Making a Difference Since Day One

Community Development Institute’s origin story begins in 1970, on the heels of the civil rights movement. CDI’s co-founder, Carolyn Miller’s activism during that historic time, led her to envision and create an organization focused on ending inequality in local communities. More than 50 years later, CDI staff continue to live into our vision of being extraordinary leaders in the world, calling forth greatness with a commitment to excellence in the community. We continue to build capacity, strengthen programs, and transform leaders in the most vulnerable communities across the United States.

Values We Hold True

Throughout our history, CDI has operated from a place of shared values. These values guide how we work together and create positive impact in communities. 

  • Valuing, acknowledging and seeking diversity
  • Supporting growth and learning for individuals in addition to the organization as a whole
  • Seeing the strengths within people, nurturing their potential and calling forth their talents
  • Matching people’s passions with their jobs
  • Valuing self-reflective staff who take responsibility for themselves and their relationships
  • Encouraging staff to hold themselves accountable for the accomplishment of their own jobs as well as for the goals of the whole organization
  • Empowering staff to be effective problem solvers
  • Designing good jobs and expecting people to do a good job

A Perfect Fit: Over Fifty Years of Work in the World of Head Start

CDI’s story is inextricably intertwined with the work of Head Start, the federal program which promotes the school readiness of infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children from income eligible families. The goals and mission of the Head Start program, perfectly align with CDI’s own, which has led to remarkable results; since the 1970s CDI has served the Head Start community in a variety of capacities including:

  • Providing training and technical assistance at the regional level in Regions V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI for 33 years.
  • Innovating a model for what would eventually become Head Start and Child Care Partnerships during the QUILT project, 1997–2003.
  • Customizing tools and systems for the unique needs of grant recipients as the Table Project, 2008–2011.
  • Supporting regional offices and grant recipients during the DRS transition process through Transition Works.
  • Identifying and securing the federal government’s property interests in millions of dollars of facilities through the Real Property Facilities Initiative.
  • Directly operating Head Start programs across the United States and Puerto Rico on an interim basis as the National Interim Management Contractor.  At CDI, we are Head Start people as evidenced by our ongoing history serving the communities of Head Start.

Inspiring People and Communities to Generate Their Own Transformation

In addition to our long-standing role in the world of Head Start, CDI has also worked with the Office of Child Care (OCC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In line with Carolyn Miller’s vision to end inequities we have also worked with Tribal communities in their development and implementation of early childhood programs through the National Center on Tribal Child Care Implementation and Innovation for OCC. In working to provide equal access to safe and healthy environments, CDI is developing accessible information and tools for early childhood educators through funding from the EPA. Our work has bridged to the private sector as well, where we have collaborated with agencies to strengthen organizational systems, structures, and staff engagement, using an Appreciative Inquiry approach: building from strengths to achieve extraordinary results.

IMG_7107 4 person group