Community Builders Resource Network (CBRN)
The idea is to identify organizations that are actively engaged in service to their communities, and to increase their effectiveness through interconnectedness, training and support. Social connectedness, put simply, measures how people come together and interact. Believing that relationship development is one of the best means that any person or group can use to gain access to resources, we are starting the Community Builders Resource Network (CBRN). What will CBRN do exactly? It will make good organizations better. It will do this by providing training in the areas most critical to organizational success: Strategic Planning, Leadership Development, Teambuilding, Compassionate Communication, and Effective Fundraising. As a coalition of the willing – access to training will be made open to any group or organization (regardless of political, religious or sexual alignment) purposed to relieve suffering. Training will be made available for free and offered in both Spanish and English. Knowing that volunteers often play an integral role in these groups – training and workshops will be offered to accommodate a variety of schedules and will include evening and weekend opportunities. A foundation from which to build a better LA already exists. By identifying and creating a collaborative network for the already existing 501(c)3 organizations within a community – beginning with service organizations, educational facilities, and faith based organizations – we can better identify a community’s resources and thus better meet that community’s needs. There are a number of faith based organizations in my neighborhood that sit largely unpurposed during the week. Wonderful facilities with classrooms, kitchens, bathrooms and open areas that could offer any number of community services, such as: childcare, afterschool programs, ESL, literacy, First Aid, CPR, 12 Step programs, food pantries, vocational training, community gardens, etc. - are awaiting inspiration into more directed usefulness. The development of more effective social connectedness will not be limited to internally collaborative network, however. A better means of connecting these resources to the public needs to be developed and implemented. A user friendly website that serves as resource index to the public will be developed and maintained as part of this initiative. As representative of a food pantry that serves over 5,000 people monthly – and having worked as a volunteer with this organization for over 20 years, I am personally aware of and connected to a half dozen other food pantries in the Northeast San Fernando Valley. However, I just did a Google search of “food pantries San Fernando Valley” and none of these organizations came up. There is a disconnect that desperately needs to addressing – yet the organizations involved are generally running with little to no administrative overhead and are often comprised of volunteers for whom website development is either not a priority, or it lies outside of their budget or skill sets.
What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?
The First Southern Baptist Church of Sylmar (FSBCS), who is the sponsoring partner of this initiative, began a food pantry immediately after the Northridge earthquake in ’94, as a distributor for FEMA. Since the need to assist the hungry didn’t end once the infrastructure was repaired, neither did the FSBCS. The church is quite small; in fact, it averages less than 50 people a week for its Sunday service – yet it provides food to an average of 5,000 people per month. It manages to do this week after week, month after month, year after year – with a workforce comprised entirely of volunteers. There are no administrative costs or overhead.
This has been done by effectively collaborating with a host of other community organizations from withing the public and private sectors. As continued recipients of Federal resources, the boundaries between Church and State are clearly understood and respected.
Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.
Kaiser Permanente, L.A.P.D. Mission Station and it's Clergy Council, The Sylmar Neighborhood Council, M.E.N.D., Valley Food Bank and the Rescue Mission Alliance, Los Angeles Education Partnership, The Boys and Girls Club, The offices of the local City Council, State Assembly, Public Works, The California Endowment, and the California Community Foundation, along with more than a dozen Faith Based Organizations, public schools and private schools - to name a few.
Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?
Social connectedness is a means of evaluating a group or individuals ability to develop and maintain relationships - here are six of the measurements typically used to measure this indicator:
1. Duration of relationship
2. Frequency of interaction with the other person
3.Knowledge of the other person's goals
4. Trust/closeness with the other person or group
5. Self-disclosure to the other person
6. Social network familiarity—how familiar is the other person with the rest of your social circle
Detailed internal assessments will be used to determine the current connectivity of all participating organizations. This will identify their current relationships with each other as well as the communities they serve.
Often, service organizations measure their success based on numerically valuated metrics. For example, a homeless shelter with 80 beds may measure its success based on occupancy. Is the number of slept in beds really the true measure of success, or is the number of people helped to get into permanent living arrangements? How many organizations truly identify through some manner of effective intake procedure – the ongoing needs of those they serve, then develop relationships around lasting solutions rather than temporarily alleviating aids?
Our assessments will be geared towards accurately gauging these areas so that improvements can then be implemented and measured accordingly.
Until the initial surveys are done, however, the precise areas in need of improvement will not be fully ascertained.
How will your project benefit Los Angeles?
Through targeted development of its existing, non profits. If each of them could be improved by 15%, the impact would be profound.
What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?
Los Angeles County has 88 municipalities. This collaborative process that we would pilot, is being concentrated in just 2 of them. Success would be this model being tried and proven effective, then spread across all 88 municipalities.