Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute

As a region, we have the resources to ensure that everyone can thrive and prosper. To make that happen, we need to increase the political participation and decision-making power of low-income communities of color. Enter the Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI).

Cultivating Leaders of Color

We deeply invest in each cohort beginning with a six-month training, which helps participants understand complex and intersecting policy areas, navigate the culture and language of commissions, and build effective relationships. After completing the training, Urban Habitat staff help participants get appointed to serve on a public board or commission and support commissioners throughout their service.

Supporting Advocacy Campaigns

BCLI supports advocacy campaigns and social justice movements by connecting emerging leaders to commissions to advance community-led solutions. Throughout the training, fellows learn from and collaborate with grassroots leaders, policy experts, and other advocates in their communities and across the region. As a result, they deepen their policy expertise, increase their knowledge of the region, and develop relationships with allies to help them champion solutions grounded in community experiences.

Advancing Equitable Policies

BCLI-trained commissioners ask critical questions about who benefits and who is burdened by policy decisions, and they provide solutions that integrate community participation and perspectives. By making race and class analyses a part of commission decisions, BCLI-trained commissioners help to ensure that decisions benefit communities who have been historically marginalized.

Is BCLI Right for You?

  • Do you want to take your leadership to the next level? Serving on a commission offers the opportunity to use your advocacy and organizing skills inside government to advance equitable policies.
  • Do you want to help create a transparent and accessible government? Building a bridge between low-income communities of color and government allows marginalized communities to become more involved with decisions that impact their daily lives.
  • Do you want to develop a system of co-governance? Working with and holding yourself accountable to low-income communities of color creates solutions that benefit the most vulnerable members of our community and result in equitable policies.
  • Do you want to advance equitable land use, housing, transportation, and/or environmental justice policies? Participating in the program will expose you to regional and local policy campaigns, which coupled with your lived experiences, will enable you to become a more effective advocate.
BCLI-Right-for-you (360x360)

What to Expect


BCLI is a lifelong program. It starts with a six month training and continues throughout your career as an advocate commissioner with personal technical assistance and professional development opportunities through the BCLI Alumni Network.

Training and Schedule

The training consists of all-day sessions once a month for six months with the full cohort (hubs) and four weeknight sessions consisting of sub-cohorts by county (spokes). In addition, participants are required to attend four monthly webinars. All of these sessions are mandatory. Exact dates are publicized when we begin accepting applications. Sign up for our newsletter to receive notifications about the application process.

Technical Assistance

Participants will receive support in applying for a board or commission and once appointed, Urban Habitat staff will provide ongoing technical assistance to help you achieve your equity goals.

Application Process

We accept applications in the fall, generally immediately after Labor Day. We only accept applications by individuals nominated by a community-based organization, usually a membership-based group or policy/advocacy partner.

Each candidate will be interviewed by a panel that consists of Urban Habitat staff, allies, and BCLI alumni. The new cohort is selected before the end of the year.

To learn more about the next application deadline and requirements, sign up to receive our newsletter. You will be informed not only about BCLI but also learn more about Urban Habitat’s ongoing policy campaigns.

"We have responded to dozens of funding opportunities, netting over $1 million for small and large pieces of project-specific funding. We point to our track record, much of which is the work of our amazing BCLI alumni. Thank you and the whole UH family for sustaining and organically evolving BCLI as a critical resource."

Duane Bay
Executive Director, EPACANDO & Pahali CLT

More about BCLI