Nonprofits and Democracy by tjl20588


									Volume 10, Issue 2, Winter 2006-2007

Nonprofits and Democracy
Frances Kunreuther, Director, Building Movement Project                                  What does this mean for nonprofit
                                                                                         organizations? Those running
The ways we talk about nonprofit        most vibrant democracies in the                  nonprofits know how often we
organizations has shifted subtly in     world. The evidence for this remains             have to adjust the explanations of
the last several years. The nonprofit   high, but recent events have raised              our work to address passing fads or
sector is discussed as an               questions about what it means to                 funders’ new interest areas. Many will
important cornerstone                     live in a democratic country. For              view an emphasis on organizations
of civil society, a site                       example, less than half of                as sites of civic engagement and
for civic engagement,                              eligible voters participated          democratic practice as one more
a place to build                                      in the 2000 presidential           demand to repackage organizations.
social capital, and                                          election, and the           However, for those who believe
a measure of a                                               results of the              that nonprofits can really make a
democratic society.                                          election itself were        difference by enhancing democratic
The emphasis on                                             highly controversial.
the blurring of the                                       Newly enacted and                                  (Continued on next page)
boundaries between
nonprofits and government                             proposed
                                                                    Inside This Issue:
or business is now giving way to a      federal legislation
renewed argument about the unique       and regulations not         Lake County Women’s Initiative ................................ 4
contributions nonprofit groups make     only raise questions        La Manzana Community Resources ......................... 6
to society overall. There are several   about civil liberties,      Extreme Park Makeover in Orange County ............... 8
explanations for why this turn is       but they also
                                                                    The Friends of Myra Linn Park ................................ 10
taking place. This article focuses on   have the potential
                                                                    The Careless Society by John McKnight ................. 11
one: the need for revitalization of     to profoundly
democracy in the United States.         affect charitable           Social Strength: People Create Change.................. 12
                                        organizations,              CFRA Update .......................................................... 13
Over the years, we in the U.S. have     including operating         Upcoming Strategies Events ................................... 15
assumed that we have one of the         nonprofits.
(Continued from previous page)             What struck Tocqueville was how             believe that they have the right and
                                           people acted together, whether it           ability to have an impact on the issues
practice in the U.S., thinking about
                                           was the temperance movement, a              that affect their lives.
what it means to change how we
                                           business club, or a religious group.
operate so that we build democracy                                                     Below are some ways nonprofits
                                           America had a vibrant democracy
from the ground up is not simply                                                       can think about building democratic
                                           because of its many associations
an opportunity but a necessity.                                                        practice through engagement,
                                           that covered all aspects of personal
It also gives those of us working                                                      education, action, and assessment.
                                           and political life, and gave people
in the sector a vital role, and has                                                    These are not linear activities; they
                                           a collective voice both within and
the potential to re-energize our                                                       can take place simultaneously or in
                                           outside of government. Tocqueville
work during a time when many                                                           a different order. And they are not
                                           offers a view of the nonprofit sector
organizations are struggling to                                                        proscriptive. Like good democratic
                                           that gives it meaning beyond what it
survive.                                                                               practice, they should be used for
                                                               produces (services
                                                               given, groups           discussion, debate, and dissent.
An Old/New Idea
Alexis de Tocqueville                                          organized, issues       Engagement
is often cited as                                             advocated for):          Democracy is about engagement
the person                                                   building the collective   in public life whether it is political,
who                                                          voice of our              economic, and/or social. We know
                                                             constituents, staff,      how easy it is to feel removed from
                                                              and volunteers.          the larger arena of politics or social
                                                              Democratic               policy whether we are constituents,
                                                              Practice and             staff, or volunteers; without
                                                               Nonprofit               participation we are simply subject to
                                                               Organizations           the decisions made by others.
                                                                An organization’s      Engagement is more than operating
                                                                capacity to            according to the mission and values
                                                                build democratic       of the organization. It is finding out
                                           practice relies on engagement,              the meaning of the work to those
             the important role of the
                                           education, action, and assessment. As       working in the organization and
future nonprofit sector in building
                                           Tocqueville viewed it, democracy was        those the organization serves, and
a new type of democracy. This
                                           alive in voluntary associations because     then finding ways to engage based on
French aristocrat came to the U.S. in
                                           people had a place they could come          that meaning. This capacity is built
the 1830s to study prisons. On his
                                           together to express their common            by listening to what matters to those
return to France, Tocqueville wrote
                                           beliefs and values. Nonprofits can          involved with the organization. This
a book not on prisons, but rather
                                           help build the capacity of individuals      process of listening and learning,
on Democracy in America. In it he
                                           to express their beliefs and values         beyond consumer satisfaction
described the vibrant associational
                                           in the political and social sphere,         surveys, is the basis of engagement.
life in the United States. Tocqueville
                                           and they can themselves be sites
was especially taken by what he                                                        Engagement is not only something
                                           of democracy by building the
found all across the country: ordinary                                                 we do with our constituents. In fact,
                                           organization’s capacity to raise a
citizens from all social and economic                                                  it is essential that we ask these same
                                           collective voice that expresses beliefs
groups coming together with a shared                                                   questions of the staff, board, and
                                           and values. Like democracy itself, the
mutual interest. Through voluntary                                                     volunteers. Do we know what moves
                                           practice can be messy, is not always
associations, people engaged with                                                      them about the work? Are there
                                           effective and efficient, and doesn’t
each other in the public sphere where                                                  things that they would fight for? Are
                                           always work. Yet it gives people the
they could promote an issue or a                                                       there other issues in their lives that
                                           chance to express themselves and to
point of view.

