Strategic Planning


The Coalition of Limited English Speaking Elderly (CLESE) was incorporated in 1989 following the publication of the Ethnic Elderly Needs Assessment, which demonstrated that limited and non-English speaking older adults needed and were eligible for services, but not receiving them due to barriers of language and culture.  CLESE has consistently acted on its mission for 23 years: to improve the lives of limited English speaking elderly through leadership, education and advocacy.  CLESE now has 51 member organizations serving thousands of limited and non-English speaking older adults every year in multiple programs.

In 2010, the Retirement Research Foundation supported a CLESE Organizational Readiness Assessment.  The final report recommended board member training to ensure that board members understand expectations, their roles and responsibilities.  As part of this proposal, CLESE would like to hold two day long board retreats and six board trainings.  Training on not-for-profit board member duties and organizational management and improvement of understanding of the relationship of programs to funding will be on the agenda during the board training sessions; the first retreat will focus on empowering board members to build action plan using the Appreciative Inquiry approach, and the second retreat will focus on reviewing needs assessments’ findings and on the organizational steps necessary to achieve the goals determined by the strategic planning process.

The needs assessment that was conducted in 1988 missed large groups of immigrants and refugees who later arrived in the Chicago metropolitan area, for example, South Asians and Arabs.  Little information is available on the new generation of those aged 60 and older. CLESE proposes to obtain information on the needs of the present cohort through Census 2010 data and questionnaires targeting the ethno-linguistic organization leaders who serve the elderly.   A second crucial step is to ascertain the needs of CLESE member organizations that provide the needed services.  CLESE would like to have an analysis of the capabilities of its members as well as a clearer understanding of the challenges they are currently facing.  The strategic planning task force has approved the plans to hire Rob Paral and Associates to conduct the census analysis and Dr. Adrian Kok of Dominican University to develop both the questionnaires on the needs of the elderly and also on the needs of the CLESE organizational members.

The third problem, developing a strategic plan for the future, can only begin once information on the needs of the elderly, and the needs of the community organizations that serve them, are better understood.  A board development facilitator chosen by the CLESE board’s strategic planning task force will conduct board retreats for CLESE. 

There are three major project outcomes include a report on the needs of non and limited-English speaking elderly in twenty major language/culture groups, a report on the status of the needs of the 51 CLESE member organizations and a strategic plan that charts the future course of CLESE and outlines plans for providing needed services and obtaining the funding necessary to implement the plans over the next five years.

Work Plan and Timetable:

  • CLESE (staff and strategic task force members) will identify and hire appropriate consultants and facilitators
  • Board trainings will build upon CLESE completed organization readiness assessment; held throughout the strategic planning process during board meetings;
  • Initial board retreat aims to empower board members and staff to create an action plan;held during the first month of project implementation (June 2011)
  • Assessment of needs of older adults through Census data analysis will take place over months 1-4 (May – August, 2011)
  • Assessment of needs of older adults by leaders of ethnic organizations will take place in months 3-6 (July – October, 2011)
  • Assessment of needs of CLESE member organizations will take place over months 7-10 (November 2011 – February 2012)
  • Developing strategic plan and holding the second board retreat will take place over months 11-12 (March – April, 2012)
  • Final report will be written in month 12 (April 2012)

The CLESE board will evaluate the effectiveness of the needs assessment process, both of older adults and of the member organizations.  The CLESE board will fill out evaluation forms during both board retreat events.  The CLESE board will conduct periodic evaluations as the strategic plan is implemented.  Perhaps future events will necessitate a change in the strategic plan timetable; perhaps the plan may need revision. 

Capacity Building Commitment is demonstrated by the enthusiasm of the CLESE members organizations, board and staff; CLESE welcomes the opportunity to increase its organizational capacity and will evaluate and revise the strategic planning process.

 Coalition of Limited English Speaking Elderly (CLESE)
53 West Jackson, Suite 1340
Chicago, IL 60604
312-461-0812  /  312-461-1466 (fax)