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Social Connectedness / 2013

The South LA Hub: Strengthening Nonprofits in South Los Angeles

The South LA Hub: Strengthening Nonprofits in South Los Angeles

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Jemmott Rollins Group

Imagine a stronger, more connected South LA. This vision means more resident participation, deeper connections between community members, and greater collaboration amongst community organizations. The road to this vision of Los Angeles relies on strengthening and supporting the entities that are designed to bring people together.

We are working with a group of non-profits to create a hub for capacity building using the talents and strengths of nine veteran organizations who have worked in the field. By finding new roles for these veteran leaders and managers in South LA, we create pathways for emerging leaders, increase earned income for the nonprofits by providing consulting and technical assistance to their peers and strengthen social connection through these interactions. Our goal is to fortify the nonprofit infrastructure in a part of LA that is underserved in order to see a stronger movement towards civic engagement.

Capacity building and technical assistance support is a $2billion industry in the US led by consultants and for-profit management service agencies (Foundation Center). By coalescing nonprofit organizations in South LA and establishing a physical space for these leaders and managers to crowdsource, our model will increase collaborative efforts and result in healthier nonprofit organizations. The hub model conserves resources by promoting strategic partnerships and assist organizations in developing business plans, exchanging skills and knowledge, breaking their isolation and adding more focus to their individual efforts.

Envision a place in South LA bustling with small groups of nonprofit leaders collaborating to share ideas and spark innovation. Imagine a hub for peer learning that is available to members in Spanish and English, with sessions led not by external experts, but by people in the community that leaders can relate to. Here nonprofit managers can bring their questions on the difficult to navigate financial statements, for example, and receive one-on-one support from a peer organization trained and verified as having skill within this topic of interest. This mentor organization will serve as an ongoing point of contact for resource sharing between the two agencies. Both organizations participate in peer-led sessions on community mobilization strategies while gaining partners in day-to-day challenges of managing an organization as well as allies in the movement to engage communities.

Different than other collaborative models already at work in South LA and Boyle Heights, this effort works specifically build capacity within organizations versus creating a campaign or agenda. Our goal is to provide tools to organizations so that they might be more effective and connected to others when engaging in work of their own.

With the support of LA2050, we will take the first step in creating this environment. By December 31, 2013 we will design this buh-like model and launch a series of ‘Peer-led Consulting Convenings’ to engage at least 100 South LA organizations in peer-led capacity building support around their pressing management challenges. This effort requires the identification and training of nine veteran nonprofits with demonstrated skill in civic engagement work and internal management. At least 30 participating organizations will benefit from one-one-one consulting support from the veteran leaders. Through the convenings, these trained veterans will offer free, high-quality consulting to their peers, building a stronger network of capable community engagement organizations within the nonprofit landscape. In turn, these organizations will be more resilient and better equipped to lead Los Angeles towards a new era of greater connectedness.


What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

As a management consulting firm, Jemmott Rollins Group has built a reputation for developing innovative concepts and providing leadership in working with marginalized communities. Relevant achievements to this effort include:

- Facilitated an 18 month planning process for South Los Angeles Building Healthy Communities, a ten-year, comprehensive community initiative of the California Endowment to revolutionize the way Californians think about and support health in their communities.

- Conceptualized and currently serves as lead coordinator of Strong Field Project, a four-year effort by the Blue Shield of California Foundation aimed at building a strong, coordinated network of domestic violence service providers in California.

Provided a space for Black, Latino and Southeast Asian boys and men of color to connect with local and state officials on issues affecting young men in South LA, East LA and Long Beach through the Brothers, Sons, Selves campaign, a project funded by the Liberty Hill Foundation and the California Endowment.

- Provided consulting services to over 30 nonprofits and foundations in California, garnering testimonials that include the following:

"JRG is uniquely qualified to facilitate and support the complex process of community change. They 'get it' in a way that few others do." —Tom David, Tides Network, San Franscisco

"JRG helped diversify our funding base, increase capacity and manage growth. Every time we've worked with JRG over the past five years, CoCo has taken a leap in organizational development."—Aurea Montes-Rodriguez, Community Coalition, Los Angeles

"JRG helped us realize that we all need to step back and look at the big picture every so often so that we make sure we keep on the right track." —Ben Schirmer, Rainbow Services, San Pedro

For additional background information, please visit our website at jemmottrollinsgroup.net.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

Jemmott Rollins Group, acting as lead coordinator is partnering with CompassPoint Nonprofit Services (www.compasspoint.org), a leader in nonprofit coaching, peer learning and leadership development. Although identifying the nine partner organizations is a critical step for once the initiative has begun, already, outstanding organizations have expressed commitment to participate in this work. One of these leading nonprofits is the Community Coalition of South Los Angeles (www.cocosouthla.org), a veteran community action organization based in South Los Angeles.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

Jemmott Rollins Group will evaluate the project in large part by measuring organizational change as a result of participation in the program. This information wil be collected through analysis of the needs assessments of a sample group of organizations and post-convening surveys and interviews. With the nine partner organizations, we will use the Core Capacity Assessment Tool (CCAT) to more systematically measure growth before and after participating in coaching, training and consulting engagement.

The CCAT is a 146-question online survey developed by TCC group (http://www.tccccat.com/) that measures a nonprofit organization's effectiveness and can taken multiple times to measure development over time. “The CCAT is the most comprehensive, valid, and reliable tool of its kind, and has been used by funders and nonprofits as a planning, capacity building, research, and evaluation tool.” – TCC Group.

How will your project benefit Los Angeles?

With the city’s massive physical landscape, our slow move towards an integrated public transit system, and the fast-paced lifestyle many of us lead, it’s not easy for Angelenos to connect with one another. Without mechanisms to facilitate interactions, or organizations ready with the skills, strategies and tactics to effectively encourage public engagement, Los Angeles will have more of the same fragmented, often unengaged communities. Our goal is to build up Los Angeles organizations that focus on civic engagement, voter turn-out, neighborhood-based advocacy, and local community building to change this.

With stronger, more collaborative, and strategic community organizations, Los Angeles residents will receive better services, become more informed, and find new pathways to participate in community. In time, this means higher voter turnout, greater civic discourse, heightened community collaboration, and new organizations and campaigns coming from the ground up. These neighborhood based initiatives would be made of people with skills to tackle almost any issue – from crime and violence prevention to low-performing schools and public health.

UCLA’s Luskin Center for Public Affairs’ report on the state of non-profit organizations in Los Angeles County found an extreme service gap in low-income communities – nonprofits exist in the lowest numbers in poor neighborhoods. This means that, at present day, the people in Los Angeles who have the least support are those who essentially need it the most. Our focus on South Los Angeles represents a desire to reverse the service gap by strengthening the organizations that already exist so that they might more effectively engage Angelenos. The regional emphasis also represents our long-term commitment to serving underserved communities of color. We strongly believe that the South Los Angeles Hub is the first step in designing an engagement model that can be replicated city-wide.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

We could be described as friendly antagonists. Certainly we have a history and track record of cooperation and collaboration with the efforts of other management service organizations. We have learned from them and engaged in thought partnership with them. Our efforts in many ways complement theirs and have caused them to step up their efforts in areas like culturally-competent capacity building and deconstructing racism as a factor that perpetuates poverty and injustices.