FLINT, Mich. — Diplomat on Wednesday announced that it is partnering with area leaders to provide the necessary funding to expand Dr. Phil Zimbardo's Hero Imagination Project to the Flint area. The HIP's licensed empowerment programs will be used as a catalyst to transform Flint from one of the most dangerous communities in the country into the nation's first "Hero Town."
HIP is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization created to broaden awareness of human social tendencies and teach effective action in challenging situations to foster pro-social behavior. Zimbardo, professor emeritus of Psychology at Stanford University, leads the effort to translate extensive research findings in social psychology and related fields into meaningful tools that can be used in everyday life to transform negative situations into positive change. Zimbardo specializes in psychological foundations of negative forms of social influence and is focused on understanding the nature of everyday heroism and the psychology of personal and social growth.
Zimbardo was the keynote speaker at last year's Hero Round Table conference in Flint, where researchers came to discuss various aspects of heroism. Diplomat was the title sponsor for the 2013 international conference and will continue to be the title sponsor for the next two years as an impetus to philanthropically transform the perception of the Flint community. One year later, leaders have purchased a license to implement Zimbardo's curriculum and conduct subsequent hero research in Flint to help drive the city's transformation. Local obstetrician and gynecologist Nita Kulkarni is among the group of community leaders who have been working with Zimbardo to secure the funding.
Kulkarni has been working with Matt Langdon and Adam Hartley, organizers of the annual Hero Round Table, to create Hero Town Flint, a non-profit that will manage the expansion of HIP's programs in Flint and oversee the implementation of hero training workshops in after-school groups and community youth organizations. The research-tested curriculum will create awareness among Flint students while introducing the most effective tools to combat negative social conformity, the bystander effect, and to empower Flint's youth to take action in their community.
Flint native Cora Keene, the executive administrator for HIP, will return to her hometown in September to train key leaders in the community, from educators to business owners, who have stepped up to make the heroism effort effective and successful. Those trained will be certified to administer the hero training workshops for students, employees and community groups exclusively in Genesee County.
"We are creating a new generation of better citizens who will be emblematic of the best Flint, Michigan has to offer," Zimbardo said.
Diplomat has donated a total of $20,000 to the Hero Foundation, a portion of which will be used to secure licensing of the HIP curriculum.
Diplomat also is the title sponsor for the Hero Round Table Conference at the Whiting on Sept. 19 to 20, and will put forth an additional $25,000 to purchase 200 tickets for community leaders and its employees.
"I believe that heroism can have a significant impact on this community," said Phil Hagerman, Diplomat CEO. "This effort is providing the latest research and tools to change the lives of individuals and the reputation of the greater Flint community."