have an impact on the work they do?       Education, though, is not only            democracy he wrote about with such
Going through the process of finding      about voting. In Detroit, several         passion.
out what matters to them will help        organizations have started staff study
those working in the organization         groups to inform themselves about         Those working in nonprofits are
understand each other. It will also lay   the neighborhoods in which they           no strangers to taking action. They
the groundwork and facilitate staff       work, the issues facing the people        know how to bring people together,
and volunteers going through the          they serve, and the ways that change      provide services, and support people
same process with the constituents        is made in a democracy. People            in need. Organizations can work to
they serve.                               talk not only about the community         help constituents act on their own
                                          but also about themselves – their         behalf and in their own interest.
Engagement is not a one-shot deal;        own beliefs and values – and learn        Many groups already do this as a
it is an ongoing process in our           through reading and discussing what       matter of course. But individual
organizations. It means listening to      others say on these topics. These         action is not enough. Nonprofits
others we work with and those we                                                    can assist constituents to act on their
work for to understand and make                                                     own behalf and to act as a collective.
sense of their interests, issues, and                                               The power of the collective voice
concerns. It also means finding the                                                       is energizing, aggravating, and
common themes that run throughout                                                            inspiring. We already know
the organization and how they fit                                                            the strength that comes
with its mission and values.                                                                 from knowing you are not
                                                                                         alone. Applying that power to
Education                                                                           constituents not only reduces their
Education and engagement often                                                        isolation but also increases their
work hand in hand. Engaging people                                                      ability to learn how to participate
can lead to action if people know                                                       in public life.
there is something they are able to do.
The range of educational activities                                                    Collective action can mean holding
your organization can offer is endless.                                              a meeting, writing letters, or making
For example, all nonprofits can easily    organizations                             phone calls. Organizing groups
teach those who are eligible and          began by engaging and educating           have long used these strategies and
involved in the organization how to       staff and then plan to do the same        can be a good resource to others.
register to vote. Voting is not simple,   with those living in the communities      For example, some community
especially for those who have never       they serve. Ultimately they are           development corporations (CDCs) in
gone to the polls. Education about        looking to engage and educate             Boston have added an organizer to
voting, such as where to go and           constituents to take part in shaping      their staff to address their concern
how to get there, what will happen,       their own lives.                          that they have become focused on
and how a ballot looks and how to                                                   the bricks and mortar of building
fill it out are all as important as the   Action                                    affordable housing rather than
registration process. Groups can          In a democracy we have rights, but        building the power and voice of
offer forums and discussions to find      we also have responsibilities. Our        those living in the neighborhood.
out information about candidates,         responsibilities include taking action,   The organizer involves constituents
referendums, ballot initiatives, and      especially when we find our voices        to speak on their own behalf.
other items. Candidates can be asked      are not heard in public life. Action      Constituents in neighborhoods can
their views on the issues that engage     was key to Tocqueville’s observations;    then add their voice in support of
those you work with and forums can        it made public the voices of people       the CDC’s work, and they also have a
be held where different views are         who ordinarily would not be               voice in setting the priorities for the
expressed and debated.                    heard and thus created the vibrant
                                                                                                    (Continued on page 14)

Lake County Women’s Initiative
Barbara Alderson, MSW                                        Health Leadership program of the                           survivors; some had been clients of
Social change occurs as people                               Center for Collaborative Planning,                         Child Protective Services.
find their voice, learn advocacy and                         Public Health Institute. Lake FRC
                                                             applied for and received funding from                      The Women’s Initiative involved
leadership skills, and take action.                                                                                     women in four peer learning groups
FRCs can be part of that change by                           Women’s Foundation of California
                                                             Community Action Fund and from                             that met monthly, ongoing peer
offering programs that support those                                                                                    telephone communication, and
skills and provide opportunities to                          the National Soroptimist Club to
                                                             establish a comparable local program.                      quarterly conferences of all groups.
try them out. Lake Family Resource                                                                                      The quarterly conferences provided
Center (FRC) gave local women that                           “Every community has people                                core skills training in advocacy,
opportunity through the Lake County                          poised to take on leadership, and                          presentation, and communication.
Women’s Initiative.                                          if we take the opportunity to train                        The women learned how to access

         Lake County Women’s Initiative participants.

Women Help Women                                             them, they will become leaders,” Rae                       their representatives in local and
The Lake County Women’s Initiative                           said. Lake FRC encouraged women                            state government, how to make
was a year-long program designed to                          participating in their programs to fill                    appointments with elected officials,
help local women grow into leaders.                          out the application for the Women’s                        how to do press releases, and how to
Rae Eby-Carl, Deputy Director,                               Initiative. “Some of the staff are                         work together to plan projects.
Lake FRC, said, “Three of us had                             boot-strappers and feel very strong
the opportunity to be involved in                            affinities for our communities that                        Each of the four learning groups
women’s leadership programs in                               have more struggles,” Rae said. Staff                      decided on a project for the year.
which we learned to affect policy                            and mentors had changed their lives,                       They met monthly or more often
and we wanted to do that here at the                         “and if we can do it, they can do it.”                     with their mentors. The mentors,
grassroots level.” She and two others                        Many of the participants came from                         recruited from the FRC, Soroptimist,
had attended the Women’s Policy                              families of generational poverty;                          and United Way, facilitated the
Institute of the Women’s Foundation                          some had recovered from substance                          decision making process for each
of California and the Women’s                                abuse; some were domestic violence                         project and supported the group

              Region 1                                                                                                  George Siler, Executive Director      Elizabeth
              Youth for Change, Paradise Ridge Family Resource Center                                                   Gowan, Regional Director       Yvonne Nenadal,
              6249 Skyway Paradise, CA 95969 Phone: (530) 872-3896                                                      Project Coordinator     Phyllis Avilla, Project
                                                                                                                        Specialist     Candace Carroll, Project Specialist    Gloria
              Fax: (530) 872-4093                                                     Garland, Project Specialist     Wendy Martinez, Project
              Counties Served: Alameda, Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, Del Norte, El Dorado,   Specialist     Richard Pero, Project Specialist    Ruth
              Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Marin, Mendocino, Modoc, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento,         Alderson, Project Analyst     Orrin Banta, Administrative
              San Joaquin, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne, Yolo, Yuba      Assistant     Jody Hall-Winget, Administrative Assistant

