The El Cajon Collaborative is one of the oldest and most well-established community collaboratives in San Diego County. When El Cajon Collaborative (ECC) began in 1992, it arose from the 1988 New Beginnings program, an effort organized by leading social service executives in San Diego County to improve the coordination, cooperation and efficiency of services delivered. Since 1992, ECC has been building connections with community members, service providers, and residents to identify and address community needs, implement change, and build relationships in the community that lead to a healthier, safer, and thriving San Diego. ECC aims to increase pro-social activities for children and youth, increase community involvement through engagement and self-sufficiency opportunities, cultural inclusion and mobilizing residents, enhance preventative measurements using evidence-based strategies to create livable, healthy neighborhoods, and increase advocacy efforts to support policies for safe, fair, and affordable housing. The goals of ECC align with the Live Well San Diego goals of “better health, safe living and thriving communities.”
In 1995, ECC opened a family resource center called Little House, which serves as a home base for the ECC, and also provides satellite offices for multiple non-profit agencies that deliver a variety of family support services. ECC also operates a resource-rich website that functions as an asset for Cajon Valley Union School District staff, social service agencies, and the general public. El Cajon Collaborative has established a network of over seventy partners, including those strategically aligned with the Live Well vision, and has had success with community outreach, engagement, as well as gaining the trust of the residents of their diverse community.
ECC is leading the fight to end homelessness by hosting the ECC’s Homeless Services Workgroup for children, youth, and women, as well as the chairing the Access to Services Solution Group. In 2016, the ECC was awarded the HHSA Public Health Champion Directors Award for the Communities of Excellence Project (CX3), sharing the award with other San Diego organizations that helped bring forward improved access to healthy food, physical activity and reduction of obesity. This was a multi-year project that has shown results through education, policy change, assessments and advocacy. ECC has also led the Community Needs Workshops to collect information used to create the Community Voices for the 2016 and 2018 Community Action Partnership Needs Assessments. Carol Lewis, who manages the El Cajon Collaborative, is now co-chair of the Aging Communities workgroup for the East Region Live Well Leadership Team. She is also part of the Senior Transportation work group for the Aging Well Initiative. ECC has a long history of working with the HHSA-Live Well Initiative team. The coordinator for ECC has been participating in the Live Well East County Leadership Team since it originated.
El Cajon Collaborative continues to serve on the San Diego Social Services Advisory Board for the San Diego County Board of Supervisors and they have been contracted with SANDAG for the third time to ensure that social equity is built into the 2019 Transportation Regional Plan, part of the San Diego Forward 2050 Plan. The history with SANDAG and ECC has helped build stability in the program and guarantees that the communities of east region have a voice in the regional plan. El Cajon Collaborative has also facilitated and assisted with Resident Leadership Academies (RLA) for the past several years, with proven results and community health improvement projects. They continue to support RLA by participating with the regional RLA Council. For over 25 years, the El Cajon Collaborative has brought together members of the community, providers, and other stakeholders to collaborate, inform, and promote programs, activities, and resources.