our history

Project Ujima began in July of 2011, when the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation awarded The Akron Neighborhood Trust (now Project Ujima, Inc.), a three-year $674,000 grant to pilot a deliberative democracy model of community engagement in Akron’s Buchtel Community.  At the beginning of the first year, 38 people from the community completed 15 hours of moderator/facilitator training to prepare to lead community deliberative dialogues.

As a first task, at the Project Ujima Kick-off in October 2011, the facilitators led more than 90 people from the community through a group process that culminated in the creation of the following Community Vision Statement …

“We envision a community that values diversity and maintains high standards in a safe and nurturing environment that builds independence and economic self-sufficiency, while educating our community in the knowledge of self and promoting a healthy quality of life for all throughout the life cycle.”

Since the Project’s inception, hundreds of residents and other stakeholders have participated in deliberative dialogues that led to the establishment of the following six guiding principles which align with the Vision Statement:  1) Education and Employment;  2)  Knowledge of Self and African Centered Education; 3) Safe and Nurturing Environment; 4) Financial Literacy and Economic Planning; 5) Community Communications, and 6) Healthy Quality of Life.

Project Ujima has served and continues to serves the community as a convener, coordinator, project manager, volunteer generator and communicator. Sponsorship and logistical support (e.g. programming space, refreshments, marketing materials) are provided for actions decided upon by participants of the Circles in the Buchtel community.

Project Ujima serves the greater Akron community, through its consulting services which include training facilitators, framing community discussions, and providing facilitation, support and customization of the Discussion Circle Process.

“We envision a community that values diversity and maintains high standards in a safe and nurturing environment…”

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