connect / 2014

Safe Networks Active Communities

Safe Networks Active Communities

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by WomenShelter of Long Beach

Safe Networks/Active Communities promotes awareness of and prevention of domestic violence in the community and in cyberspace.

Please describe yourself.

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

Safe Networks/Active Communities promotes awareness of and prevention of domestic violence in the community and in cyberspace.

Does your project impact Los Angeles County?

Yes (benefits a region of LA County)

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

  • WSLB’s serves Long Beach and surrounding cities in LA County.

What is your idea/project in more detail?

The Safe Networks/Active Communities (SNAC) project is designed both to protect teen dating violence and domestic violence survivors in the community from threats in cyberspace and to promote awareness and prevention of domestic violence through social media, marketing and community mobilization. The goals of this project are to enhance services to those who have experienced domestic violence; and to conduct outreach (in the community and in cyberspace) that results in more informed dialogue regarding the issue of domestic violence among adults and teens; and to inspire a commitment among Long Beach and LA County residents to participate in the prevention of domestic violence through informed activism and leadership opportunities.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

Start-up activities call for the design/piloting of the project’s cybersafety curriculum and the continued enhancement of WSLB’s online presence. After the curriculum has been evaluated to ensure all issues are addressed and that our methodology is responsive to both the unique learning styles of older teens and adults, the agency will offer “train the trainer “classes to other area shelters and agencies that serve youth and young adults.

Following these activities, the project will extend to the community offline, seeking to engage as many residents as possible in a special year-long project campaign.

Partner agencies will offer three large community events designed to strengthen and connect the community in uniting to end DV. Each hosted event will educate and empower participants, many of whom are DV survivors and the families of victims. Each event will include a survivor’s art exhibit and art workshops with a focus on the I Can/We Can hands- a unique socially engaged art project gaining popularity and momentum in LA County.

Youth Leadership Teams, ages 16-25, and Adult Leadership Teams will be recruited and trained to lead discussions on TDV prevention strategies and healthy relationship practices, as well as receive training on community mobilization techniques.

This effort will increase community awareness about teen dating violence and domestic violence and increase the commitment among Long Beach (and surrounding cities) residents to participate in the prevention of violence through informed activism. Accordingly, the project takes advocacy to a new level, facilitating systemic change while engaging a diverse (and limitless) number of stakeholders.

Our work with youth has become progressively comprehensive in recent years. In addition to the programs we offer at our shelter, at our Domestic Violence Resource Center, and in middle and high school classrooms through the Long Beach Unified School District, we continue to cultivate strong collaborative relationship with local youth-serving agencies. Through all corresponding programs and activities, youth leaders have emerged, and we continue to welcome their involvement as we enhance our prevention work both within the organization and out in the community.

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to CONNECT today? In 2050?

Funded, SNAC will inform future dialogue on teen dating violence and domestic violence. Collaborators, already aware of the need to address intimate partner violence, will appreciate the knowledge we are guaranteed to gain as we develop and implement this special project. Youth and domestic violence agencies will benefit from the increasingly substantive leadership in the area of community education.

WSLB engages in consistent strategic planning to maximize opportunities for collaboration and innovation. WSLB’s Executive Director serves on the Steering Committee of the City of Long Beach Violence Prevention Plan (LBVPP), which comprises representatives from law enforcement, local colleges and universities, the faith community, the judicial branch, the Long Beach Unified School District, public departments, hospitals and clinics, a diversity of local social services providers, and the community at large.

Given the investment that already has taken place toward promoting violence prevention in Long Beach, the community is well-positioned to continue to unite its assets, tap its strengths, and thereby ensure the stability of and support for long-term DV/TDV primary prevention efforts. Tracy M. Colunga, Violence Prevention Coordinator for the City of Long Beach, supports WSLB’s efforts and specifically the actions it would take in addressing Domestic Violence and Teen Dating Violence. The coalition that Ms. Colunga coordinates has demonstrated and documented its commitment to community engagement on this front.

In implementing SNAC, WSLB will be able to draw on the coalition’s resources while taking advantage of the momentum that already has been established. WSLB will relay new knowledge to the coalition’s Steering Committee, thereby maximizing the likelihood of well-coordinated community-wide efforts that reflect best-practice based prevention strategies and practices.

By building connections through community outreach and presentations and the active recruitment of community leaders, WSLB will have a cadre of enthusiastic and committed SNAC volunteers. Through a series of 3 major events, we have a unique opportunity to respond to the community’s “readiness” for community engagement around the issue of partner violence. By including art, drama, social media, and community leadership, we seek to empower and transform individuals and the larger community—as we are all impacted, to some degree, by trauma brought on by DV.

Whom will your project benefit?

The project will be implemented in and for the residents of Long Beach and the surrounding cities, but given WSLB’s efforts – already underway – to utilize social media as part of the agency’s DV/TDV prevention strategy, the project’s reach will potentially be much broader geographically. Because the project’s focus is on TDV/DV and the development of leadership skills vis-à-vis community mobilization, the primary audience will be youth, ages 11-18 and adults of all ages. The very nature of community mobilization is to reach and inspire all, so while the primary audience appears to be related to domestic violence, the project should be viewed as having no audience limitations.

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

WSLB’s current DV/TDV primary prevention efforts maximize local resources and assets in service to youth. Guiding past and current prevention work has been WSLB’s substantive collaboration with the school district, whose representatives have helped to coordinate the delivery of TDV presentations by WSLB’s Youth Services staff. Since 2006, these presentations at middle and high schools have delivered knowledge on TDV while simultaneously introducing local youth to WSLB’s position as an advocate. Post-presentation activities, in turn, have provided WSLB staff with an opportunity to assess the needs of local youth and then bring those assessments to planning sessions with other service providers within the community’s continuum of care.

