connect / 2014
Please describe yourself.
Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)
In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.
We will build a 21st century civic process by empowering people to connect their story of self, to the story of us, to the story of now.
Does your project impact Los Angeles County?Yes (benefits a region of LA County)
Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?
- Central LA
- East LA
What is your idea/project in more detail?
#WeThePeople utilizes an innovative program that helps people form powerful and lasting civic movements that address the needs of their community through training, leadership development, and strong collaboration. The core of the project will focus on increasing civic engagement among the County’s most disenfranchised, disadvantaged, & discriminated communities to empower them to interact with, and change their civic, business, and cultural systems and improve the policies and programs that most impact their lives. Future leaders will go through a series of dynamic, interactive and life changing trainings and receive support and resources they can use to engage their communities and form #WeThePeople teams to build towards our #LA2050.
What will you do to implement this idea/project?
The #LA2050 Challenge Grant would allow members from our communities to work together to develop an overarching strategy and curriculum that can be used by #WeThePeople teams, made up of neighbors, friends, and other community members, as they tackle local issues and build towards #LA2050. Staff will help to cultivate leaders from these community members that will then recruit others who would form the #WeThePeople teams and go through a separate training program.
Through the trainings, teams will learn 4 key skills that will help them develop and carry out their community engagement strategies:
- Create Shared Story a. Tell his/her personal story, story of us and now
- Create Shared Structure a. Create shared commitment and relationship building b. Identify teams and roles
- Create Shared Strategy a. How to build a clear strategic plan and why it’s important to have one b. How to make group decisions around a strategy c. How to utilize resources to adopt a strategy
- Create Shared Measurable Actions a. Systems to facilitate action b. How to create shared, motivational action c. How to use action to develop and expand resources Additionally #WeThePeople teams will work to develop elements around each of the 4 key skills, including:
- Story- a. An aspirational message, or a common narrative for the team and/or campaign b. A message plan for their initial action
- Structure- a. Clear team roles, expectations and norms b. A clear structure for additional volunteer roles
- Strategy- a. A strategic outline through September 2015 b. A detailed strategic plan that includes goals, measurable outcomes, and activities
- Action- a. Simulated actions to exercise newly learned skills b. Develop a clear action plan for their first action As #WeThePeople teams return from trainings they will be prepared to implement their first action and motivate their communities to re-engage with their civic environment and demand that their voices be heard. Upon completion of the training sessions, community leaders will meet regularly with their teams and each other to ensure progress and learning is continuous. A system of team reviews and strategy evaluations will be implemented that allows community leaders and teams to constantly address issues that arise and get the assistance and resources they need to successfully accomplish their goals of building a more connected LA2050
How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to CONNECT today? In 2050?
The #LA2050 goals are the representation of the beliefs, needs, and desires of the people of Los Angeles. Who then is a better driver of the change we need to get us there? The LA2050 Grant will enable the empowerment of LA’s most disadvantaged and most impoverished communities, also communities that are younger and growing at a faster rate than any other. These are the communities that are the least represented, and least engaged in our civic environment.
According to the Public Policy Institute of California’s California Poverty Measure, 26.9% of Los Angeles County residents are living in poverty and studies show that kids that grow up in poverty are more likely to live in poverty as an adult. If we don’t break this cycle of inequality and poverty now, Los Angeles cannot and will not be the best place to play, connect, live, create, and learn in 2050. We must break the cycle of poverty that is gripping our future NOW by empowering and inspiring those who are most disenfranchised and apathetic.
Our communities face extreme challenges and need victories to continue the momentum for greater systemic changes. The implementation of #WeThePeople will result in a network of new leaders who already understand from personal experience the challenges poverty presents to communities. They will be equipped with skills and will have opportunities to connect with others facing similar struggles. By strengthening their own leadership and a network of these communities, we will cultivate change makers and build greater civic awareness in our communities.
#WeThePeople volunteers and the people they train will bring change to our city and to our systems that have been slow to respond to the changing face of LA. Our Leaders and the #WeThePeople teams will create a self-replicating system of empowerment that will cut through the enormous apathy and disillusionment and will instead inspire communities to get involved, identify and solve problems that matter to them, and create an engine that will power LA to 2050.
#WeThePeople will make Los Angeles the best place to connect by bringing people from different paths of life that are all facing similar challenges together and empowering them with the tools and skills they need to make change.
Whom will your project benefit?
#WeThePeople will benefit everyone in Los Angeles by empowering people who are struggling in the shadows to reengage with our civic and economic systems. Growing poverty and inequality is weakening our city and weakening our sense of pride and optimism to do big things and participate in our system. If we continue to ignore the more than 2.6 million people who are suffering by living in poverty in Los Angeles County and ignore the growing trend of further disenfranchisement, we cannot become the best place to play, connect, live, create, and learn by 2050.
