The history of DCA is rooted in the history of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation’s Mid South Delta Initiative (MSDI). This initiative provided training, technical assistance and funding to 15 community-based alliances situated across the Delta regions of Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. A central feature of the initiative was the periodic convening of representatives from the various community alliances for purposes of mutual learning, sharing of lessons learned and program planning. As MSDI neared its completion, representatives of the community alliances realized that the lessons of collaboration and alliance formation needed to be elevated and applied at the regional level on a sustainable basis. Consequently, in February 2004, members of the 15 community alliances convened in Greenville, Mississippi, to launch the Delta Citizens Alliance (DCA).
The names of the 15 organizations involved in this effort included:
- Beacons and Bridges
- Comprehensive Urban Rural Ensemble Tourism
- East Arkansas Enterprise Community
- Lee County Family Resource Center
- Renewal, Inc.
- Southeast Arkansas Regional Development Council
- Tourism and Business Initiative of Eastern Arkansas
- East Carroll Cultural Tourism
- Northeast Louisiana Delta Community Development Corporation
- Belzoni-Humphreys Development Foundation
- Greenville Higher Education Center
- HEGA Transportation
- Mid-Delta Workforce Alliance
- Quitman County Development Organization
- West Holmes Community Development Corporation
The aim of the alliance was to create an organization that would enable citizens and communities to have a voice in the decisions which impact them and the region at large. Another important aim of DCA was to provide a mechanism whereby citizen-driven initiatives will impact upon the overall advancement of the Mid South Delta region.
The founding members of DCA received planning support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The support came in the form of two planning grants and technical assistance from the team of MSDI coaches. The nine-month process resulted in the formulation of a strategic management document, which involved hundreds and hundreds of committed volunteer hours. At times contentious, unusually honest, always committed and full of Delta spun humor, the volunteers worked through myriad complex issues and competing programmatic agendas to forge the DCA vision, mission, goals and strategies in the context of social, economic, political and cultural realities that support citizen led systemic change throughout the region.
DCA has achieved its aim of becoming a network of citizen-centered organizations united to build sustainable communities in the region. DCA has presently evolved to a membership base of over 600 individual members, over 135 non- profit members, and over 35 corporate members. Organizations involved in DCA focus their efforts on economic development, population retention, asset accumulation and provision of committed support and resources to impact system change. The aim now is to advance to the next level with an emphasis on a more focused program strategy that will stimulate change and transformation at both community and regional levels.
Arkansas Board of Directors
Mississippi Board of Directors