throughout the year. The group            set our mind to something, we can do       at the state capitol in Sacramento.
projects grew out of the women’s          it.”                                       The women researched the issues
areas of interest and included                                                       under consideration by the legislature,
parenting programs, transitional          The women honored the mutual               developed their positions, contacted
housing for people who were               support they experienced through           staffers to make appointments, and
homeless or victims of domestic           group discussion of how each leader        presented their ideas to the legislators.
violence, support of local candidates,    inspires another leader, and then
and support of cancer research            created a quilt and accompanying           “If you could have seen their faces
fundraising.                              tribute book of stories. Each              on the Senate Floor,” Rae said. “They
                                          woman contributed a quilt square           were glowing, and everyone wanted
One group’s project focused on the        and a story about the woman who            to sit at the desks. Three different
importance of having a consistent         inspired them and their square.            women said, ‘I could be here. If I
parenting program throughout the          Each participant received a copy of        wanted to, I could be here.’” The visit
county. The group worked                                                                        and hearing the stories of
to develop and expand the                                                                       women legislators inspired
use of Nurturing Parenting,                                                                     Lori. She decided that
a program that teaches and                                                                      “Some day I’m going to
supports parenting skills. Rae                                                                  run for something; not sure
said their “overarching concern                                                                 what. Local politics interests
was that we have countywide                                                                     me. This is where I live.”
programs that were reflective
of the same philosophy. Now                                                                      The fourth quarter
we have Nurturing Parenting                                                                      conference was graduation
throughout the county.” One                                                                      from the program. Families
of the women from the group                                                                      and children attended with
became part of the team                                                                          obvious pride. The graduates
of trainers and now works                                                                        are role models for other
with parents in the program.                                                                     women and for their
Another is planning to attend                                                                    children. “What one woman
a national training. The group                                                                   can do, another woman
continues to meet and work
                                    Lake County Women’s Initiative participants try out          can do. We had a number
                                    Board of Supervisors seats.
on countywide planning for                                                                       enroll in college because
parenting programs.                                                                              they realized they needed
                                          the tribute book. Rae noted, “The
                                                                                      more skills,” Rae said. “Some had old
                                          quilt will be displayed at community
One of the participants, Lori                                                         dreams; some had new dreams; all of
                                          events to foster interest in Lake
Degurse, an FRC family advocate                                                       their horizons were broadened.”
                                          County Women’s Initiative and to
for victims of domestic violence and
                                          commemorate the wonderful women The graduates of the program will
sexual assault, learned about her own
                                          who were part of the initial class and help others learn the skills they need
capabilities through her involvement
                                          the women who inspired them.” The to impact the decisions that affect
with her group’s project, Relay for
                                          quilt was also displayed at a regional      their lives. As Lori said, “We need to
Life, a fundraiser for cancer research.
                                          quilt show in the fall.                     encourage women to find their voice.
As co-chair of the entertainment
committee, she helped raise over                                                      We could change the world if we
                                          Women Make a Difference
$3,000. “My teammates said it                                                         just get together.” That change has
                                          The program affected the women, the
was because of me; I think it was                                                     begun in Lake County through the
                                          FRC, and the larger community. One
because of them. I felt it was a huge                                                 development of leadership skills and
                                          of the Women’s Initiative activities
accomplishment. I learned that if we was a day of meeting with legislators            confidence.

La Manzana Community Resources
Judi Sherman, MA, Ed.                                           not root causes of our constituents’                    incentives, and addresses legal issues
La Manzana Community Resources                                  conditions,” Albert explained.                          that affect an individual’s ability to
(LMCR) in Watsonville is committed                                                                                      obtain or maintain income. LMCR
                                                                LMCR, a program of Community                            first addresses immediate service
to becoming an agent of change in                               Bridges in Santa Cruz County, is well
its community and to pursuing an                                                                                        concerns such as food, translation,
                                                                positioned to explore root causes                       and shelter. Then, individuals are
understanding of the root causes of                             and meet the challenge for action by
the conditions constituents face, such                                                                                  eligible for free legal advice if they
                                                                building on the projects, programs                      participate in financial literacy
as poverty and racial and cultural                              and extensive partnerships already
inequities.                                                                                                             education through the Credit Union.
                                                                in place. LMCR is a comprehensive
                                                                            bilingual/bicultural family                 The partners felt frustrated that,
                                                                            resource center whose                       although each was doing its part
                                                                            mission is “Empowering                      to meet the goals of the project,
                                                                            People, Building                            their efforts focused on change for
                                                                            Community.” LMCR’s                          individuals without addressing the
                                                                            Economic Justice Project                    systemic issues that negatively impact
                                                                            (EJP), a partnership with                   the well-being of those individuals.
                                                                            the Santa Cruz Community                    This led the Root Cause Committee
                                                                            Credit Union and The                        to develop a goal “to explore the
                                                                            Watsonville Law Center,                     root causes of economic injustice
                                                                            is where Albert began to                    and poverty and make specific
                                                                            explore integrating a social                recommendations to increase the
                                                                            change approach to their                    effectiveness of the EJP.”
                                                                            work by establishing the
In May of 200, Albert Maldonado,                                                                                       The committee began with a
                                                                Root Cause Committee. At LMCR,
Project Director, attended a                                                                                            broad conversation to develop an
                                                                change efforts are integrated into
conference sponsored by Springfield                                                                                     understanding of the conditions in
                                                                service provision and the needs
College to build a movement to                                                                                          the community and identify areas
                                                                of constituents drive the agency’s
end poverty. Albert participated                                                                                        where they needed more information.
in a workshop presented by Linda                                                                                        For example, they raised questions
Campbell of the Building Movement                               LMCR’s Drop-In Center is the                            about how to get community
Project to inspire activism in the                              gateway to the EJP. Constituents                        involvement and whether a solution
nonprofit community, and returned                               participate who are victims of                          that is applicable to an individual can
to LMCR motivated to engage the                                 consumer fraud or predatory lending                     be effective for an entire community.
staff and community in action for                               and, as a result, have outstanding legal                They explored the implications of
social change. “I was moved to ask                              issues. Funded by the S.H. Cowell                       the fact that many family members
questions and share the exercises                               Foundation, this project provides                       in Watsonville are undocumented
with staff who agreed that, all too                             social service intervention, teaches                    and fearful of being in the public
often, we are dealing with symptoms,                            financial literacy, provides savings                    eye. They shared their awareness

