SP Collective Impact Project gets into gear by outlining program, goals

March 03, 2017
Santa Paula News

Community leaders and stakeholders met last week to address how Santa Paulans can reverse the cycle of poverty by getting into gear with a variety of efforts and advocates.

The Santa Paula Collective Impact Project (SPCIP) workshop was co-sponsored by Latino Town Hall and others at the Community Center, where dozens of activists, educators, social service providers and others who have been working together for months took another step forward on its “two-generation” approach. 

“Reversing the Cycle of Poverty in Santa Paula” focused on challenges associated with issues related to local poverty, which noted organizers, “Continue to adversely impact the quality of life for our local residents.”

Santa Paula has one of the highest poverty rates in Ventura County and is among the lowest in median income.

Members of SPCIP have been addressing strategies and projects to address such challenges for more than a year and held its orientation meeting in September.

Participants were intentionally selected to represent a broad cross-section of the community based on the belief that no single organization, however innovative or powerful, can accomplish social change alone via isolated impact. Large-scale social change requires broad, cross-sector coordination from a wide variety of backgrounds to ensure multiple perspectives via collective impact. 

The SPCIP also seeks to build relationships, capacity and trust among its collaborators to reverse the trend of organizations across the country that have failed to solve social issues by collaboration. 

Santa Paula Latino Town Hall President Lorenzo Moraza told the crowd that “Your presence speaks to your commitment to the residents of Santa Paula…we are all interested in making this beautiful city of ours a better community for us and generations,” to come.

Moraza said the group has been doing its homework: “We have accomplished much,” including discovering that although there are many services for those seeking help and guidance, there is a lack of coordination among such agencies and organizations.   

Now that SPCIP has the “Structured leadership team, we are ready to move into the next space,” and “learn more about the assets and needs to make Santa Paula,” a sustainable and safe community.

Literature was distributed that showed the city’s demographics, age distribution, socioeconomics, education, crime rate and even life expectancy.  

Santa Paula, noted Moraza, is the second poorest city in Ventura County: “Only Port Hueneme has that distinction of being number one in being less fortunate…Santa Paula is multicultural, multilingual and small, but we have spirit. But, we are traditionally underserved and un-served,” and Moraza said that would be changed. 

“We have been called to be shields for those less fortunate — if not us,” asked Moraza, “who will?”

Selfa Saucedo of the Ventura County Health Care Agency spoke about the “backbone support” that SPCIP would provide.

“It really is quite simple. It’s not a project of itself, it’s not something we’re going to do, it is more of a philosophy, an approach, a way of strategizing and selecting ideas and projects.”

She explained the five components of the Two Generation approach, each illustrated as a gear that must be interlocked to make it all work.

The approach focuses on creating opportunities for and addressing needs of both vulnerable children and their parents together. The five key components are early childhood education, postsecondary education and employment pathways, economic supports and assets, health and well-being and social capital. 

The five elements said Saucedo is a “Shared vision for change, a common agenda and all must be on the same page,” and shared by the whole family.

There must be a measurement system to determine what works, mutually reinforcing activities must be shared and continuous communication established. 

The latter, she noted, “Is so critical to any project,” to garner interest and support and to attract families to the project while giving the whole community a sense of ownership in SPCIP.

Dr. Gabino Aguirre spoke of how Santa Paula’s approximately 50 clubs and organizations are “all doing great things, but we’re not working together. Collective Impact looks at that isolation and brings all together, under one tent — this is that tent.”

The Two Generation approach is one meant to combine services and programs into a family centered entity: “So the Two Generation model says unless you’re working with the family as a unit, you won’t make it.” 

Aguirre used the example of a child attending school but the parents being unaware of their student’s homework. 

“Unless someone is working with parents so they know what homework is going home, their areas of study so they can become supportive of their children at home, the children might not make it.”

Half the children in Santa Paula, “live in poverty” and if the parents can be helped as workers that in turn will improve child development.

And, “Both will be escaping from poverty,” not just their children.

Parents should also be informed about financial aid to help their children attend college or vocational school.

“Unfortunately,” he noted, “we are a poor community, but Santa Paula is the center of the Universe. It is a beautiful place but we have challenges and traditionally we have not gotten help from outside Santa Paula. This is the time to say we need those services…we pay our taxes, we deserve what others’ have. We don’t want more, but we don’t want less.”

Aguirre said even encouraging a child to start a college fund, “even with just a dollar a week, the reality of having that college fund will guarantee they’ll think about college,” and be more likely to attend.

Housing must be adequate for the family so there is a table to do homework and enjoy family meals as well as provide privacy to study. 

Health care needs are higher among the poor: “We have a condition here in town called toxic stress, because of the poverty level,” that affects adults and children with high-blood pressure, domestic violence, gangs and diabetes.

Aguirre said social capital is living in an area that is safe, “A healthy community” where neighbors watch out for others and all are welcome. 

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