Community Development Block Grant
Success Stories

Yuma, AZ - Mayor Marilyn R. Young

Neighborhood Leadership Academy

In many cities, low voter turnout often is an indication of citizens' reticence to become involved in local government issues which do not affect them personally. In Yuma, lack of input and participation from the community was particularly evident in economically distressed areas and census tracts with high concentrations of minorities.

A Strategic Management Plan developed in 1995 called for increased, and diverse, citizen participation in government. Among its goals: "Develop collective ownership in our community through increased dialogue and meaningful participation and partnership with citizens, the region, the business community and other stakeholders." One response to the goal was the creation of the Neighborhood Leadership Academy, an effort to bring citizens inside City government to see how the staff implements policies, how the different City departments address challenges, and how these departments interact to create an efficient organization. The CDBG-supported Academy also gives representatives of different neighborhoods an opportunity to interact with one another, exchange information, and see how issues affect all of their neighborhoods in a holistic manner.

A special effort has been made by the Academy to reach out to the minority communities which comprise half of Yuma's population and to give representatives of these communities a better sense of how the City delivers services to its economically distressed areas.

Upon completion of the Academy, the participants return to their neighborhoods better informed and more knowledgeable about how City government works and about who to contact and for what purpose. Most importantly, officials say, they understand how a few voices can make a difference in community affairs.

Contact: Irma Myers, Neighborhood Services Specialist, (520) 783-1277