           Region 2
           Interface Children Family Services                                                                           Staff
                                                                                                                        Erik Sternad, Executive Director    Annette Marcus,
           1305 Del Norte Rd., Ste. 130 Camarillo, CA 93010                                                             Regional Director     Magdalena Benitez, Project
           Phone: (805) 485-6114 Fax: (805) 983-0789                                  Specialist    Geoffrey Biggs, Project Specialist  Daphne
                                                                                                                        Quick-Abdullah, Project Specialist    Judi Sher4man, TA
           Counties Served: Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Monterey, Mono, San Benito, San        Specialist    Pattie Sweeney, Event Coordinator     Sarah
           Francisco, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Stanislaus, Tulare, Ventura   Paige, Office Manager

of Watsonville as part of a global       believe that by providing only            had to turn it down because he
community, given that employers          services, they were perpetuating          couldn’t read and write. Now, after
and the labor force are transnational,   poverty through a system of               receiving the GED, he has the new
and recognized that regional issues      dependency, rather than a pathway         job and has demonstrated enormous
in Mexico and Central America            to self-sufficiency. Through funding      growth and success. As a role model,
affect individuals’ experience and       from First  Santa Cruz County,           he can help recruit others into the
motivation to be in the US.              the Drop-In Center staff received         program.
                                         training in adult literacy and school
The committee identified many            readiness to give parents suggestions     Saul Ramos, Assistant Director,
barriers to engaging constituents in     about helping prepare their children      works with agency partners to help
action including immigration status,     to succeed in school. “Staff at LMCR      families impact local education. With
literacy in English and Spanish,                                                         support from the University of
cultural differences, and myths.                                                         California Santa Cruz (UCSC),
One myth they explored is the                                                            Saul is beginning a grassroots
“land of opportunity myth,”                                                              approach to address families’
which says if you work hard,                                                             issues with the schools by going
you’ll succeed and get rich.                                                             to their homes to ask, “What
In their conversation, the                                                               do you want from the local
committee acknowledged that,                                                             schools for your children?” The
for some, working hard does                                                              team relies on LMCR’s roots
lead to wealth, but that for                                                             in the community to approach
most, it’s not true. It became                                                           families, and the strength of
clear to committee members                                                               their partnership with the
that they might need multiple                                                            school district to present and
definitions of “success” for                                                             explore the issues with them.
individuals and the community,
and they agreed to continue to                                                           Along with its other funding,
research and be open minded about        are agents of change,” said Albert.             LMCR has a small grant from
standards for success.                   “They see this as generational work       PILA to use the Farmers’ Market as
                                         to help parents participate in building   a venue to encourage social action.
The root cause discussion continues      a future for their children.”             Community donations of about ten
to guide EJP. As people graduate                                                   thousand dollars support Albert’s
from EJP, the vision is that they        Building parents’ skills and              coordination efforts.
will reach out to other community        confidence is one way to help them
members to interest them in              participate in community activities.      LMCR’s approach is to create
economic justice activities and to       On October 9, 200, twenty                opportunities for action through
raise awareness about the problems       students from Primaria, LMCR’s            service provision, empowering
of predatory lending and consumer        literacy program in partnership with      individuals, building on partnership
fraud. “LMCR staff can’t help people     Adult Education and the Mexican           opportunities, and demonstrating
by simply providing services; we need    Consulate, received a GED certified       to funders that they are agents of
to help them help themselves,” Albert    by the Mexican Consulate. Over            change. With a parent advisory board
said.                                    200 community members attended            to shape center activities, they use all
                                         to support the graduates who first        their resources to integrate services
LMCR staff see their role as breaking    came to LMCR eight years ago and          with social change.
the cycle of poverty and are trained     couldn’t sign their names. Prior to the
to engage families in conversation                                                 For more information about LMCR,
                                         class, one student was offered a job
about steps to take to improve the                                                 visit
                                         promotion – to drive a truck in the
lives of their children. The staff                                                 lamanzana.html.
                                         fields rather than picking fruit – but

Extreme Park Makeover in the City of Orange
Cynthia Drury                                               that would compel Commissioners               noting that clean sand had been
Mercedes Ruelas is no stranger to                           to address their concerns, which              added to the playground, police
volunteerism. As a volunteer with                           included the lack of restrooms,               patrols had increased, and the lighting
The Friendly Center for over ten                            drinking fountains, and lighting              fixtures and sprinklers had been
years, she has motivated and inspired                       maintenance. The team gathered                repaired. Building on that success,
the involvement of                                                                                                  several months later, the
other women and                                                                                                     CAC again addressed the
girls, involving herself                                                                                            Park Planning Commission
with everything from                                                                                                and requested restroom
clothing distribution                                                                                               facilities and the need for a
to the Mobile Pantry.                                                                                               new playground structure.
Three years ago, while                                                                                              The CAC’s requests again
serving as president of                                                                                             were heard and a portable
The Friendly Center’s                                                                                               restroom was placed
Community Action                                                                                                    at the park; however,
Committee (CAC), she                                                                                                the playground was not
set her sights on her                                                                                               considered at that time.
neighborhood park                                                                                                  It became evident that the
and discovered how                                                                                                 City’s Park Master Plan
the power of her own                                                                                               would take years to fully
voice, and the voices                                                                                              address the playground need
of other concerned                                                                                                 at Killefer Park. Mercedes
                          Build Day at Killefer Park
parents, could make a                                                                                              and the CAC took the
real difference in the                     more than 200 signatures through a                                      lead again by organizing
community.                                 door-to-door effort that petitioned                            fundraising activities for a new
In 2003, The Friendly Center’s                              for park improvements. Mercedes               playground, including a food booth at
parents and CAC members stumbled                            brought thirty community members              The City of Orange’s Annual 3rd of
upon their passion for community                            to a City of Orange Park Planning             July Celebration and a very successful
activism when they noticed that                             Commission meeting. The team                  pancake breakfast. The fundraisers
the City of Orange’s Killefer Park,                         succinctly presented their case and           also brought members of the
where The Friendly Center is located,                       their signed petitions before the Park        community together to work toward
needed some drastic improvements.                           Commission.                                   the goal of the new playground.
Mercedes encouraged fellow CAC                              The Park Planning Commission                  KaBOOM!, a nonprofit organization
members Teresa Aguilar, Rosa                                responded to the CAC’s presentation.          that builds playgrounds in low-
Arrendondo, and Laura Munoz to                              By the next Commission meeting,               income neighborhoods, heard of
create a presentation for the City of                       Mercedes and her team expressed               The Friendly Center and the need
Orange’s Park Planning Commission                           appreciation for the quick progress,          for a new play structure at Killefer

