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

Saving The Planet, One Orange at a Time

Post Date:04/17/2023 3:51 PM

Women holding baskets of orangesBy Nita Kurmins Gilson, ProduceGood Co-Executive Director of Programs and Outreach

Go for a walk in your neighborhood. Do you see any citrus trees? They are all over San Diego, most likely with fruit ripening. Do you see fruit on the ground, rotting? Doesn’t it feel really bad, really wrong, to see that kind of waste?

That is exactly why Nita Kurmins Gilson started a grassroots gleaning group, CropSwap, (now nonprofit ProduceGood) 13 years ago. 

“I thought someone should be doing something about this,” she said. “When I couldn’t find anyone, I gathered some friends and family and started gleaning excess fruit and taking it to local food banks. Nobody in San Diego was talking about food waste back then, even though it was literally in their backyards.” 

Fast forward to 2023 and ProduceGood has brought the ancient idea of gleaning (farmers leaving some of their crops for the needy to harvest) into the 21st century. ProduceGood recovers excess fresh produce from backyards, orchards, farmer’s markets, small farms and local grocers (like Jimbo’s) every day, having recovered more than 1 million pounds of surplus fruits and vegetables and provided the one in four San Diegans struggling with food insecurity with almost 4 million servings of fresh, nutritious produce since 2014. 

More than 3,000 ProduceGood volunteers glean thousands of pounds each week and deliver it to more than 70 partner feeding agencies, including LiveWell Recognized Partners Jewish Family ServiceSan Diego Food BankFeeding San DiegoInterfaith Community ServicesBayside Community CenterAlpha ProjectCommunity Resource CenterElderHelp, and many  more. 

Celebrate Earth Month (and every month) by looking around. Look at the beautiful trees that grow in our lush climate. Pick some fruit from your trees to share with neighbors. If there is too much, contact ProduceGood, which can help reduce food waste and hunger by gleaning. You can help our planet and people in one tiny step, one orange at a time.

Become a climate warrior! You can help ProduceGood by donating your time and fruit. Learn how, visit:

Caption: Co-Executive Directors Nita Kurmins Gilson, left, and Alexandra White. 

Photo credit: Francine Kiefer, The Christian Science Monitor 

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