A guiding principle of the Woodson Center is that solutions to the most pressing societal problems exist within the affected communities. When asked who they would turn to in times of crisis, residents invariably point to one person or group within the community whose outreach is a vital resource. The Woodson Center has identified and helped to strengthen the efforts of more than 2,881 neighborhood leaders in 40 states who are tackling issues ranging from homelessness, addiction, to joblessness, youth violence and the need for education and training. These indigenous agents of health and healing have a long-term commitment to their work and are available on a 24/7 basis. They have firsthand experience of the problems they address, have earned the trust and response of those they serve, and have designed their outreach to meet the specific, unique needs of their neighborhoods. In many cases, a revitalization of vision and values is prerequisite before opportunities such as job training and employment can be of benefit, and these community leaders, through personal consistent outreach have been able to elicit that transformation.
By strengthening and supporting the work of such neighborhood leaders throughout the nation through training, technical assistance, and funding, the Woodson Center has promoted substantial and sustainable community and individual revitalization.