              Region 3
              Children’s Bureau
              50 S. Anaheim Blvd., Ste. 241 Anaheim, CA 92805 Phone: (714) 517-1900 Fax: (714) 517-1911   Anthony Guillean, Regional Director    Leda
              3910 Oakwood Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90004 Phone: (323) 644-3900 Fax: (323) 661-6709           Albright, Training Specialist  Dora Evans,
                                                               Training Specialist    Samantha Florey, Training
                                                                                                          Specialist     Norma De Leon, Program Assistant    Anvi
              Counties Served: Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego        Dinh, Program Assistant

Park. They linked AMC Mortgage            as important as the product itself.        the privilege of working closely with
Services, the City of Orange, The         Mercedes and the CAC have built            the CAC. Members of this group
Friendly Center, and the community        on their success of community              are actively involved in the day-to-
together to make the dream of a new       involvement. The CAC has written           day life at The Friendly Center. They
playground come true. In December         several successful grants, one of          assist in multiple programs including
200, all of the partners, CAC            which provides a series of classes         preparing daily food donations
members, community members, and           on child abuse prevention. Another         for distribution, assisting with the
children met at The Friendly Center       grant funded an afternoon craft            Senior Citizen hot meal program,
to begin the process with a Design        class designed to bring mothers            and outreach for the Center. In
Day. The day began with children          and daughters together to share a          many ways they are our ambassadors
breaking into small groups, drawing       common interest and strengthen             in the community, reaching out
their dream playground                                                                           to families in need of
and presenting each                                                                              our many programs and
dream to the larger group.                                                                       services. Members of the
Following the children’s                                                                         CAC are very comfortable
presentations, the adults                                                                        sharing their ideas for new
discussed and voted                                                                              programs at the Center. For
on each element of the                                                                           example, they brought their
playground structure.                                                                            concerns over childhood
                                                                                                 obesity to my attention.
In February 200, more                                                                           As a result, the Center
than 200 volunteers from                                                                         now has a twelve-week
nonprofits, businesses,                                                                          childhood nutrition class
schools, and the local                                                                           teaching the parents the
neighborhood came                                                                                benefits of healthy eating
together to build a                                                                              and regular exercise. It is
beautiful new 2,00-                                                                             exciting to see the personal
square-foot, state-of-the-     Victoria Rodriguez, Ana Marroquin, Mercedes Ruelas (back,         growth and empowerment
art playground. The final      l-r), Laura Munoz, Maria Rangel, and Loi Truong (front, l-r)      in each of the members, as
design, based on children’s prepare to serve lunch on Build Day.                                 they continue to reach new
input on Design Day,                                                                             levels of involvement in
includes brightly colored slides, a         their bond. Even now, Mercedes
                                                                                     their community.”
rock climbing wall, picnic benches,         and the CAC look forward to
and planters. “The Friendly Center          more opportunities to strengthen         KaBOOM! is a national non-
is excited to partner with AMC              the community and improve the            profit organization that envisions a
Mortgage Services, KaBOOM! and              neighborhood.                            world in which all children have a
the City of Orange to make a dream                                                   great place to play within walking
                                            The Friendly Center recognized
come true for our children. The new                                                  distance of their homes. For more
                                            Mercedes as Volunteer of the Year in
playground shows what it looks like                                                  information, visit
                                            March 200 at their annual Volunteer
when the community works together                                                    AMC Mortgage has a strong culture
                                            Recognition Dinner. She also received
with a common goal,” said Cathy                                                      of giving back to the community
                                            the Families and Communities
Seelig, Executive Director, The                                                      and helping people achieve their
                                            Together Mobilizing the Community
Friendly Center, on Build Day.                                                       dreams. For more information,
                                            Award at the May 200 Annual
                                                                                     visit www.amcmortgageservices.
Mercedes, the CAC, and The Friendly Conference.                                      com. For more information
Center have found the process                                                        about The Friendly Center, visit
                                            Cynthia Drury, Program Director,
of building the playground was                                             
                                            The Friendly Center, said, “I have

Building Bridges
The Friends of Myra Linn Park
Leda Albright                                  created the Safe Parks Committee,        then route calls to the appropriate
In the growing community of                    a unique collaboration that included     department and follow up, generally
Riverside, parks are an essential part         the Police Department, the Parks         by phone, to ensure that action has
of the community fabric and quality            and Recreation Department, and the       been taken.
of life. One of the neighborhood               Community Services Department.
                                               The Safe Parks Committee involves        One of the most visible signs that
parks where families receive services                                                   the information line is working is the
from the Arlanza Family Resource               community stakeholders in fostering
                                               safe parks for children and families.    speed at which gang-related graffiti is
Center is Myra Linn Park. Five                                                          removed from the park. The graffiti
years ago, Myra Linn Park families             The Friends of Myra Linn, a group
                                               of concerned neighborhood parents        removal team tries to respond on
                                                                      who were          the day the call is received, and never
                                                                      determined to     more than twenty-four hours later.
                                                                      improve Myra      The City’s daily records show that not
                                                                      Linn Park, was    only does the park look much better,
                                                                      asked to attend   but due to the rapid response of
                                                                      the meetings.     the City, vandalism has significantly
                                                                      The group’s       decreased as well.
                                                                      President,        Jim Ellis, City Recreation Supervisor
                                                                      Marisol Ruiz,     and FRC Supervisor, believes that it
                                                                      stepped           is important for the community to
                                                                      forward to help   feel heard and to become part of the
                                                                      lead the fight    solution. He says, “We have direct
                                                                      to regain the     relationships with The Friends of
                                                                      park for the      Myra Linn. It is not our purpose to
                                                                      community         do everything out there, but to work
                                                                      and to help       with the group to help them to assist
                                                                      create an         us.”
                                                                      action plan for
                                                                      improvement.      The FRC also supports Myra Linn
Friends of Myra Linn with Riverside city council members.
                                                                                        by hosting various events in the
                                                             One of                     park such as Police National Night
faced rampant problems in their        the biggest accomplishments of                   Out, Movies in the Park, a mobile
community, including homicides,        The Friends of Myra Linn was to                  recreation van, and various fairs. The
alcohol and drug use, graffiti, gang   become the point of contact when                 community takes tremendous pride in
activity, and illicit activities in the park
                                       the community has a complaint.                   the change in their park. The special
restrooms.                             Before the Safe Parks program                    activities not only offer neighborhood
When complaints began to rise about was developed, complaint calls                      resources to promote strong families,
Myra Linn Park, the City of Riverside, went to the Parks and Recreation                 but the park’s previously broken spirit
which sponsors the Arlanza Youth       Department. Now the calls go                     has been healed. The Friends of Myra
and Family Resource Center, looked     directly to the FRC by way of a                  Linn have learned that a community
to the neighborhood to help provide    city-sponsored 3-1-1 information                 and its government can work together
solutions to the problem. The City     and referral phone line. FRC staff               for the good of all.

