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Capstone Presentation Recap: Fostering Community Transformation

Greater Capitol Heights Improvement Corporation, in collaboration with The Capital Market, recently hosted a capstone presentation session that illuminated a spectrum of innovative projects aimed at encouraging positive change within the community. From envisioning a more equitable landscape to addressing pressing health disparities, each presentation offered a unique perspective and actionable strategies. 

The capstone session was the culminating event of a 7-week Civic Leadership Institute (CLI) hosted by GCHIC and TCM. Members of the CLI cohort designed projects to apply the leadership and engagement skills they learned over the course of the training. Several projects focused on the health of the community from strategizing about ways to add full-service grocery stores to the area to assessing the health of the community through the soil. 

The grocery store project focused on creating a comprehensive plan to assess how to attract grocery stores to the area and assess potential grocery stores needs. The soil project determined that the health of the local soil has a direct impact on the community and aims to develop ways, not only to improve the quality of the soil, but to also educate residents on its impact and how they can make a change. Another group looked at the food-access issue in a different way, coming to the conclusion that a tri-jurisdictional collaborative will help improve the possibility of attracting a permanent grocery store in the area.

Other projects focused on beautifying the Greater Capitol Heights community by creating a mural or developing a business improvement district (BID). The mural, to be located on Sheriff Road in the Chapel Oaks area, will showcase community pride and act as a vibrant introduction to the community.Their aim is to showcase the cultural diversity and deep pride of the communities through art. Building on that, another group’s goal is to develop a BID that will focus on beautification and engagement. They seek to mitigate public trash accumulation and implement strategic improvements akin to successful models in neighboring areas. By fostering collective planning and funding initiatives, this group envisions a revitalized community space that reflects its inherent vibrancy and potential.

Public health and policy was a major focus of many of the groups. While one of the groups focused on education through youth-focused initiatives curated by educators, the other groups focused on health policy through mental health support and disability justice. Each group focused on partnering with larger organizations to support and advocate for change.

"The CLI capstone projects reflect the heart of GCHIC’s community empowerment model: grassroots energy and innovative ideas combined to spark real change in our community," said Anika Gzifa, GCHIC’s Vice President.

Each capstone presentation showcased a myriad of innovative projects poised to usher in transformative change within the community. From youth empowerment to environmental justice, each presentation exemplified a collective commitment to fostering inclusivity, equity, and well-being. As these initiatives take root and flourish, they have the potential to redefine community dynamics and inspire positive change for generations to come.

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