2022 Grants Challenge

Grassroots Organizing: A Proven Community Safety Strategy

Community Coalition’s (CoCo's) Grassroots Organizing program is centered on training and involving 300+ residents in advancing key quality of life campaigns on their own behalf. Grassroots change efforts are furthered in line with a long history of uplifting the voices, lived experiences, and expertise of everyday people to improve the health and safety of South Los Angeles (South LA).


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Community Safety

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

South LA

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

South LA residents have a deep commitment to improving community safety in their own neighborhoods, and have organized alongside CoCo for over three decades to shift social/economic conditions that facilitate violence/crime. Founded in 1990 during the height of the crack-cocaine epidemic, CoCo sought to advance non-punitive community safety models during a period when addiction was met with devastating levels of criminalization and incarceration. The legacy of the drug crisis, as well as the impacts of chronic disinvestment, are deeply felt in South LA to this day. 41.6% of South LA residents live below the Federal Poverty Line, and poverty and crime have been exacerbated due to the disproportionate harms of COVID-19. CoCo knows that crime goes up when communities are hurting and lack access to equitable resources/supports. Therefore, CoCo invests in community safety models that are grounded in addressing critical deficiencies in the social safety net and greater landscape.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

CoCo is enthused to submit this proposal to the Goldhirsh Foundation for $75,000 in support of its Grassroots Organizing program, a proven and researched strategy that creates opportunities for historically marginalized communities to improve quality of life in their own communities. As aligned with the priority of making Los Angeles a better place to play, a partnership with the Goldhirsh Foundation would be pivotal to maintaining and expanding resident-led, reimagined community safety efforts. Grassroots leaders promote community safety via: Nuisance Abatement: Residents steward crime prevention through leading nuisance abatement work, which addresses the over-concentration of nuisance sites (unlicensed liquor stores, smoke shops, and marijuana dispensaries) that act as hotspots for crime/public safety risks. Bolstering the Social Safety Net: It is a well known fact that access to resources is a deterrent to crime and can help lift families out of devastating material situations. Thus, residents are trained as leaders to engage and advocate for the resources and programming needed to help make communities safe and whole. Park Equity/Built Environment/Land Use: Residents organize to get parks resourced, and build partnerships with entities like Advocates 4 Peace & Urban Unity (APUU), who help increase South LA residents’ safe access to parks/open spaces via the integration of gang interventionists and community stakeholders.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

CoCo and South LA residents have a long legacy of utilizing grassroots organizing to advance equity that benefits historically disenfranchised communities. Together they have secured more than $14B in critical wins for South LA residents and people all across the region. Through advancing on-going grassroots efforts that improve community safety in South LA, CoCo’s vision of success would include the training and leadership development of 300 residents who will utilize their skills to make LA County a place that values all residents. Residents will be engaged in ongoing efforts that address nuisance sites and blight in their communities, increase park safety, and facilitate engagement with key stakeholders around investments in resources and programming that cumulatively facilitate improved community safety. The effort would center residents of South LA in impact, but would have far-reaching influence in the LA region at large.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

To measure the impact of the program, as aligned with the identified community safety issue, outcomes will include: -The leadership development of 300 residents to lead key quality of life campaigns in their own communities (and on their own behalf). -1-2 new opportunities seized by residents to address nuisance sites where a noticeable improvement in safety and neighborhood conditions can be mapped. -1-2 partnerships in which residents engage around development, built environment, and/or park equity to help bring tangible physical resources/space improvements to South LA that are reflective of community-identified desires/priorities. -Increased investments in resources/programming that benefit South LA and other historically disenfranchised communities in LA as a result of resident-leaders engaging with stakeholders on their own behalf.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 300

Indirect Impact: 3,000