Recommended Reading
The Careless Society: Community and Its Counterfeits by John McKnight
Candace Carroll                          status of the community and               engaged in community development
In The Careless Society: Community       learned that the primary reasons for      and social change, and those
and Its Counterfeits, author John        hospitalization at two local hospitals    thinking about becoming engaged
McKnight discusses the negative          were such things as automobile            in these areas. The book offers ideas
impacts of society’s emphasis and        accidents, interpersonal attacks, and     about policy changes, community
reliance on service provision by         non-auto accidents. Upon further          organizing, and regenerating
experts. He reviews “the professional    investigation, it was determined          community. FRCs, with a strength-
problem,” and delves into the effects    that the auto accidents – 1,000 in a      based approach to working with
of changing medical,                                                                          individuals and families,
human services, and                                                                           are in a unique position to
criminal justice systems                                                                      not only provide needed
on individuals and                                                                            services but to help make
communities.                                                                                  policy changes and to
                                                                                              organize and rebuild
McKnight’s premise is                                                                         community so that families
that the abundance of                                                                         have the community
professional experts and                                                                      infrastructure in place to
service providers –                                                                           support themselves and
approximately 90% of                                                                          one another.
the paid workforce in
2000, as opposed to just                                                                      After reading The Careless
10% of the workforce in                                                                       Society, FRCs can ponder
1900 – can actually cause                                                                     questions such as: How
harm in communities. In                                                                       do FRCs balance service
this realm, professionals                                                                     provision with community
view clients as being                                                                         development? How do
deficient, as being the problem, and     period of 3 months in a community                    FRCs use individual and
as having a collection of problems.      of 0,000 people – were caused            family strengths to solve problems
Professionals, McKnight says, need       primarily by commuters driving            rather than enable families to
the deficiency, need individuals with    through the community. One site           continue using the services and
the deficiency, and especially need      identified as having multiple accidents   supports provided? How do FRCs
individuals with multiple deficiencies   was the parking lot of one specific       sort through the differences between
in order to thrive economically.         department store. What appeared           service solutions and community
                                         to be a health issue to be addressed      solutions? How do FRCs engage
McKnight asserts that many of the        by local hospitals became a traffic       community members to research
social problems in the United States     flow issue, and citizens were able        local issues and identify and promote
can be better resolved by building       to address it appropriately with the      local solutions?
the capacity of local citizens. As       department store and the planning
an example, he tells the story of a                                                The Careless Society: Community and Its
community of 0,000 on the West                                                    Counterfeits by John McKnight, ISBN
Side of Chicago. A community             The Careless Society is a valuable read   0-0-912-1, is published by Basic
organization reviewed the health         for family resource centers (FRCs)        Books and retails for $23.00.

Hints and Tips
Social Strength: People Create Change
Leigh Melander                              of the Alliance had appeared on         were being served by the program to
The key to social service agencies          one Vietnamese language show, the       serve as advocates for others. Staff
succeeding at their social change           station received so many calls that     invited Meals on Wheels recipients to
efforts is in the word they share:          they were asked to appear again. Exit   write letters to their representatives
social. Emerging from its Latin roots       polls showed that many Vietnamese       advocating support for summer
for companion and ally, “social”            voters had been influenced to vote by   youth programs. Participants leapt
hints at the strength imbedded in the       the shows. When educated through        at the opportunity to work in
connections that emerge for family          familiar and comfortable media          support of their community. The
resource centers (FRCs). The network        forums, the Asian Pacific Islander      experiment worked on several levels:
of families served and serving FRCs         community in Orange County voted        politicians responded to the advocacy
are poised to be a resource                 on issues they cared about.             by expanding support for youth
to affect genuine change.                                                                 programming, the task was a
The key is to empower and                                                                 great match for people who
educate stakeholders as                                                                   were mostly homebound, and
advocates, building a core                                                                participants suddenly found a
of self-assessing partners in                                                             new sense of ownership in the
the process. This is genuine                                                              community center. Participants
asset-based thinking, and it’s                                                            were no longer merely recipients
simpler than you might think.                                                             of services, but capable and
                                                                                          important partners in building
Use Familiar Channels Get                                                                 their community.
Out the Vote
Making Democracy Work, a                                                                Hint: This project worked
publication from the James                                                              because people were given the
Irvine Foundation, describes                                                            opportunity to be generous in
a project of the Orange                                                                 ways that were appropriate to
County Asian Pacific Islander                                                           their skills and abilities. How
Community Alliance. The Alliance            Hint: What communication channels           can you match abilities and
recognized that their stakeholders, the     do your stakeholders already use?       opportunities in your community?
fourth-largest Asian Pacific Islander       How can you take advantage of           This example is included in Social
community in the country, were              them?                                   Service and Social Change: A Process
essentially politically voiceless because                                           Guide, published by the Building
                                            Get Help From Those Being
much of the community did not vote.                                                 Movement Project. The guide
Along with community forums and                                                     offers both constructs and concrete
                                            In an effort to deepen their ability
other voter mobilization efforts, the                                               examples to build social change into
                                            to engage in asset-based thinking,
Alliance took advantage of the area’s                                               the ongoing action and mission of
                                            staff at one community center
Asian language newspapers and radio                                                 social service agencies.
                                            began to explore both their own
and television stations already popular
                                            and their community’s perceptions       For more information on the
with the community. The Alliance
                                            of participation and reciprocity.       Building Movement Project
wrote articles and appeared on shows
                                            Ultimately, the group decided to        and the process guide, visit
to discuss current propositions and
                                            experiment with asking people who
election issues. After representatives

