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Released April 20, 2004


HATTIESBURG -- Students from all of Mississippi's postsecondary institutions can gain the tools and resources necessary for community leadership during a retreat May 23-28 at The University of Southern Mississippi.

Applications for the Student Civic Leadership retreat, sponsored by the Center for Community and Civic Engagement, will be accepted through the end of April. Although students from all of the state's postsecondary institutions are eligible to apply, only 10 teams of about three to four students each will be selected.

Preference will be given to those teams that promote diversity by including a variety of students: minorities, undergraduates, graduate students, honor students and students with disabilities.

"Leadership is an evolving and crucial need that shifts and changes as communities change," said J.J. Trotta, interim director for CCCE. "Students have an opportunity to tap into talents that will increase their engagement with civic life, particularly as it relates to community service, voting, and traditional forms of civic engagement."

Teams that are selected will receive free meals and lodging during the weeklong retreat; the only cost for participating will be transportation to Hattiesburg.

The retreat will focus on the following leadership skills: finding the leader within; civics, history, and democratic principles; identifying community assets; managing groups; making meetings work; managing conflicts; building partnerships; developing action plans; effective evaluation; and communicating for change.

After successfully completing the leadership training, student teams will receive a $750 mini-grant from the CCCE to implement their civic action plans within their communities.

"Strengthening leadership is about establishing new ways of thinking and new patterns of behavior to help a community move towards action. It also relies on embracing the belief that people from different backgrounds can and must work together," said Jennifer Brewington, program coordinator for CCCE.

The goal of the Student Civic Leadership retreat is to equip students with tools and resources that prepare them to become community leaders, Brewington said. "It is an opportunity for students to work with their communities to form a civic action plan to address community needs. By becoming a leader, you can work with others to envision and implement service projects designed to improve your community."

Using the LeadershipPlenty® program, which focuses on specific skills to bring about change within a community, participants will learn how to identify community assets, manage conflicts and build strategic partnerships within a community. Students will also have an opportunity to hear from guest speakers who exemplify leadership within their communities.

The deadline to apply for the Student Civic Leadership retreat is April 30. Applications can be obtained online at

The Student Civic Leadership retreat is sponsored by the Mississippi Higher Education Consortium, a Learn and Serve America program administered by the Mississippi Center for Community and Civic Engagement. Program materials are provided by LeadershipPlenty®, a Pew Partnership for Civic Change initiative.

For more information, contact Jennifer Brewington by phone at (601) 266-5208 or by e-mail at


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM