In 2013, in partnership with the Advancement Project, we launched this program. This multi-generational program is designed to aid grassroots community leaders in advancing their leadership skills in order to better serve their community. Participants of the training program attend monthly training seminars held at Charles Drew University. Sessions, facilitated by WCLO and the Urban Peace Institute (UPI), cover different topics each month with subjects ranging from computer literacy and public speaking to advocacy and community organizing. Training sessions are geared toward addressing real issues. After identifying these issues the group works on organizing their community and providing education and resources on how to become civically engaged to make changes in public policy, health outcomes, education and the environment they live in. Leadership participants then bring the work full circle by using what they’ve learned to aid participants in seeking viable solutions, while building the skills needed for effective leadership.
Most of the families involved in this program come from countries where citizens have little to no rights. These families don’t know how our system works or the power that there is in their voice and in their numbers and they don’t believe it until they see someone who looks like them achieve it. Our ultimate strategy is to provide them a space where they can feel safe and empowered to speak their truth, make their needs known and by engulfing them in a culture of leadership, motivate them and support them in cultivating solutions. Throughout the almost 30 years WCLO has been in Watts, they are the only agency that has aimed to empower the growing Latino community. In those years, WCLO has worked to develop a deep rooted relationship with the community and through those efforts WCLO has established a strong sense of trust and a close knit family, this is what makes WCLO the space that the Latino community in Watts needs to develop their own leadership and create their own representation.
That is the strategy WCLO has used to develop the strong Leadership Training program they have now and why they’re the agency families turn to when they are ignored, overlooked and/ or victimized and belittled- which happens too often.
From that first cohort, THREE were voted onto the Watts Neighborhood Council a year and a half ago (an entity that historically been composed of mostly African-American community members), one has been elected as the Resident Advisory Council (RAC) President at Jordan Downs for the past three years, one was voted onto the RAC board at Imperial Courts and one voted as RAC President at Gonzaque Village, and together they created the Watts Regional School Safety Collaborative to address the public safety of the youth in their community and offer them safe spaces to turn to if they ever feel they may be in danger through the Safe Haven program. The participants of this program have identified issues that affect their quality of life and have tackled those issues head on- from violence prevention to food access and air/ water quality issues. For example, these participants have whole-heartedly supported and participated in the process of the Transformative Climate Communities proposal that was submitted by the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) called Watts Rising. After a year of doing outreach to gain community input and support, over 15 of our Leadership Training members joined us in Sacramento, CA for the final vote on Monday, January 29th, 2018 and were finally rewarded for their hard work by the unanimous approval of these $35 million to come to Watts in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase our urban canopy.
Latino Leadership Training
Leadership Training Cohort in Sacramento, CA on January 29th, 2018 for the Strategic Growth Council Meeting to vote on the Transformative Climate Communities grantee