California Family Resource Association Update
CFRA Receives a Two-Year Grant from The California Endowment
Leticia Alejandrez                        illness, and children and youth who        CFRA will first identify model mental
CFRA has received a two-year grant        have been diagnosed with or who            health programs that are currently
from The California Endowment that        may have serious emotional disorders,      being provided in community-based
focuses on mental health capacity         and their families.” The MHSA, in          family-serving organizations. To
building. As a statewide membership       conjunction with                                            promote replication
organization, CFRA is ready to            findings on the federal                                     of these evidence-
work with family strengthening            level, demonstrates                                         based mental health
organizations to build capacity and       that the time is                                            models, CFRA will
address policy for systemic change.       right for California                                        then produce a
CFRA will use The California              family strengthening                                        briefing paper on
Endowment grant to strengthen the         organizations, such                                         these models that
capacity of family resource centers       as FRCs, to include                                         will be distributed
(FRCs) and family strengthening           mental health services                                      to the family
programs in California to integrate       as part of their                                            strengthening field.
mental health resources.                  comprehensive work                                          The briefing paper
                                          with the communities                                        will be supplemented
Voters passed the Mental Health           they serve.                                                 with teleconferences
Services Act (MHSA) in 200 to                                                                        to further promote
create a better program of mental            FRCs are well                                            understanding and
health services and supports for             positioned to serve                     replication of these best practices.
“adults and older adults who have            neighborhood residents on sensitive     In addition, CFRA will select and
been diagnosed with or who may               issues, such as mental health. Some     work with 3- FRCs or other family
have serious and persistent mental           are currently providing mental health   strengthening agencies to develop
                                                                    services while   action plans for implementation
 Did You Know?                                                      others may       of mental health programs in
   • The majority of likely voters are age  and older             need more        underserved communities. CFRA will
     (2%), have household incomes of $0,000 or more               support to       also build its own capacity to provide
     (%), and have college degrees (3%). In contrast,            provide such     leadership on mental health policy.
     a vast majority of nonvoters are younger than age              services.
      (%), and far fewer have household incomes                 Through this     By the end of the grant period,
     of $0,000 or more (18%) or have college degrees               grant, CFRA      CFRA and its membership will be
     (1%).                                                         will provide     in a position to effectively change
   • Although no racial or ethnic group constitutes a               capacity         systems by incorporating evidence-
     majority in California, whites comprise 0 percent             building that    based mental health programs into
     of likely voters, Latinos 1 percent, blacks  percent,        will build       family strengthening programs and
     and Asians  percent.                                          or enhance       actively participating in local and state
                                                                    partnerships     mental health policy development.
 From California’s Exclusive Electorate, a report released          with county
 by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC)                agencies,        If your FRC provides mental
 with funding from The William and Flora Hewlett                    allies, and      health services and is interested in
 Foundation. Download the report for free from PPIC’s               mental health    participating in this pilot program,
 website at                                           providers.       call CFRA at (91) 338-33.

(Continued from page 3)                Implications for the Organization         survival have neither the time nor
                                       The work of democracy is not always       interest to build their democratic
organization. Many of those involved
                                       orderly. That means organizations         skills. Not to mention that staff
have talked about how the organizer
                                       that choose to engage in it will find     can feel burdened by adding new
has helped to transform and energize
                                       it may come into conflict with some       dimensions to their work when they
the organization’s overall work.
                                       of the ways nonprofits have evolved       already face so many challenges. The
Assessment                             over the past thirty years. First, many   initial result may be resistance rather
One of the greatest benefits in        nonprofit groups separated from           than energy for this new part of their
retooling the nonprofit sector to      their roots of collective voice as they   job. Including staff and listening
engage in democratic practice is       professionalized. Organizations that      to what they believe makes up a
the impact it has on the work                                                       democracy and their role in it is an
we do. That impact comes from                                                       essential part of addressing these
taking action, assessing the                                                        concerns.
results, and learning from that
                                                                                    Finally, building democratic
assessment. Learning is more than
                                                                                    practice has us taking the long
simply reflecting on our work
                                                                                    view, a luxury we do not always feel
or reporting the outcomes. It is
                                                                                    we can afford given the economic
changing what we do based on
                                                                                    and political context in which we
what we find. It challenges us to
                                                                                    work. Shrinking state and federal
examine our beliefs and values in
                                                                                    budgets, continued trends towards
light of the views of what works,
                                                                                    tax cuts, the rising federal deficit,
what does not work, and why.
                                                                                    and the increases that will be
Those we work with are important
                                                                                    needed for Social Security and
partners in the assessment not
                                                                                    Medicare put enormous pressure
only for what benefits they
                                       developed to enhance outcomes                on those who work in nonprofit
received – or did not receive – from
                                       often found that building democratic      organizations, threatening our very
the process and outcome, but also
                                       practice was not a priority and was       survival. Most nonprofits continue
what they think could have been done
                                       hard to explain to funding sources.       to do their work, trying to figure out
better or just differently.
                                       We thought that the problems              how they can do more for less. In
Many of us who work in the sector      we faced could be solved, leaving         the long run, however, this is not a
think of learning as an indulgence     constituents free to engage in our        solution. Building democratic practice
given the enormous demands of our      democracy. Now we need to go back         brings in the voices and energy of
work, but how else can you really      to those roots once again.                those groups who are often ignored –
understand the meaning and impact                                                the populations nonprofits work with
of the work ? We often believe that    Staff members who have worked             and for – and takes us one step closer
good results speak for themselves.     hard to receive the credentials needed    to creating a truly just society.
The process of participation –         for their jobs may find involving
                                       constituents means learning skills        It is hard to see any other sector in
engaging those we work with to
                                       not taught in school. Often staff         our country with such institutions
act on their own behalf – helps us
                                       feel that constituency involvement is     that have the scope, breadth, values,
learn how to articulate the impact
                                       impossible or will lead to chaos, or      and commitment to take on this task.
of our work. It also keeps people
                                       that constituents concerned about         And our democracy may depend on
participating, understanding that
their assessment is not simply to
improve the work and image of the       This article originally appeared in the Winter 200 issue of SPARC Notes,
organization, but a way to gain a       the newsletter of the National Council of Nonprofit Associations (NCNA).
voice and say in their own lives.       Visit NCNA’s website at

