to give aspiring leaders the gift of time to find their voice, and an important final theme provided an ongoing support system to the trainee in the form of a trusted community mentor, leader, trainer, cultural or community guide. This research will benefit those in program and organizational development, policy-makers, community organizers, social workers and others who work to engage the disenfranchised.


SC 11.MSW.2002.Cutler.JJ

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Social Work Commons