The growing problems of economic and social injustice we are facing reach beyond income levels, geographic boundaries, or racial lines. For many, it is easy to ignore the growing poverty crisis, but it doesn’t make the crisis less real. It doesn’t stop eroding our civic systems and threatening our future. The best way to build the momentum needed to tackle this problem is by building connections across demographics, both social and economic. This will create opportunities for new ideas to flourish and it will force everyone to confront the issues that are putting all of our hopes of a prosperous future at risk.
We all do better when we all do better.
Our initial #WeThePeople teams will be based in the Latino LGBT community, the Hunger and Homeless community, immigrants, and in communities of people who are living with a disability. The #WeThePeople teams will utilize the Story of Self, Us, and Now, to build connections between, and inspire our friends, neighbors, and the community of Los Angeles to build a movement for our LA2050.
California Partnership has been empowering people from low-income communities for nearly a decade to engage with their civic environment. Our members are community based organizations representing people from low-income communities who seek progressive change and seek the strategic tools and partners to get it done. Through our collaborative, coalition based structure we have been able to build understanding across a diverse range of people from low-income communities and we are able to connect the diverse range of issues affecting them to a common struggle and create a movement.
#WeThePeople is about creating power among those who feel powerless. When people have the support, the information and the tools they need to engage they can turn an “I” into “We,” and “Me” into “Us.” This creates a more connected LA.
Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.
Currently our confirmed collaborators include The Wall Las Memorias, Hunger Action Los Angeles, Communities Actively Living Independent and Free (CALIF) and Southern California Resource Services for Independent Living (SCRS-IL.) We will also engage our Los Angeles Chapter, which includes nearly 40 members ranging from very small community groups to the ACLU-Southern California, to maximize the effectiveness of the program. The Wall-Las Memorias Project educates community members on the importance of HIV/AIDS, substance abuse prevention and community building in the LGBT community. 3 Critical Factors: 1) The Wall founder Richard Zaldivar and his staff are established leaders in the community of some of the most impoverished and hardest to reach populations in LA 2) The organization understands that connections between people to increase awareness and understanding are important catalysts for change. 3) The organization has experience in breaking down barriers between communities, and holding cultural events that help deepen our sense of community. We have worked together on a project to establish a community taskforce that meets with the Department of Health Services in Los Angeles County. The taskforce has trained community leaders to speak to government officials, to plan actions, and to speak and share stories with media and others.
Hunger Action Los Angeles (HALA) is a long-time member of our LA Chapter. HALA works to end hunger through advocacy and organizing and is confirmed for this project. 3 Critical Factors: 1)HALA has dedicated members who struggle with chronic homelessness and hunger. These dedicated core members have become leaders despite the great challenges they face. 2)HALA leaders have built trust among their fellow community members and they are highly aware of issues and policies that work and do not work. 3)HALA is an established presence at more than a dozen farmer’s markets where they operate a program called Market Match. This is an important access point to an expanded community and a great opportunity for a #WeThePeople team to work with. We have worked together numerous times over the course of years.
SCRS-IL and CALIF represent people who are living with a disability and are longtime members of California Partnership and they are confirmed for this project. 3 Critical Factors: 1)Highly motivated membership 2)Experienced with advocacy and leadership training 3)Often ignored and misunderstood community
How will your project impact the LA2050 “Connect” metrics?
- Rates of volunteerism
- Voting rates by race
- Adults getting sufficient social & emotional support
- Percentage of Angelenos that volunteer informally (Dream Metric)
- Government responsiveness to residents’ needs (Dream Metric)
Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.
Rates of Volunteerism and Percentage of Angelenos that volunteer informally- This program will be powered by volunteers who receive strategic support. Key leaders will recruit teams of volunteers who will receive leadership and organizing training. Those volunteers will be the power behind the program. The teams of volunteers will interact and communicate with their communities and others about their mission and the goals of LA2050, and with strategic support they will enable and recruit others who will volunteers to plan and implement activities; actions, press events, community forums, etc. This program is to create a movement to build a better Los Angeles through inspiring people to come together to make a difference. As people breakthrough the apathy that has brought volunteerism and voting levels to an all-time low their enthusiasm and optimism will spread.
Voting Rates by Race-This program is going to be focused in communities that are least represented, most discriminated against, and most disenfranchised. Most of these communities are communities of color. Part of the program design is to register voters at events, get pledges of people to vote, and to establish a network of accountability to the community to go out and vote.
Adults getting sufficient social and emotional support- This program will create teams of people who face similar struggles and would give them the tools build a broader base of leaders and volunteers whose commitment to a campaign or cause is made or renewed. Leaders and their teams become support systems unto themselves, this connection will inspire others while building a strong foundation for a people’s movement. This metric would also be affected as a by-product of the empowerment of people in the community with the skills to create support structures, to demand access to services, and the skills to connect with each other.
Government Responsiveness to Residents’ needs- This program will ensure that government is responsive to the needs of residents. By empowering people with the tools and skills to engage with our civic environment they will make their voices and needs heard through activities, meetings with decision makers and increasing awareness of the issues among the general public through traditional and social media. These strategies have been used by California Partnership over the years and have helped to increase the level of our government’s accountability at the state level.
