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February 11, 2004

National Congress Of Neighborhood Women To Meet At Smith

Public Invited to Strategy Sessions in Grassroots Community Development

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -- Over the weekend of Feb. 19-22, people in the Valley will have a unique opportunity to learn about -- and from -- representatives of the National Congress of Neighborhood Women (NCNW) when they gather at Smith for a conference, titled "Sharing Strategies: Thirty Years of Grassroots Women in Community Development."

NCNW representatives from areas including St. Louis, New York City and the Appalachian region of Tennessee will join members of the international organization GROOTS (Grassroots Women Operating Together in Sisterhood) for three days of discussion on topics ranging from the history of NCNW to international organizing strategies. The following events, which will take place in Neilson Library Browsing Room, are free and open to the public.

- "Communities Claiming Knowledge: Three Communities Develop Living Learning Centers as a National Demonstration." 3 to 6 p.m., Friday, Feb. 20
-"Local Organizing/National Networking in a Global Context." Veteran leaders of National Congress of Neighborhood Women will reflect on the history of the national network, their roles in developing their respective communities and the influences of grassroots women abroad in their local work. A reception will follow. 2:30 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 21
-"Campus/Community Partnerships: What Works, What Doesn't?" Women from Holyoke, Mass., community organizations and the Pioneer Valley colleges and universities with whom they've partnered, will join NCNW members for a critical review of their collaborative efforts. This discussion is supported by a "Raise Your Voice" grant from Massachusetts Campus Compact that is part of a national effort to engage students in public life through support for student voices, service and engagement in our democratic processes. 4:30 to 6 p. m., Saturday, Feb. 21

Founded in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1975 as "the first national federation of blue collar, neighborhood women," NCNW is committed to empowering working-class women, helping them become effective leaders in their communities. Over the years -- with financial support from HUD, the Ford Foundation and elsewhere -- NCNW has developed a network of grassroots women leaders and organizations from both urban and rural areas from Puerto Rico to the Pacific Northwest. The group has an extensive program of education, job skills and leadership training -- including the founding of several community-based satellite college programs -- and focuses on housing, job training, education and making a place for women in community development.

The NCNW meeting is the 2004 Kathleen Ridder Conference, an annual Smith event designed to explore current research on gender. It is made possible by the Kathleen Ridder Fund, which honors former Smith College President Jill Ker Conway.

Additional funding was provided by Smith's Project on Women and Social Change, Office of the President, Women's Studies Program, and the Sophia Smith Collection, as well as the Ford Foundation and Woman Connect. The event is being held in collaboration with this year's Kahn Liberal Arts Institute program, "Problems of Democracy." For more information, e-mail René Heavlow at or visit


Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Marti Hobbes
News Assistant
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