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.
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
Unicorn Homes Create Safe Space For LGBTQ Residents
By Malaya Cilley, Department of Homeless Solutions and Equitable Communities
A young trans man whose family banished him from their home has found support and acceptance through a “Unicorn Home” provided by the North County LGBTQ Resource Center.
“My toxic family had destroyed my sense of self-worth,” he said. “So, when I was kicked out, I was completely helpless and alone. I didn’t have any other place to go.”
Unicorn Homes is a host home program that provides crisis and transitional housing for 14 days or more to LGBTQ youth who are, or are at risk of, experiencing homelessness. It is one of many programs the North County LGBTQ Resource Center provides to those in need. The ultimate goal is to reunite families and rectify the problems. Unicorn Homes also provides paths to mental health resources, job readiness, life coaching, and independent living skills.
The North County LGBTQ Resource Center is a nonprofit organization that strives to support, empower, and advocate for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning community. It envisions a community safe from stigma and prejudice, one that provides a feeling of acceptance and appreciation.
According to True Colors United, it is estimated that about 7% of youth in the United States are LGBTQ, while 40% of youth experiencing homelessness are LGBTQ. Family rejection is the No. 1 reason they are unhoused. In 2021, the resource center assisted 36 individuals with housing, six of whom were placed in Unicorn host homes.
The young trans man whose family forced him out said he was, “harassed emotionally and physically for not shaving, for kissing girls, wearing suits, and presenting as masculine.”
“I finally reached out for help,” he said. “I got another chance to make things right. I found myself humbled and overwhelmed at having nice, warm showers and a place to sleep. I can’t explain how positive my life has been since the Unicorn Homes program started. I thank the resource center every day for making the platform that I needed to shine.”
As it was for this young trans man, Unicorn Homes has become a safe space for many. If you or someone you know needs safe, transitional housing, please reach out to North County LGBTQ Resource Center.
Photo: From left are Branden Clemens, Jennifer Lanoale, director of Unicorn Homes, and Aerth Creature.