Please explain how you will evaluate your project.
Success to us is the creation of a self-sustaining movement that is “by the people, for the people.” We will measure our success by evaluating the following. 1—Number of Volunteer Leaders Recruited and Trained- the ability of our teams and our leaders to connect with their community and connect them to building a better LA can be estimated by the number of volunteers they are able to recruit and the percentage they are able to train. 2 – Measuring Increased Capacity – by conducting a pre and post survey for training participants, we will be able to measure a person’s understanding of the curriculum used. We will also evaluate capacity growth by examining the areas in which a leader grows more confident (e.g., networking with other leaders and organizations, speaking at events, cultivating others to become leaders, etc.). 3— Volunteer led Activities and Retention- ultimately the empowerment of individuals in service to the community is our ultimate goal, we can measure the effectiveness of the #WeThePeople teams by how long volunteers are committed to their cause/campaign and how often they participate.
In addition to these metrics, each team will come up with their own metrics with the support and guidance of staff. These metrics will help teams celebrate progress and accomplishments while identifying areas where greater support is needed. These metrics will be defined by the teams during their training and initial planning sessions.
What two lessons have informed your solution or project?
Two lessons: 1) Importance of a strong and trusting collaboration that leverages resources 2) Creating a movement with a core consisting of the people most impacted by cultivating leadership and connecting them each other and the movement. We have worked for nearly ten years building collaborative groups that work in LA and across the state to empower people to take action and protect and expand the safety net services they rely on. We have learned that collaboration and connection between diverse groups of people is important in building a strong and sustainable movement. We also bring together large and small organizations to maximize the impact of both, the large orgs bring resources and experience, and the small bring direct connections to the issues, the community, and the people most directly affected by changes in policy and systems.
California Partnership’s relationship to the Center for Community Change which field tested this people powered program after its development by Professor Marshall Ganz and the New Organizing Institute allows us access to experience, case studies, and proven models. We are currently planning a small pilot of the #WeThePeople program in the Bay Area and in Los Angeles for late summer and early fall which will allow us to refine the model for Los Angeles and deploy it during the 12 months of the LA2050 grant.
In previous years we, and many other organizations have engaged in traditional civic engagement projects that focus on creating awareness through press events, making phone calls, and knocking on doors in the weeks leading up to elections. However, this alone is not enough to increase turnout and civic engagement. Several factors have caused recent lower turn rates among our communities. People can become more apathetic and disengaged from civic life with continued disillusionment and distrust in our system. We know it is time to invest more resources in innovative and holistic approaches, using strategies where information is delivered by trusted messengers, other members from the same communities.
Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.
This program is designed to have 12 month cycles. We have no doubt that this is an achievable goal. We are already planning the implementation of a shortened pilot program, and we will be guided by the experience of our founding organization and will tailor a curriculum for LA based-communities to ensure a smooth implementation.
Agreements with key partners previously mentioned have been made and the initial planning and strategy will occur in the first two months of this program. During this initial phase we will also identify and recruit our first team members.
In month three we will hold our initial training program that lays the foundation for their success and allows the teams to shape their initial action plans. After these trainings we will identify and plan trainings to ensure that the teams and leaders have the capacity, skillset, and tools to execute their plans. Training and evaluation will continue to occur throughout the year, and teams will receive strategic resources as they are needed.
The #WeThePeople teams will begin recruiting volunteers in month three and they will hold their first action in the 4th month. Actions and engagement with community will continue on different scales throughout the year, and major events or engagements will be timed with significant cultural and civic events.
Follow up trainings and meetings will continue from months 5 through 12. Recruitment and actions will occur throughout the program after the initial training is complete in month three. After the first 12 month cycle, key leaders, team members, and volunteers would be re-engaged to begin a new cycle. They would build on their successes, learn from their setbacks, and take on new roles as their movement grows. This is how we would contribute towards building our LA2050.
Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?
The first major barrier is internal capacity of our organization and of our key allies. While much of the program is on the shoulders of the volunteer teams, the oversight, guidance, and evaluation, will be shouldered by the staff of our organization(s.) We have worked to mitigate this by engaging organizations that have worked most closely with CAP and are the most eager to embark on this program. This is a base that wants to increase their capacity or have existing capacity strengthened. This will also be mitigated by the expansion of internal capacity through hiring or collectively dedicating resources to oversee the program.
A second major barrier comes from working with some of the most disenfranchised and disadvantaged communities. Generations of mistrust and discrimination have made our communities wary and distrustful of government, and the lack of responsiveness has bred deep seated apathy. We will mitigate this by working with organizations and community members who are established and trusted in their communities. Our organizations have made real changes and had real success. This will be further mitigated by the empowerment of volunteers who have had positive experiences with government and come from the community.
What resources does your project need?
- Money (financial capital)
- Publicity/awareness (social capital)
- Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)
- Quality improvement research