Fresno’s Leading Young Professionals established Downtown Academy in 2010 to answer the question: how do we make downtown Fresno a vibrant place to live and work? In 2016, the Downtown Fresno Partnership and Fresno’s Leading Young Professionals joined forces to make the program even bigger and better. This year, the program enters its 7th cohort with over 100 graduating members.
So, what is Downtown Academy? Downtown Academy is a 10-month award-winning collaborative program designed to connect key business, government, and community leaders with forward-thinking young professionals to explore downtown Fresno, how we got here and where we’re headed. Downtown Academy received the 2016 Leadership & Management Excellence Award from the International Downtown Association.
The class meets on the first Wednesday of every month, unless otherwise noted, to take tours of downtown projects and hear from community leaders about obstacles and opportunities in our city center. In short, Downtown Academy visits cool places, eats great food, and makes great connections.
This program was referred to as “one of the best programs to come out of the revitalization movement” by former mayor, Ashley Swearengin (3.3.2016).
Are there refunds?
No. Never. Not for any reason. Your class fees go towards food, travel, admissions, and lodging throughout the entire 10-month program. We pay many of these expenses up front and we are charged whether you are there or not. Unfortunately, we cannot give refunds.
Do I have to attend all 9 classes?
Yes and no. By agreeing to participate, we expect that you will be present for all 9 classes. However, we do allow for two (2) excused absences per student. If a student misses more than two (2) classes, this will result in dismissal from the program. The overnight field trip is mandatory. If absent, this alone will result in removal/dismissal from the program.
What’s in it for me?
Downtown Academy is a great opportunity for FLYP members to become more involved in and informed about the downtown community.
You’ll hear incredible stories from local business owners, explore spaces you didn’t know existed, and view the city from the tallest buildings. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of city planning, placemaking, and urban design. You’ll create a tight network with other young professionals who are committed to Fresno’s future, dine at a variety of downtown restaurants, and volunteer your time with businesses that directly impact downtown’s revitalization. And finally, each graduate will be considered Downtown Fresno Boosters after graduation!
What should I expect on a typical class day?
Plenty of walking, learning, and fun! We start each evening with dinner at a downtown restaurant at 5:30 pm. We depart the designated meeting spot and spend the next two hours visiting downtown sites: historic buildings, offices, tunnels, galleries, lofts, and more. At each stop we talk with business owners, community leaders, artists, visionaries, executives, and residents about their unique perspective of downtown Fresno. Classes take places rain or shine, hot or cold, and we walk a lot. We will do our best to make accommodations for any class members with unique physical or health needs.
Below is the general format of each class (subject to change). In some cases, dinner and the tour(s) will be swapped, depending on sunlight and guide schedules.
What can I expect on the field trip?
This is an overnight trip. We leave early Saturday by bus (or train!) and spend the day touring a downtown followed by a group discussion over dinner. We spend the night in a hotel, and then continue touring Sunday morning. We wrap up with lunch and then it’s back on the bus (or train!) to Fresno. We walk a lot. Class members are paired two per room, whether you know them or not. All class members are required to ride the bus (or train!) to and from our destination cities. The bus (or train!) trip is an unique experience where class members really get to know one another, build relationships, and become friends! Your class fee pays for travel, lodging, and Saturday dinner. Breakfast and lunches are on your own.
How do I apply?
Applications for Class VII are now closed.
I have more questions. Who can I talk to?
Bianca Camara at the Downtown Fresno Partnership will be happy to answer any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org