The U.S. CORI project has been several years in the making. In the summer of 2007 the build of the web portal and discussions with management commenced. The initial goal was to roll out the site in November of 2007 however, a problem with a server kept that from happening.
Blake Lucas who was slated to lead the project moved to North Carolina in the summer of 2007. This was not thought to be a problem since the project is a national initiative. What did turn out to be a real problem was that the place he moved proved not to have a stable internet connection. Since the initial marketing schedule requires a stable connection with voice and video capability for all planned leaders this was a serious problem. I am happy to hear from Blake today that he believes this problem has been rectified and the hope is to test over the next several days to confirm his capability. This testing should be complete by January 10 and success would mean the first formal meeting could take place sometime between 1/13/2008 and 1/31/2008.
The delay in startup has meant that the original marketing plan which was time sensitive would need to be altered. At this time no formal marketing plan exists however there has been an initial inquiry that has generated some interest and that will be explored more deeply in January of 2008. The level of interest represents approximately 50% of the funds Melissa has indicated are required. We are looking for input from her and or Carolyn now regarding this and other overall startup costs requirements.
A related issue that has been brought to Blake's attention has to do with structure. The question to Melissa and or Carolyn of how much of an organizational dues amount a state or a region would or would not be responsible to pay is an important factor that should be considered at this time. These questions along with the amounts of fees for other members are keys to development of a formal marketing plan. Answers to the question may also impact up or down the original 85k estimate provided by Melissa. Currently the list of considered members is as follows:
The church plans to rebuild and Shawmut Education is currently drafting development docs and coordinating with officials in the local Virginia community as well as those statewide in Virginia.
A meeting with representatives from Quixtar also took place today. Since the CORI often has an impact for an individual to gain employment we are looking at ways to incorporate employment opportunities for thoe directly impacted. The Quixtar opportunity is not limited to those individuals and all are welcome. We feel this represents a great opportunity for many who will be interested in the U.S. CORI project.
Discussions also took place today with John Wilson. He is helping with the drafts of initial development documents regarding the Zion Baptist Church in Portsmouth Virginia. We should have an initial draft Letter of Understanding that we can peruse in the first week of the new year. We originally met with the church in the spring of 2007 and as many may know the church suffered a terrible fire in December of 2007. The church had offered 2 floors of space to us however due to the fire its a whole new challenge. One possible outcome is that the rebuilding might serve to offer location for the national headquarters for U.S. CORI since previous discussions have indicated the need for a D.C. or Virginia base of operations. Tied to this effort will be further attempts to have a meeting in January with representatives from Citizens Schools. The hope being to pave the way for a Citizen School in Portsmouth to be established and for such to provide further capacity building opportunities for local community residents in the rebuilding project.
The outline for the original meeting planned for November of 2007 was as follows:
It might also be very good for us to take a look at the work of Edgar Cahn and his current initiative "Time Banking". As many of you may know Edgar and his life were in part responsible for the drafting of legislation for the "War On Poverty" in the Johnson administration that in a sense created modern day legal services. Stakeholders like LSC and others now directly pave the way for access to justice isssues in America. Edgar's leadership led to a regional structure in the 1970's. Although LSC has abondoned that structure it is still recognizd by groups like NLADA. The U.S. CORI management team has decided to implement its own regional structure for the purpose of propagating its mission. Blake will highlight the structure in the formal meeting.
In November we had the opportunity to meet with Laurie Leyshon who is the CORI Reform Coordinator for Cambridge, Massachusetts. She provided background on her work with Van Jones. Van is an environmental justice leader and the founder of the Ella Baker Center in Oakland California. He has a new national initiative that is called "Green For All". We see the vision of Van Jones as working well with the mission of U.S. CORi to create a new paridogm where prisons are turned into educational institutions.