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

Fresh Food Sales Grow as Small Markets Transform Produce Sections

Post Date:05/09/2023 2:28 PM

May News County Community Market Program 3x1


By Catherine Mahoney, Community Health Program Specialist, County of San Diego 


Many people in San Diego County struggle to not only find fresh produce, but also to shop for diverse fruits and vegetables from their respective cultural backgrounds. In an effort to improve access to fresh and affordable food, the County of San Diego’s Live Well Community Market Program, a CalFresh Healthy Living program, joined with small neighborhood markets (five in 2022) to provide more healthy options to their customers.  

“Thank you so much for helping me transform my store,” said Hector Salas, owner of Frutería Nayarit in the Barrio Logan neighborhood of San Diego, speaking about the power of the program. “All my customers have said they loved the new produce section and have bought more fruits and vegetables because of it.” 

Small neighborhood markets and corner stores are invaluable community assets. They contribute to an improved and more equitable food shopping experience for residents when fresh produce, healthy snacks, and staple food items are readily available. Through the Live Well Community Market Program, the Urban Food Equity team at the University of California San Diego Center for Community Health aims to support small markets by helping each market owner to develop a plan to independently expand and sustain their produce section by providing technical assistance and resources.  

Upon enrollment in the program, market owners learn about managing the logistics of selling fresh produce and receive resources and guidelines on how to stock, display, rotate, and store produce. 

Next, all five participating markets in the 2022 cohort underwent a produce section remodel, including the addition of more culturally relevant items.   

Market owners were provided wicker baskets, refrigerator bins, tiered produce baskets, price cards, recipe cards, and other supportive materials to set up, maintain, and promote their revamped produce sections. In addition, market owners were given marketing materials and Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) signs to highlight the healthy changes they made in their stores and to cross-promote purchasing healthy foods with EBT.  

Most of the markets were in low-income areas where a significant proportion of residents live more than a half-mile from a full-service grocery store. All participating market owners expressed interest in providing their shoppers, who mainly identify as Latinx, Thai, Lao, and Karen, with a wider selection of culturally relevant produce.  

All five markets have reported success with their newly revamped produce sections, with one reporting enthusiasm and appreciation for the 30 percent sales increase they saw in fruit and vegetable sales. 

For the long-term, the Urban Food Equity team will conduct progress checks and continue to provide market owners with technical support to help increase their capacity to sell more produce and introduce more ethnically diverse and locally grown foods to their stores. 


Are you a market owner who is interested in participating? 

Contact Elle Mari, Urban Food Equity Director at or visit the Live Well Community Market Program Website. 

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