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The LINC Academy for Social Transformation--Two Years of Leadership, Community & More.

The LINC Academy for Social Transformation, a several day training that trains local leaders to advocate in and for their communities, just turned two years old.

LINC Academy Dates & Times

LAST is available in both English and Spanish, and offers options for three-days of coursework. The next two trainings are:

  • Spanish L.A.S.T. on February 6th & 7th from 8:30am to 5pm and the following Tuesday from 1pm to 9pm, during which residents will attend a County Commission Meeting.
  • English L.A.S.T. on March 6th & 7th from 8:30am to 5pm and the following Tuesday from 1pm to 9pm, during which residents will attend a County Commission Meeting.

Trainings are also available on Saturdays later in the year for those who work during the week. Check the LINC events calendar for more dates and times, or call 616.451.9140 for more information.

The final graduation group of 2013. There have been more than 320 L.A.S.T. grads to date.

The final graduation group of 2013. There have been more than 320 L.A.S.T. grads to date. /Photo courtesy of LINC.

Participants often get a chance to speak with local officials.

Participants often get a chance to speak with local officials. /Photo courtesy of LINC.

“Everyone is a leader.”

This was the phrase shared on the first day of the LINC Academy for Social Transformation (L.A.S.T.), a leadership experience designed by LINC Community Revitalization, Inc. to empower residents, to nurture emerging leaders and to promote civic engagement. This month, LINC celebrates the second anniversary of this life changing leadership training launched in January of 2012.

To date, close to 350 residents from different areas of Kent County have graduated from L.A.S.T., which is also offered in English and Spanish. In the training, residents learn critical information about leadership styles and how to work in teams, understanding the value of diversity, and taking a closer look at systems and power dynamics so they can better advocate for themselves and for their communities. 

“LINC has worked with residents for a long time, organizing them around various community issues. But soon we learned that it wasn’t enough to engage residents and to rally them to become active in the community,” said Ana Doonan, Senior Director for LINC. “Residents asked for a training that would equip them to realize their leadership and to build those skills to be effective leaders.”

In an academy fashion, L.A.S.T. is a core training in which participants are equipped with skills and knowledge to help them obtain leadership roles and work to further promote social change and revitalization efforts in their neighborhoods. The curriculum is divided into various modules, covering topics ranging from Power Dynamics, Systems Change/Thinking, Social Justice, Equity, Targeted Universalism and Situatedness and more. L.A.S.T. offers the opportunity for residents to visit County Commission and School Board meetings, applying the advocacy methods they receive over the course of the training. In addition, all participants plan a project they are passionate about for their communities.

LINC takes great pride in this leadership training. But more importantly, LINC takes pride in the willingness and tenacity of the hundreds of residents who have stepped up and are now ongoing volunteers and leaders in their local schools, active members of community boards and committees, and in many other roles. L.A.S.T. has planted the seeds of indigenous and authentic community leadership and will continue to nurture leaders moving forward.

“From a majority of L.A.S.T. graduates, we have heard about the impact this training has made in their lives,” Ana added. “As a co-facilitator, I see firsthand the transformation happen right there in the space where we are all working collectively as a group,” Ana stated.

It is truly a social transformation experience, people realize the importance and capacity they have to be agents of change in their lives, in their communities, or wherever they may be," she added. 

“L.A.S.T. is enriched by their personal experiences and by our collective learning, but also by our ability to connect individuals to other leadership opportunities and resources,” Ana said.

Trainings will be continued through 2014 with new modules and additions that will expand the role of emerging leaders like attending local commission meetings and school board meetings and town halls. While trainings are available to organizations for a corporate fee, residents are offered incentives to attend. Interested residents are encouraged to contact LINC by calling (616) 451-9140. Next training dates can be found on LINC’s website –

LINC Academy For Social Transformation Testimonials:

  • Testimonial [VIDEO] from Raymond Trujillo, L.A.S.T. graduate.
  • “LINC helped me to have a good relationship with more neighbors. Some people might not understand what my life is like, but LINC gave me the opportunity to improve my relationships in the neighborhood. They gave me that strength. L.A.S.T. is a good opportunity to get all this information. You find a good start to talk—no fights, just talk.” – Guadalupe Hernandez, L.A.S.T. graduate
  • “L.A.S.T. helped me and my husband so much. For one thing, it opened his mind. It allowed him to see the bigger picture. Now he says things like, ‘Remember, at LINC they said that…’, and really applies it to our lives. L.A.S.T. is good for people who are willing to take the extra step. Before L.A.S.T. I didn’t know about LINC, but now I refer people to the programs all the time.” – Veronica Quintino Aranda, L.A.S.T. graduate

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