Local knowledge and support maximize funder investment
When The California Endowment (TCE) first came to Long Beach in 2010 with a 10-year initiative to build healthier communities, there was virtually no support system in place to make this possible. TCE needed help pulling together community members who understood the local Long Beach context to identify community priorities and develop a process to advise TCE on its investment. TCE also challenged the community groups they funded to work in spaces conductive to collaborative work that would help advance policy and change systems. However, there was no infrastructure in place to bring to life TCE’s vision for change fueled by the most impacted residents.
TCE established the Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach Hub organization (now Long Beach Forward) to provide the local support it needed to ensure its investment was coordinated effectively and that grantees were supported in their individual and collective work. This involved supporting TCE in convening its grantees several times a year and hosting community events that highlight the work of the initiative and engage residents to become involved. The Hub facilitated leadership trainings for residents and organizational partners and facilitated or participated in a dozen collaborative groups. The Hub connected grantees and other community stakeholders to trainings and technical assistance provided through TCE and served as a communication hub for stakeholders. The Hub also supported organizations and collaborative groups with their external communications - working with media outlets to raise the profile of community issues and solutions; documenting key lessons learned and guiding evaluation of the initiative locally; and more.
Long Beach Forward helped TCE maximize its investment in Long Beach and create a legacy for its work well beyond the realm of the initiative. With the support of the Hub organization, community groups and residents involved in the initiative have gained 21 policy victories to date and counting. They have also attained nearly as many shifts in practices and community benefits aimed at improving community health, such as training and placing 15 community members on city-wide boards and commissions. Today, Long Beach Forward continues to provide local organizations and community members with the tools, training, and resources they need to be heard, influential, and drive real change in Long Beach.