The Bingham Fellows program was created as a result of the tenacity and dedication of Leadership Louisville alumni and the vision of Mary and Barry Bingham. From the first class in 1980, the Leadership Louisville experience gave participants a deeper understanding of particular community issues. They would be inspired or become passionate about an issue, and want to take action. The Bingham Fellows program became a natural next step for Leadership Louisville graduates.
The Bingham Fellows as Social Entrepreneurs
The Bingham Fellows serve as examples of social entrepreneurship in the region. Social entrepreneurs are people or organizations that have both a vision and the ability to assemble the resources required to implement that vision to address obvious social needs.
For 20 years Bingham Fellows projects, including the homebuilding efforts in downtown Louisville and the building of a new community center, have demonstrated both imagination and practical gathering of critical resources that are needed to effect social change.
Snapshots of some key accomplishments of Bingham Fellows classes
Affordable Housing – 1989
Following their research, the class identified a number of public and private sector groups involved in promoting and developing housing for low-income populations. The Fellows quickly saw that these disparate groups could have a greater impact if their resources and efforts were better coordinated. In 1989, the Bingham Fellows proposed forming The Housing Partnership Inc., which brought together bankers, builders, government officials and civic leaders to build affordable housing. Today, The Housing Partnership is an entrepreneurial corporation that provides technical consultation and assistance for housing development. The Partnership helps with site management of land development and construction and assists with collaborative financing of community development projects.
Changing the way we think about garbage – 1992
It’s difficult to remember a time when recycling wasn’t a part of our daily lives. But as recently as 1991, Louisville was facing literally a growing crisis in solid waste. Landfill space in the county and region was being exhausted and recycling regulations were being rolled out. The Fellows outlined a broadly focused educational campaign to provide information to schools, the business community, government and the community as a whole. To implement the new regulations, the Bingham Fellows helped to develop a board whose purpose was to direct the management of solid waste. The new solid waste authority, formed through state legislation, was the board of directors for the Louisville/Jefferson County Waste Management District, also known as the 109 Board, which still serves Louisville Metro today.
New Partnerships for Safe Neighborhoods – 1994
During the course of community meetings with Smoketown residents, class members became concerned about vandalism at Presbyterian Community Center (PCC). Their research on urban areas pointed out that vandalism can intensify crime in neighborhoods and may lead to more serious criminal transgressions.
One of the Bingham Fellows, attorney Grover Potts, made a site visit to PCC to assess the situation and was taken aback by the neglected state of the building. Potts had a vision for an improved facility for PCC that could serve as a cornerstone of Smoketown. It could provide essential services and support for residents while simultaneously helping to reduce crime in the area. Potts got the class to support establishing a new building for the PCC saying, “It provided social, economic, health-related and physical activities for children and seniors; it was the place where anybody with a problem would to find some relief.”
Not surprisingly, the main issue in building a new community center was money. The Bingham Fellows secured a gift of $1 million from the Brown Foundation, as well as other gifts, both large and small, for a grand total of $4 million. The new Presbyterian Community Center opened officially in July 2002.
Maintaining and Developing World Class Arts in Louisville – 1997
As part of their research, the Fellows decided to assemble arts leaders to discuss their common challenges and opportunities. As a result of this initial gathering, the fledgling Arts and Cultural Attractions Council (ACA) was bolstered by the attention that the Bingham Fellows brought to the issue. The purpose of the ACA is to help regional arts groups work together to identify common goals and pursue projects and events that accomplish their common objectives.
In 1999, the ACA became affiliated with Greater Louisville Inc. and became one of Greater Louisville Inc.’s Business Networks, which further accelerated the progress of the organization. Learn more about the ACA.
Building stronger ties with Southern Indiana – 2000
Michael N. Harreld, then-regional president of PNC Bank and Leadership Louisville board chair, inspired a closer look by the Bingham Fellows on Louisville’s relationship with Southern Indiana.
