The ICF Foundation’s mission is to connect and equip professional coaches and organizations to accelerate social progress through coaching. The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Professional Life Coaching Certificate (PLCC) program participants are doing just this; each year, part of the program requirements for students is to complete a passion project of their choosing. Many students choose to donate their time and talents in a way that is changing the lives of those in their community for the better. They are using their skills as coaches to create positive changes by sharing those skills with local non-profits. Here’s a spotlight on two of many PLCC Alumni and projects that are creating community good and accelerating social progress.

Coaching Workshop for Those Living with Housing Challenges

Brent Eastabrooks, human resource professional in the global healthcare industry, worked with the START Program in Stoughton, Wisconsin for his passion project. START, which assists those with housing challenges and homelessness, was excited to welcome Brent into their office to assist leaders in developing a life-coaching centric workshop approach to aid their clients. Executive Director and Social Worker Cindy Thompson is excited by the avenues the coaching workshop opened up for her with regard to reaching out to and helping her clients:

We had 10 START participants in the life coaching workshop. These individuals were very low income, homeless, or at risk of homelessness at the time. Since the workshop, they’ve received ongoing support from me through case management and follow-up while working toward goals set during the workshop.

When asked about the feedback START received from program participants, Brent and Cindy stated that it was glowing. According to Brent, “one client raved that ‘coaching [learned through the workshop] helped me with insight on how I can help myself and get more in action [in my life]’.” Cindy wants to hear more and more accolades like that, knowing that coaching workshops like this can increase the impact for many more of those they serve.

My goal is to provide a second workshop this year for an additional ten (10) new participants (previous participants who would like to attend will be invited as well). The workshops allow these folks an opportunity to reflect and work towards overcoming personal barriers and challenges. It is an opportunity for them to receive coaching in a setting where they would not have gotten it otherwise. Past participants shared the impact of the workshop experience with me and the positive outcome that it had on their lives. These results allowed my board of directors to approve incorporating coaching as a staple tool within our organization moving forward to provide our client population with an additional resource.

Coaching Culture Established at Big Brothers Big Sisters Organization

After completing her coach training, Program Director Johnna Georgia of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County introduced coaching to her organization. Johnna created and trained her team to use a coach-approach model in serving their client population. Over the last year, Johnna and her team assisted over 1800 individuals within their county, 609 of which are children, by applying a coach approach with everyone involved in each Little-Big-Parent “match process.”

Our goal at BBBS is to ensure the relationship match between the Little (child), Big (mentor), and Parent of the Little is thriving. As we know from the world of coaching – relationships are hard work! When we call and check in with the Bigs, Parents, and Littles, we often hear of little red flags that have the potential to sour the relationship. Our job in the past was to give advice and triage the problem.

Because BBBS strives to empower all their team members and clients through supportive relationships, Johnna immediately saw how coaching could serve their population.

We wanted to change our culture so that our response (when we see little red flags arise) was based in coaching techniques, acknowledging that the person we talked to, whether they are the Big, Parent, or Little, is a stakeholder in this relationship and much more capable of determining an appropriate course of action than we are as outsiders.

Johnna is excited to note that the staff see real value in operating in this new and different way. Not only do they realize the benefit from withholding advice, but they see how giving the client room to explore what is really affecting them, challenging them to consider different perspectives, and giving them a chance to lift themselves into the big picture is incredibly empowering. The results are impressive enough that Johnna reports that BBBS plans to continue providing training for staff on coaching techniques in the future.

The intention is that every Big-Little-Parent match/relationship is positively affected by the coaching techniques that staff are learning. Our overall goal is that more Big-Little-Parent matches are together longer because the relationships among themselves are stronger [as a result of the coach-approach].”

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Johnna and Brent exemplified the Wisconsin ideal of bringing the classroom into the community and the ICF Foundation mission of accelerating social progress through coaching. Projects like these can be replicated in coach training programs worldwide, truly utilizing the power of coaching to make a positive impact in communities across the globe.

Chariti Gent, MA, CPCC, PCC, is the Director and Lead Instructor for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Professional Life Coaching Certificate (PLCC) Program.

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