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

Swimming Upstream Program Helps Young Women Navigate Rough Waters of Teen Life

Post Date:05/09/2023 12:58 PM

May News Uplift Teen Program 3x1


By Victoria Dumon, Programs Director, Uplift San Diego 


In 2006, UPLIFT San Diego noticed that the students who enrolled in their after-school tutoring program year after year, eventually became disengaged. It was important to find out why and to develop a program that could better benefit youth and keep low-income adolescents engaged in after-school activities.  

UPLIFT San Diego recognized there was a need for a youth mentorship program for adolescent girls and created the Swimming Upstream program.  

Swimming Upstream is designed to help young women navigate the rough waters of teen life through inspirational empowerment and life skills sessions over 4 weeks. Participants practice healthy coping skills and conceptualize their future goals, while involving family and friends in fun activities. 

During the program each student is paired with a mentor that walks the student through each of the program activities and helps them process how the information they learn can be applied to their current situation. The Swimming Upstream program has presenters from CRU, Mind Treasures, and two Live Well San Diego Recognized Partners STAR/PAL and San Diego City College. The presentations are designed to focus on each student’s talents and resources as positive protective factors against risky behaviors, as well as to reduce the stigma around mental and emotional health.  

Since program launch over 15 years ago, program participants have achieved a 100% High School Graduation rate! 

This year, UPLIFT San Diego partnered with Bell Middle School to deliver the 4-week after school curriculum to 10 adolescent girls. Administrators and school counselors at Bell Middle School were so supportive of the program that some staff signed up their own children to participate in the program. 

All students reported learning something new at every session and that their mentor was extremely helpful.  

“I loved week 3 because I got to build things with my mentor and best friend.” – Student Participant 

“The Swimming Upstream program was honestly really helpful in my opinion.” – Student Participant 

After the success of the Swimming Upstream Program at Bell Middle School, UPLIFT San Diego has secured an agreement with the San Diego Unified School District to expand this curriculum to other schools and age groups.  

You can join the Swimming Upstream interest list by visiting:  

Learn more about how you can make a significant difference in lifting young adults above social justice & racial equity issues by visiting:  

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