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Launch Raleigh - Assessing Community Needs
Category: Microcredit | By SDR, 8-Oct-2019 | Viewed 793  Comments 0 | Source Matthew Kane

Needs Assessment - Community Development

3rd LaunchRALEIGH cohort on graduation day

We had a really nice problem: my Rotary Club had $25,000 and was looking for a signature project.   

So I found myself in Southeast Raleigh on a Friday afternoon in February 2016 strolling with my friend Jeanne Tedrow. I told her that my Rotary club was celebrating our 50th Anniversary and was looking for a special project to commemorate the event. Jeanne was the Executive Director of a Community Development organization called Passage Home and I dared to ask Jeanne 2 questions: What does Southeast Raleigh really need? How can my Rotary Club help?

Jeanne responded that over the years her organization had been able to offer the Southeast Raleigh community low income housing, after school programs for children and basic job skills training but what they now needed was entrepreneurship training. The next step was a needs assessment:
> Are there any existing organizations offering entrepreneurship training in Southeast Raleigh?
> What resources are already available to respond to these needs?
> What is the literacy level of this community?
> How much is the typical family income?
> Are there other Rotary clubs or community organizations we could partner with?
> What are the biggest challenges to overcome?  

Next, I did some investigation and learned about an ambitious Rotary club in Detroit that developed a program called LaunchDETROIT that offered a 4 component program that included 8 weeks of business education, microloans, mentors and networking

I began networking in the community and pretty soon we had 7 core partners who were passionate about building entrepreneurship. Partners include Wake Tech, Carolina Small Business Development Fund, Passage Home, Shaw University, St. Augustine University and the City of Raleigh. It's like a pot luck dinner where everybody contributes something valuable and nobody does all the work. We called our program LaunchRALEIGH and graduated our first class in March 2017 with 20 students.

By late 2019 we will boast almost 100 graduates in a wide variety of businesses. We have a yoga teacher, a tailor, a cookie maker, software companies, soap makers, a handyman, caterers, digital marketing, community murals and a Food Truck. The word got out that this program changes lives and Wake County now has seven communities using this Launch model. International cities are also interested and Canada now offers a LaunchToronto.

Along the way we recognized other cities could benefit from this model so we created two different tools for Rotarians like you to develop your own Community Economic Development project. 

If you live in the United States:

Check out our template called LaunchMyCity that gives step by step instructions on how to build entrepreneurship in your community. Learn more at www.LaunchMyCity.org

If you live outside the United States, particularly in the developing world:

The Rotary Action Group for Microfinance and Community Development wants to help you build a strong microfinance project using local community resources. 

Download the excellent RAGM Guidebook for Building Sustainable Microfinance Programs at: http://ragm.org/docs/RAGM%20Guidebook%20Hamburg%205-28-19%20with%20Cover_360.pdf  ;

Matthew Kane
North Raleigh Rotary
Governor 2014-15, RI District 7710
Matthew Kane
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