2014 Grants Challenge

CivicLA: Connecting You to the Best of LA

Civic LA will build capacity, connect and convene Angelenos in ways that lead to a more deeply engaged Los Angeles County.


Please describe yourself.

Proposed collaboration (we want to work with partners!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

Civic LA will build capacity, connect and convene Angelenos in ways that lead to a more deeply engaged Los Angeles County.

Does your project impact Los Angeles County?

Yes (benefits all of LA County)

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

Central LA

East LA

South LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South Bay


LA County

What is your idea/project in more detail?

Civic LA will serve as a catalyst for engagement and social mobility leading to a more vibrant Los Angeles County. Offering platforms for both online and offline participation in civic life, the initiative is positioned to bring stakeholders together -- Angelenos and institutions -- in ways that strengthen their relationships to one another and the neighborhoods, clients and causes they support. The goal is to help generate and facilitate solutions to problems facing communities through the engagement of their respective members; Civic LA will equip residents and organizations with the tools they need to expand economic opportunity and social mobility through their participation in civic life.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

The IUPUI Task Force on Civic Engagement broadly defines the term civic life and civic engagement interchangeably as a concept that generally includes activities that build on the collective resources, skills, expertise and knowledge of citizens to improve the quality of life in communities. The aim of Civic LA is to (with that definition in mind) fully support all five goals of LA2050 -- making Los Angeles the best and healthiest place to live, play, create, learn and especially connect. The project will help Angelenos address the concerns of their communities by serving as a conduit for information and resources. Civic LA will put everyday people in touch with their capacity to make a difference and create more fulfilling lives for themselves, their families and their neighbors.

Civic LA will gather and disseminate information from the nonprofit and public sector as well as private organizations on ways to participate in civic life across Los Angeles County. The initiative will offer a centralized mechanism to enlist, receive and coordinate support -- whether time and talent, financial resources, or political voice -- for civic engagement activities which may include: public meetings, forums, special events and community activities; skill and leadership training opportunities; service & volunteerism, governing board participation or other ways to contribute value to the community.

As a convener, Civic LA will partner to host neighborhood based workshops and resource fairs where attendees can learn about enrollment/participation in eligible programs, services and public benefits for which they qualify. Examples may include early childhood education enrollment fairs, parent education classes, higher education and adult learning information sessions, employment fairs and career training, community issue education, and assistance for special populations (e.g. English language learners; small, minority or women owned businesses; veterans and military families, etc.). As an aggregator of content, Civic LA will provide online resources via the web and mobile technology that help Angelenos find and pursue engagement opportunities.

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

Whether your interest is in alleviating poverty by addressing homelessness and hunger, you’d like to see a better prepared workforce for emerging labor market needs, or just want to find a fun community activity to take your family to on a Thursday night, Civic LA will be the hub for you to access information on the many great assets Los Angeles has to offer.

The online platform will allow you use your voice to express opinions, tell your story, and share your world view. Find deeper connectivity to neighbors who share your interests. Learn about, contribute to, and enlist others to support the causes you believe in.

Imagine what the world would be like if every time you were inspired to help someone or something, you found a great way to do it. What if you better knew how to use, manage, assess, and understand the resources within your reach (human and otherwise) to enjoy a better life? In 2050, Civic LA could be the destination with a 35 year history for those desires to be achieved.

Whom will your project benefit?

Civic LA will benefit all stakeholders who wish to stay up to date on what matters most to them in their your community. Residents and visitors; leaders, law-makers and developers of public policy; employers and employment seekers; parents and learners of all ages; activists, volunteers, philanthropists, agents of change and the providers of human services would all get value out of having a one-stop-shop specific to the interrelated networks that comprise the social fabric of Los Angeles County.

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

Opportunity Nation is a bipartisan, national campaign comprised of more than 300 businesses, educational institutions, nonprofits and civic organizations working together to expand economic mobility and close the opportunity gap in America of which Community Centered is a member. Civic LA will serve as a local coalition within the national campaign.

Opportunity Nation’s mission is to restore the promise of the American Dream by ensuring that all Americans – regardless of where they were born – have the opportunity to thrive. Through the work of a diverse coalition, the Opportunity Index (comprehensive research), the Shared Plan to Restore Opportunity and neighborhood opportunity summits, we will stimulate the conversation, advance issues and bring together unlikely allies to jumpstart the American Dream in Los Angeles.

