Resident Leadership Academies

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Resident Leadership Academies (RLAs) are multi-week training programs for San Diego County residents who want to learn how to improve their local communities. Training sessions focus on topics such as community leadership, crime prevention and safety, land use and active transportation, and healthy food systems. Residents learn skills and best practices to address the issues that most affect their communities, and they work alongside their neighbors to help improve quality of life where they live. Upon graduation, attendees have new knowledge and access to a support network to help them lead community improvement projects.

RLA Updates and Opportunities

Many individuals and organizations are involved in Resident Leadership Academies across the County. The latest updates can be found on social media.

RLA Curriculum

Those who would like to facilitate a RLA can find the Facilitator/Train the Trainer and Participant materials below. The RLA Curriculum consists of a Participant Manual, modifiable PowerPoints, and various templates and handouts. The curriculum covers subjects such as Community Building Principles, Social Determinants of Health, Land Use and Community Planning, and more.

The County of San Diego currently has two approved RLA curriculums available. For groups funded for a particular RLA session or project, the version of the curriculum to be used will be determined by your funder (see links below). For all other groups, either version, or elements from both, may be used for the trainings.

  • 1st Edition Curriculum
    1st edition curriculum covers resident-driven community improvement efforts, including community building principles, neighborhood assessment activities and strategies for stakeholder engagement.
  • 2nd Edition Curriculum
    2nd edition curriculum expands on the 1st edition to include embedded activities, reflection questions and content on smoke-free environments and climate change.

RLA Resources & Opportunities

Bi-Monthly RLA Council Meetings
Meetings to provide additional training, discuss RLA updates, and to engage with other RLA practitioners. Anyone in the RLA network (graduates/residents, facilitators, CBOs and agencies supporting RLA) is welcome and encouraged to attend.

Technical Assistance (TA) for RLA Practitioners
TA is provided by the County to any RLA Practitioner involved with RLAs. TA may consist of assistance with planning of future RLAs, and development, refining, and implementation of Community Improvement Projects (CIPs), for example. For groups funded for a particular RLA session or project, the TA provider will be determined by your funder.

RLA Network Supplemental Training Workshops for Current RLA Practitioners
Supplemental trainings are available to anyone in the RLA network (graduates/residents, facilitators). These trainings focus on expanding leadership skills and offering opportunities for current RLA practitioners to engage with one another. The supplemental trainings may cover, but are not limited to, such topics as: Presentation Skills, Meeting Facilitation, and/or Applying for Resources.

New Facilitator Training/Train the Trainer Seminars
Seminar participants attend 3-4 full days of training, which consist of a detailed review of the curriculum, facilitation practice and tips for RLA planning and coordination. One or more new facilitator trainings per year will be offered through 2019.

Contact us for additional information on any of the resources listed above, or to learn about RLAs happening in your community.

RLA Success Stories

Thrust Into The Internet World, Ex-Prisoner Finds Help, Hope, Heartens Others

Post Date:04/17/2023 3:36 PM

Frank Perez and Robert SmithBy Laura Nott, adapted from a post in the San Diego Union-Tribune

Imagine a world without the internet. No laptops, no cellphones. A world in which online appointments or banking or weather or traffic reports are not constantly at your fingertips. Imagine coming from that world, then being thrust onto the streets of San Diego and trying to adapt.

Frankie Perez came from that world. He spent the past 40 years in prison, but when he was released in April 2022, he had goals. He wanted a career. At age 58, he knew he first had to get a grasp of technology. He had to be able to communicate and thrive in the digital age. His first stop was the Center for Employment Opportunities, a national nonprofit agency that provides employment training and services to those trying to overcome criminal histories and re-enter society. Perez learned how to operate a computer, and familiarized himself with Microsoft Word and Excel. He learned how to navigate the internet with Google.

Two months later he started an 18-month paid apprenticeship with Rise Up Industries in San Diego, a program that assists former prisoners and those with records in the criminal justice system to transition into the job market. Perez is training to become a computer numerical control machinist, which requires computer literacy because it is run on an internet-based system. Rise Up offers other services as well, including counseling and financial advice. It is precisely what Perez needed, leaving prison with dreams of living a good life on the outside.

“I’m really proud of how far I’ve come in a short time,” he wrote recently in a commentary published in the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Professionally, I’m learning and excelling at whatever I set out to do.”

Perez has even begun a second job in a machine shop. He plans to finish his apprenticeship at Rise Up, then get his certification.

“Eventually, I hope to purchase my own milling machine, pursue a contractor’s license and start a business,” he told the Union-Tribune. “While my goals may sound lofty, I have the wherewithal to make them happen.”

While it is often difficult for those who have been imprisoned to find employment and make a new place in society after their release, Perez has seen that there is help on the outside. He would like others about to exit the prison system to know they are not alone.

“I owe a lot to the people and organizations that have supported me since I left prison,” Perez wrote. “I can only hope others who are returning to their communities realize they also have the opportunity for a wonderful life.” 

For more information, visit the Center for Employment Opportunities and Rise Up Industries. Reach out to them if you or someone you know may be able to benefit from their services.

Read Frank Perez’s full commentary in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Photo: Frank Perez, left, and Robert Smith, San Diego County director of the Center for Employment Opportunities

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