Civic Leadership Academy Group Action Projects

As part of the Jefferson Civic Leadership Academy, participants develop their leadership skills by engaging in research to address critical issues facing their community.

RAISING THE NEXT GENERATION: Realities of the Child Care Landscape in Erie County

The 2023 Jefferson Civic Leadership Academy (JCLA) cohort explored and analyzed Erie County, Pennsylvania’s resources for raising the next generation through its child-care infrastructure. Starting in June 2023, the JCLA cohort traveled across Erie County – in the northwestern corner of the state and home to about 267,000 residents – to learn the current state of child care in the county, as well as the success created and challenges faced by municipalities. Each member of the cohort assisted in narrowing the project focus from the overall raising of children to how infants and toddlers are cared for and are afforded the best chance of success in Erie County. Under the wide range of child care, the cohort identified four categories that intersect and connect at various levels to provide actionable data on this topic.

These categories are:
● The cost of center-based child care within Erie County for children from birth to 3 years old. Center-based child care is provided in a non-home setting, in a facility with multiple and non-related children.
● Define, find, and access quality child-care services in Erie County.
● Identify training methods, workforce development, and retention for child-care workers.
● Examine the supply and demand for child-care services in Erie County.



The 2022 JCLA Cohort was tasked to assess Erie County's urban-rural divide in consideration of infrastructure, resources, and services. The cohort spent seven months visiting, learning about, and researching nine municipalities across Erie County, which ties directly to this project. They first defined infrastructure, resources and services as well as rural and urban services. Nine subcategories were assessed - broadband, economy, education, energy and utilities, healthcare and emergency services, housing, public transportation, recreation, and social services - and how they are considered throughout the nine municipalities. To read the full report click on the link below.

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the future of work in Erie county

The 2021 JCLA Cohort was tasked with examining the topic of “The Future of Work in Erie County". The goal of this report is to highlight potential synergies between the public and private sectors, suggest meaningful changes to legislation, minimize misconceptions about the area, forecast Fourth Industrial Revolution occupations, and showcase regional assets that local leaders can leverage to increase talent attraction and retention. Please click on LEARN MORE below to read the full report and learn about the five critical areas of Education, Industry, Infrastructure, Placemaking, and Quality of Life addressed in the research.

To learn about career exploration and pathways development, please visit Erie County Career Pathways Alliance (ECCPA) or click here for an overview!


JCLA 2020 cover

Leadership in a Time of Crisis: Proposing a Preparedness Model for Erie County

The 2020 JCLA Cohort was tasked with examining the topic of “Leadership in a Time of Crisis: Proposing a Preparedness Model for Erie County.” They explored this topic during the COVID-19 global pandemic and decided to address it by sharing resiliency information and tactics with businesses through a free and easily accessible speaker series. Please click on LEARN MORE below to read the full report and learn about the background of the COVID-19 Pandemic; its impacts on Pennsylvania and the Erie region; Erie County responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic; the creation of a speaker series, reflection, and potential future opportunities. To watch the videos of “The JCLA Business Speaker Series: Resources for Building Resiliency during Uncertain Times” please click HERE!


Blue Economy in Erie County

The 2019 JCLA cohort explored the Blue Economy and addressed what they learned in this group action project. The goals of this project was to educate residents and visitors of Erie County about the Blue Economy and vast opportunities that exist in the areas of science, infrastructure and economic development, and to create broader awareness through an educational exhibit that showcases the current state of the Blue Economy and key opportunities that exist for Erie County.

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Trapped in poverty 

In 2018, JCLA participants applied the lessons learned from the program to a group action project focused on Poverty in Erie County, which yielded the creation of a Community Poverty Index. This project identified and addressed structural impediments to elevating the economic status of people living in poverty by examining a selection of resources in low-income, middle-income, and high-income ZIP codes across Erie County. 

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In addressing the opioid epidemic, the 2017 JCLA cohort produced the media awareness campaign, Many Stories, One Story, to change the conversation about addiction from one of demonizing stigma to one of encouragement and compassion. The participants interviewed recovering addicts, policy experts, and medical professionals in an effort to shed light on the crisis sweeping the nation.

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The 2016 JCLA participants drafted A Citizen’s Action Guide to Blight to highlight successful strategies for addressing blight undertaken by other cities and regions. The group’s work has since been cited in various meetings and remains a vital tool for the region’s leaders when discussing blight and how to combat it.

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Tunnel Concept

The 2015 JCLA cohort explored forming a potential connection between Erie’s east side and the eastern part of Presque Isle. Their research led to numerous discussions and meetings regarding the feasibility to address the limited access to Presque Isle.

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