NationBuilder (a local resource) will support part of the technical infrastructure for online organizing and data management. NationBuilder is the world's first Community Organizing System. An accessible, affordable software platform that helps leaders grow and organize communities to achieve great things. NationBuilder was founded in November of 2009 and the company is located in downtown Los Angeles.

NationBuilder offers easy-to-update websites, a people database and communication tools like email, text messaging and social media - all in one system. Businesses, nonprofits, governments, and politicians use NationBuilder to organize their communities and build more meaningful relationships with customers, supporters, and constituents.

Other entities such as school districts and institutions of higher education; chambers of commerce, business and professional associations; fraternal and other membership organizations; municipal, county, state, and federal government agencies and elected officials; providers of health and human services; places of worship, neighborhood groups, and volunteer mobilizing organizations will all be invited to participate in Civic LA activities.

How will your project impact the LA2050 CONNECT metrics?

Rates of volunteerism

Voting rates by race

Adults getting sufficient social & emotional support

Attendance at cultural events

Number of public transit riders

Participation in neighborhood councils

Percentage of Angelenos that volunteer informally (Dream Metric)

Government responsiveness to residents’ needs (Dream Metric)

Attendance at public/open street gatherings (Dream Metric)

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

Surveys will be issued to members of the Civic LA community to identify their initial civic participation patterns, attitudes, perceptions, preferences and changes over time and demonstrate project activities in relation to the resulting impact these metric.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

Civic LA will perform qualitative and quantitative analyses to assess short-term, intermediate, and long-term outcomes associated with project activities.

Rates of volunteerism, attendance at cultural events, participation in neighborhood councils, and attendance at public/open street gatherings are all metrics that will help measure the success of this project. In addition to the LA2050 impact metrics, other nationally standardized civic engagement metrics and locally defined measures will be used quantify project successes related to volunteer mobilization, training and capacity building, partner relationship development, public policy, storytelling, and resource utilization.

The integrated marketing communications plan for the project will include an engagement strategy and tools for performance measurement to demonstrate achievement. Indicators will included changes in attitudes, perceptions and behaviors as evidenced in advocacy campaign participation, donations, event attendance, volunteering, communications opt-ins, participation in leadership activities (committees, boards, task forces, and political action). Correlations will also be made to changes in the annual Opportunity Index for Los Angeles County. Fourteen indicators are measured across more than 3,100 US counties, considered into a score out of 100 in the following dimensions:

A look into important aspects of educational success - children in preschool, on-time highschool graduation rate, and post-secondary education rate. A score has been generated that compares these indicators against the national average.

A look into key indicators of the health of an economy - unemployment, median income, and number of people below the poverty line, as well as the availability of banking institutions, affordable housing, and internet access. A score has been generated that compares these indicators against the national average.

A look into factors affecting community health and civic life. Included are the percentage of teenagers working and not in school, the rates of violent crime and homicide, access to healthcare, and availability of healthy foods. A score has been generated that compares these indicators against the national average.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

Firstly, this project is derived from the experience of researching and integrating solutions from many communities of varying sizes and characteristics over the past decade who (whether successfully or not) deployed online and/or office strategies to address similar objectives. Identifying the achievements, barriers/challenges they faced, risks, and ultimately the corrective actions taken along with lessons learned inform Civic LA.

Additionally, identifying the right fit for employing a set of strategies is an important factor that textures this proposal given the sheer population size, diversity, and geographic scale that is represented within Los Angeles County.

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

The period of one year is an adequate amount of time which will allow for the significant planning, further definition of performance targets, partner relationship management, recruitment and training of volunteers and staff, system development, and the building of essential relationships with other stakeholders that are required to penetrate Greater Los Angeles with a comfortable degree of success.

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

One major barrier is the lack of political will by some institutions/entities to share information and resources. The spirit of competition or indifference often prevails over that of collaboration and synergy when resources are scarce and uncertain. It will take very mindful and deliberate consideration to manage relationships in a way that allows for each party to mutually leverage their resources and capacity in a way that does not leave them disadvantaged. There is also a matter of public trust and confidence which must be gained so that Civic LA as a new initiative can build a positive reputation as a responsible steward responsive to stakeholders.

Secondarily, the LA2050 Challenge is but seed funding for a much larger financial need. The success of this project (with a scope of work that includes incremental growth based on resources committed to it) will largely rely on other organizations to buy-in to the concept and provide additional financial assistance. A prospect list is being development which includes potentially interested parties in the donor community such as community foundations, family foundations, corporate foundations and corporate social responsibility initiatives, and individuals.