The Safe Long Beach Steering Committee, as well as the City’s Inter-Department Team – which is charged with strengthening collaboration and coordination among City departments that prevent, intervene, or suppress violence – will continue to oversee and assess prevention developments in Long Beach, and those activities will reinforce the linkages made between WSLB’s work, and the broader work conducted through Safe Long Beach. Accordingly, there will be a variety of opportunities for WSLB to share project information with fellow Long Beach stakeholders.

WSLB also has cultivated strong partnerships with many other youth-serving agencies in the community, and presentations through those agencies have helped reach a greater number of youth while facilitating a collaborative approach to addressing violence prevention – and particularly teen dating violence prevention – in Long Beach.

Through collaborations with program designers, such as A Window Between Worlds, which uses art as a healing tool to empower and transform individuals and communities impacted by violence and trauma, WSLB engages those youth in activities that benefit the community at-large.

Confirmed partners for this funding opportunity include: A Window Between Worlds and Su Casa. Furthermore, Tracy M. Colunga, Violence Prevention Coordinator for the City of Long Beach, endorses this application and strongly recommends it for funding.

Required for the success of this endeavor are: funding for the project, continued collaboration between the existing partners and the acquisition of new partners, and a strong coalition of volunteer leaders.

How will your project impact the LA2050 “Connect” metrics?

  • Rates of volunteerism
  • Adults getting sufficient social & emotional support
  • Attendance at cultural events
  • Participation in neighborhood councils
  • Total number of social media friends (Dream Metric)
  • Attendance at public/open street gatherings (Dream Metric)

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

By having a front-line, established collaborative equipped with the specific knowledge and skills necessary to provide SNAC, WSLB has the capacity to provide the public with an atmosphere of trust, safety and communication to expedite positive change and facilitate a safer community. In a very impactful and strategic way, this project will help to establish the ongoing infrastructure needed to take WSLB and its collaborators (existing and new) to a new level of community engagement.

By building on the capacity of each partner, through a “training the trainer” model, the initiative can be made available to both dating/domestic violence survivors and the greater community. Whether in the intimate setting of our own programs or in the larger community, this project builds community capacity by: increasing awareness of the effects of DV; facilitating the healing of survivors; and building of resilience in individuals and our local community. This form of intervention and education serves to break the cycle of violence.

Working together for more than a decade,the partner agencies have increasingly focused on developing a coordinated community response by collaborating with a wide range of community agencies in recognizing the complexity of domestic violence.

We have, through the implementation of three major events and regular presentations to the public, a unique opportunity to respond to the community’s “readiness” for non-clinical modalities including art, drama, social media, and community (youth and adult) leadership. This will result in empowerment and transformation of individuals and the larger community—as we are all impacted, to some degree, by trauma brought on by domestic violence.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

WSLB will evaluate the project and measure success against realizing the following goals: (1) delivering 10 Train the Trainer sessions; (2) recruiting and training 10 youth leaders and 5 adult leaders through a series of community events and presentations; (3) active participation on five community task forces and coalitions; (4) developing and disseminating cybersafety and other written material that reaches tens of thousands of Long Beach residents; (5) furthering community awareness and dialogue concerning the issues of TDV and DV through three major community events which will reach hundreds, if not thousands, of community members.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

We recognize that primary prevention is the key to addressing the public health crisis of domestic violence. While our mission statement – to eliminate domestic violence through compassionate intervention, education, and personal empowerment – does not include the word prevention, that concept is the very reason we include “education” as part of our work. We are also well aware of not only the legacy of domestic violence- and therefore the need to stop that legacy within families that have suffered from abuse – but also the reason it has become a legacy: lack of community knowledge and lack of community empowerment. As the word “cycle” indicates, domestic violence is taught and learned – passed on from one generation to the next. Without intervention and education of the children in abusive homes, the cycle is bound to be repeated in the younger generation. With appropriate intervention and education, the cycle of generational violence can be eradicated.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

Having now served the Greater Long Beach community for more than 36 years, WSLB’s programs and services are well-established and have withstood the tests of time. Unlike sister agencies that have had to reduce services (and in some cases, close their doors) following the onset of the 2008 recession, WSLB has maintained its programming and continued to plan for future growth. Per the agency’s strategic plan, WSLB is committed to bolstering all prevention activities. The Youth Services program staff already have taken steps toward implementing strong and far-reaching prevention activities, and so, are primed to realize the objectives of the proposed project. Furthermore, our collaborators stand ready to participate fully in this endeavor.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

Challenge Maintaining manageable staffing workloads

Strategy WSLB’s Volunteer and Community Relations Coordinator will be intricately involved in this project, building connections through community outreach and presentations, and assisting the staff with recruitment of both youth and adult leaders and agency volunteers. By enhancing the agency’s volunteer recruitment techniques, WomenShelter will have a cadre of enthusiastic and committed SNAC volunteers to help provide outreach to the community, thereby coming along side of paid staff.

Challenge Community Organization: Mobilizing the community

WSLB will consult with an individual with expertise in community organization as well as utilizing the outstanding skills of our collaborators in mobilizing techniques and in training/teaching individuals on best practices for mobilizing the community.

What resources does your project need?

  • Network/relationship support
  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)
  • Education/training
  • Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)
  • Community outreach
  • Quality improvement research