Resident Leadership Academies

Share & Bookmark, Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option

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

Bayside Community Center empowers Linda Vista's diverse community through services, education, and advocacy

Post Date:02/21/2024 3:21 PM


Bayside Community Center - 3x1 Banner

Submitted by Bayside Community Center and Community Health Improvement Partners


On December 16, 2023, Bayside Community Center and the San Diego Parks Foundation officially broke ground at the home of the future Linda Vista Community Garden, located in the Linda Vista Community Park. This is the first-ever community garden to be developed in an existing city of San Diego park. This project is the first to make use of a 13-year-old policy that allows for public space, such as local city parks, to support community gardens. The turnout at the groundbreaking ceremony exemplified the community’s investment in the project, as well as the importance of the partnerships that made this project happen.

There were nearly 125 attendees, ranging from community members to institutional leaders, from elected officials to donors of varying capacities, from volunteers to government employees, and beyond. Attendees included but were certainly not limited to Community Health Improvement Partners, the County and City of San Diego, Parks and Recreation Department, Linda Vista Grows, the Leaders in Action, Schmidt Design Group, Local 619 Labor Union, Balfour Beatty, University of San Diego, San Diego Mesa College, Linda Vista civic bodies (Town Council, Community Rec. Group), the San Diego Foundation, the San Diego Women’s Foundation, Price Philanthropies, Social Venture Partners, and so many more.

Bayside and its partners will begin construction on the garden in Spring of 2024 and it is expected to take several months. Once it is opened, Linda Vista will have an outdoor classroom where intergenerational activities can convene across multiple languages.

The Linda Vista Community Garden will have:

  • A growing space for kids, seniors, and low-income families to cultivate their own food and to be self-sufficient.
  • A gathering space for community events situated in the heart of the neighborhood surrounded by dignified, quality affordable housing.
  •  A production garden where Bayside will grow hundreds of pounds of fresh produce each year that will go directly into the hands of our food-insecure neighbors at Bayside’s weekly food distributions.

In a neighborhood identified as a food desert, this garden will exemplify how to address systemic issues with sustainable solutions. It is incredible to consider the evolution from what the original Linda Vista Community Garden was and what the new garden will offer.

City of San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said it best: “This has been a community-led effort and it takes an organization that has the trust of the community to be able to do that. Bayside Community Center has been doing hard and important work in this neighborhood for a very long time.”

History of the Linda Vista Community Garden

The original Linda Vista Community Garden was established on Bayside’s property in 2011. The garden had 30 rental plots, which were utilized by the diverse community to grow their own food and be self-sufficient. Bayside also grew food in the garden, which was donated to the community or sold at the Linda Vista Farmers Market. It also served as an educational center for urban agriculture classes on growing, sustainability, and healthy eating, among other topics. The garden was then uprooted in 2017 when the building and property were redeveloped. Since then, Bayside has been searching for a new location to re-establish this community asset.

To give some context on the community, Linda Vista is an urban neighborhood where more than two-thirds of its 33,027 residents are considered low income, 50% of households in Linda Vista are considered very low income, and 11% earn less than $15,000 per household. This is a majority-minority neighborhood where 34% of the residents are Hispanic and 16% are Asian. It is also a USDA-identified “food desert” with only one grocery store, but ample liquor and convenience stores.

The Community’s Involvement

The calls from the community to have a new home for the garden were persistent. In spring 2020, the graduating Resident Leadership Academy at Bayside (RLA #10) identified it as one of their community improvement projects. That was the catalyst to move the project forward, even amidst a raging pandemic and global uncertainty. The graduating cohort adopted the garden and worked very closely with Bayside staff to find a new home. That search included conversations with the City of San Diego and the Parks and Recreation Department about the potential for utilizing park land. In 2020, Bayside was able to begin a formal application process with the City for a new garden at the Linda Vista Community Park. This was around the same time that the Linda Vista Grows Steering Committee – which consists of several RLA graduates, Bayside staff, and local residents – officially formed to guide the Garden’s re-establishment.

From the Initial Investment to the Groundbreaking

The next milestone was the incredible funding support provided by Community Health Improvement Partners and the Resident Leadership Academy Project Stipend Program Award – the first true investment into the garden’s re-establishment from an outside source. The funding allowed Bayside to contract a licensed Landscape Architect to complete Schematic Design drawings  and attend meetings with regulatory agencies to help Bayside navigate the early review process. Soon after, the San Diego Parks Foundation formalized a partnership with Bayside and the project has taken off since then.

Organization Overview

Bayside Community Center’s mission is to empower its diverse community to improve its quality of life through services, education, and advocacy. Its vision is a city where every neighborhood has access to abundant resources that promote community connection and economic self-sufficiency, expand educational and cultural opportunities, and facilitate healthy living and general well-being. Although Bayside serves the whole community, the overwhelming majority of its clients reside in Linda Vista.

For those interested in the Linda Vista Community Garden and opportunities to garden, please contact Amy Zink, Bayside Environmental Learning Center Program Manager, at

Return to full list >>