The Bingham Fellows traveled to Northern Kentucky to examine how the counties and cities in that region were able to cooperate so effectively to unite geographic boundaries. Upon returning to Louisville, core members of the group formed the Regional Leadership Coalition (RLC).
The RLC’s mission was to build ties throughout the area with the goal of creating a cohesive region that might be more competitive economically.
Today, the RLC has evolved into a partnership between Greater Louisville Inc. and the newly formed One Southern Indiana. Accelerating the progress of the Ohio River Bridges project remains a major RLC priority.
In April of 2012, the RLC rebranded itself as the Kentucky Indiana Exchange. The Kentucky Indiana Exchange (KIX) is “a bi-state, non-partisan organization of regional leaders focused on cultivating regional thinking and action around shared opportunities and mutual challenges. … KIX does this by connecting people and organizations throughout the region as well as advocating, supporting and incubating key regional initiatives.”
Add It Up to support the Math and Science initiatives – 2007
The 2007 Bingham Fellows created activities and opportunities to engage the community in support of the $25 million GE-Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) Math and Science Initiative. The Bingham Fellows received a $50,000 grant from the UPS Foundation to provide seed money for their projects.
The Bingham Fellows culminating project was the Add it Up Challenge! weekend which was designed to raise awareness of the importance of math and science education. Over that weekend the Bingham Fellows held the Add It Up! 5k Run downtown and took over the Louisville Bats’ Game later that evening. Overall, their projects resulted in approximately 18.5 million impressions.
The Bingham Fellows activities have been documented in a community leadership tool kit that public school systems in other cities, such as Cincinnati and Atlanta, can use to support the GE education grants.
Position Louisville as a ‘green’ leader – 2010
Nearly 300 organizations in Louisville have sustainability and greening in their missions. The Fellows worked to support their efforts through information and idea sharing as well as the creation of an umbrella organization to provide connections among the organizations.
After studying other cities and efforts already in place in Louisville, the Fellows produced recommendations for changes to Louisville’s approach to sustainability on building projects. These recommendations included regulatory changes to encourage green building practices that were accepted and passed by Metro Council in July 2011. In 2012, a member of this Bingham Fellows class, Maria Koetter, was named the city’s first Sustainability Director. In January 2013, the Mayor’s Office released it’s draft of the Sustain Louisville plan. (Note: Page 6 of the Sustain Louisville plan details the 2010 Bingham Fellows work.)
Shaping Louisville for the 21st Century – 2011
To create and execute an infrastructure master vision for Louisville, the 2011 Bingham Fellows developed a three-pronged approach. Their first step was to ensure that an infrastructure plan was aligned with economic development strategy and job creation. They secured funding from IBM Global Business Services to assess Louisville’s competitiveness in regard to infrastructure, particularly in regard to logistics.
The next step is developing a long-term strategic plan modeled on the groundbreaking PlaNYC undertaken by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The Bingham Fellows created Plan Louie, an integrated vision for infrastructure investment which they delivered to the mayor in December of 2011. At the Leadership Louisville Luncheon in 2012, Mayor Fischer announced his plan to develop a 25-year vision for Louisville. Learn more at www.visionlouisville.com.
The new approach in infrastructure decision-making will happen through the creation of an Infrastructure Investment Board. This framework will ensure infrastructure investments generate significant “return” for the community. The board would provide elected officials with advisory recommendations based on objective data and analysis, as opposed to the current ad hoc model. Learn more about the work of the 2011 Bingham Fellows.
Creating a path to prosperity -
Engaging the community to inspire student achievement – 2012
The 2012 Bingham Fellows were tasked with taking a leadership role in engaging parents, families and the business community in the education of our next generation.To broaden resources for family and caregiver involvement, the Bingham Fellows concluded that there isn’t one single approach – solutions need to come from multiple angles and the whole community has a role to play. Their comprehensive approach is focused on the building blocks of school, community and families and they developed solutions to address each of these elements. Learn more about the work of the 2012 Bingham Fellows.