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

Current and Former Foster Youth Are Not Alone

Post Date:05/09/2023 2:57 PM

May News CWS FURS 3x1


By Elisabeth Handley, Public Outreach Specialist, Child Welfare Services 

Teens who have spent time in foster care have already experienced maltreatment, loss or disrupted relationships. To heal from this trauma, they need stable homes and living situations where they can develop and maintain supportive, consistent and loving relationships. Efforts by caregivers and youth to build strong relationships can quickly derail when they face barriers to accessing crucial community-based, trauma-informed support during critical moments.  

That’s where the Family Urgent Response System (FURS) steps in. 

Administered by Child Welfare Services in San Diego, FURS is a statewide hotline designed to provide youth currently or formerly in foster care and their caregivers immediate trauma-informed support when issues big or small arise.  

“I was so pleased with FURS’ service,” said one long-term caregiver. “The counselor was so reassuring. She questioned me about the situation and guided me as I worked with my foster child. She helped me find ways to calm them down to where they were no longer head-banging.” 

Children, youth and caregivers often report having trouble finding the support they need when they most need it, not knowing whom to contact during critical moments, and/or being turned away because their situation does not rise to a predetermined level of urgency. 

FURS provides free, 24/7 support, and is a safe, judgment-free resource to help youth and caregivers feel supported.  

Its services include:  

  • Free phone, text and chat support. Caring counselors are available to listen and help children, teens and caregivers work through any conflicts or problems they are having. 

  • Local mobile response teams are available to swiftly come to meet at a place children, youth and caregivers choose if they want in-person support. 

  • Help connecting to community resources for ongoing support after immediate needs are met. 

FURS is an “important and indispensable advocacy for caregivers and youth,” said one youth in extended foster care. “As the middleman between a youth and caregiver, it can bring unity and harmony into the relationship and resources to help both the youth and caregiver.” 

This coordinated, community-based solution helps preserve relationships, link youth and families to longer-term supports and services, promote healing, and prevent calls to law enforcement. 

FURS can be reached at (833) 939-3877 (call or text) or at

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