Strategies Calendar – Upcoming Events
March 2007         Case Management Practice              April 2007               May 2007 (cont.)
Home Visiting                                            Youth Development        Cultural Workshop
Essentials           May 15-16 – Woodland                Santa Cruz – April 12    TBA – May 17
Yreka – March                                            (805) 485-6114, ext.     (805) 485-6114, ext. 644
6-7               An interactive two-day                 644
(530) 872-        training that uses a strength-                                  Family Economic Success and
3896, ext. 116    based approach to cover the            Working with Special     Stability
                                                         Needs Children and       Madera – May 22
Impact of         principles, practices, and issues      their Families           (805) 485-6114, ext. 644
Depression on     in case management.                    Los Angeles – April 19
Families                                                 (714) 517-1900, ext.     FaCT & Strategies Conference
Santa Barbara     For more information, call Anvi        217                      Irvine – May 23
– March 8         Dinh at (714) 517-1900, ext. 217.                               (714) 517-1900, ext. 217
(805) 485-                                               Transforming Central
                                                         Valley Communities       Strategies Sustainability Project:
6114, ext. 644
                                       Tulare – April 25                          Building Blocks to the Future
Family Economic Success and            (805) 485-6114, ext. 644                   Fresno – May 24
Stability                                                                         (530) 872-3896, ext. 116
Los Angeles – March 15                 Family Economic Success and Stability
                                       Red Bluff – April 26                       Strategies Sustainability Project:
(805) 485-6114, ext. 644
                                       (805) 485-6114, ext. 644                   Building Blocks to the Future
Home Visiting Next Steps                                                          Oakland – May 31
Roseville – March 20                                                              (530) 872-3896, ext. 116
                                       May 2007
(530) 872-3896, ext. 116               Impact of Depression
                                       Stockton – May 3                           June 2007
Domestic Violence                                                                 Home Visiting Next Steps
                                       (805) 485-6114, ext. 644
Los Angeles – March 22                                                            Jackson – June 19
(714) 517-1900, ext. 217               Strategies Sustainability Project:         (530) 872-3896, ext. 116
                                       Building Blocks to the Future
                                       Sacramento – May 8
Bakersfield – March 27
                                       (530) 872-3896, ext. 116
(805) 485-6114, ext. 644
                                                                                    Working with Special Needs
                                       Case Management Practice
Impact of Depression
                                       Woodland – May 15-16
                                                                                    Children and their Families
Anaheim – March 29
                                       (714) 517-1900, ext. 237                       April 19 – Los Angeles
(805) 485-6114, ext. 644
                                                                                   A one-day training for anyone
            Family Economic Success and Stability                                  who works with families and
     Creating Pathways to Family Financial Self-Sufficiency                        their special needs children.
                                                                                   Learn how to recognize typical
 A one-day training focusing on how to help families move towards                  and atypical development and
 economic stability and success. This training is for all staff (direct            how to navegate the eligibility
 client contact, supervisors, and administrators) who are interested               and referral systems.
 in developing ways to help clients and communities to improve their
 economic outlook.                                                                 For more information, call Anvi
                                                                                   Dinh at (714) 517-1900, ext. 217.
     March 15                   April 26                 May 22
     Los Angeles                Red Bluff                Madera
 Register online at For more information,           Register for trainings online at
 call Sarah Paige at (805) 485-6114, ext. 644.                           !

        Strategies Sustainability Project
                                 Building Blocks to the Future
 Attend one of these convenings to learn how to apply for the Sustainability Project.

                                                                  If accepted into the year-long project, your FRC will
   Tuesday, May 8, 2007                                           receive:
   Sacramento, California
                                                                   •   Onsite coaching
   Thursday, May 24, 2007                                          •   Peer-to-peer networking and support
   Fresno, California                                              •   Professional assessments and tools
                                                                   •   Specialized trainings and resources for long-term
   Thursday, May 31, 2007                                              sustainability
                                                                                                                       Res ed

   Oakland, California

                                                                                                                                     s-                 All                     s
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                                                                                                            t    d             Based
                                                                                                         gemen                                        ur
                                                                                                                                   Adapta                                       Mis ion
                                                                                                                                           bility so
                                                                                                                                               Re                                  sio /

Register online at For                                     Ma

                                                                                                                                                                     urces Vision/
                                                                                            nag                                     Re                                                        /
                                                                                                                                      so                                                    on n
                                                                                               em                ent                                                                     si
                                                                                                        Managem                              ce
                                                                                                                                                s tab                                  Vi ssio

more information, call Orrin Banta at (530) 872-3896,                                                                     Adaptabilit             p                                      i
                                                                                                                                          y Ada                                        M

ext. 140.

                                                                                                                                   Nonprofit Organization
                                                                                                                                       U.S. Postage
                                                                                                                                    Paradise, CA 95969
 Youth For Change                                                                                                                       Permit #59
 Paradise Ridge Family Resource Center
 Working Strategies
 6249 Skyway
 Paradise, CA 95969

For more information about trainings, workshops,
conferences, and more, contact your region.
Region 1 Jody Hall-Winget (530) 872-3896 ext. 116
Region 2 Geoffrey Biggs (805) 485-6114 ext. 642
Region 3 Norma De Leon (714) 517-1900, ext. 237
Please notify Jody Hall-Winget of any
address corrections.
Phone: (530) 872-3896, ext 116
Fax: (530) 872-4093
Mail: 6249 Skyway, Paradise, CA 95969
Strategies is a network of three training centers funded by the
State of California, Department of Social Services, Office of
Child Abuse Prevention, to promote a statewide network of
family resource centers.

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