Across the nation, low-income people, people of color, women, and others are far less represented on city, county, and community decision-making bodies, such as planning commissions, rent boards, and affordable housing commissions. Based on my previous work to remedy this disparity in the Bay Area, Liberty Hill asked me to develop, implement, and continuously evaluate a strategic program that builds the capacity of Los Angeles city and county residents to serve on and influence appointed city boards and commissions. More than just a training program, it draws on issues that are at the forefront of equity for low-income communities in the city and county of Los Angeles. The resulting Emerging Leaders program, now in its fifth year, provides a community framework for stronger, active connections between community groups and appointed commissioners, allowing marginalized stakeholders to work more effectively together to build power and achieve common progressive policy and social justice objectives.
The United States is a world leader in income and wealth disparity, disparities that negatively impact the health, well-being, and life expectancy of a growing number of citizens. EARN's national vision is to create prosperity for working families by helping them save and invest in their futures. They reached out to me to help them make sure that their program constituents were prepared and empowered to serve as movement and policy champions working on behalf of financial security low-income Americans. I supported EARN in building and implementing their pilot Policy Ambassador Training Program, creating program outcomes, designing curriculum, vetting speakers, and implementing training. Program participants met with state and local legislators about safe and affordable savings programs, fair student loan policies, and goal-based savings products, and they were encouraged to share financial literacy and economic equity knowledge with their communities.
By every indicator from income to life expectancy and across our country, boys and young men of color are at risk of early death, high unemployment, lack of access to healthcare, overpolicing and overincarceration, and low rates of high school graduation. While in school, young males of color risk being racially profiled, unfairly punished, and pushed out. In response, Liberty Hill Foundation convened youth leaders from around LA to work toward a more positive school environment in Los Angeles for boys of color toward the Brothers, Sons, and Selves (BSS) coalition. As part of their youth program, BSS asked me to develop and lead a multi-session training to prepare youth organizers to leverage school site councils as a position of power for decision-making and leadership development, including by understanding California schools’ Local Control Funding Formula. Incubated for six years at Liberty Hill, BSS is now an independent coalition led by anchor organizations that continue to build, lead, and win.