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2011 Grant Projects

In 2011, the Davenport Institute offered a total of approximately $50,000 to fund professional consultants to work with four grantees on facilitated public forums. Consultants worked with grantees to design public sessions and to facilitate deliberations among residents, stakeholders, and government representatives.

For the first time in 2011, the grant awards also included training and consultation from the Davenport Institute prior to beginning the public engagement campaigns in order to build understanding and support for the civic engagement effort amongst administrative and elected officials.

The following projects were supported by grants in 2011:

1. City of Rancho Cordova - Growing Strong Neighborhoods

Project Description: The City's Growing Strong Neighborhoods (GSN) initiative was introduced in December 2006. Its mission is "to improve the quality of life in Rancho Cordova and increase property values by encouraging residents and business owners to enhance their homes, property, street, and community."

Prior to receiving the Davenport Institute grant, the GSN Cabinet had already developed, based on external research, a dashboard of metrics that could be used to measure community health. These looked at seven indicators: crime, schools, poverty/economics, housing quality, growth, transportation accessibility, and aesthetics and recreation.

As the GSN sought to encourage programs from both the city and the community to measure and improve such metrics, they sought to reach begin a conversation with residents. As their grant application noted, "It is vital that residents participate in defining and improving the metrics from their neighborhoods that they want. Citizen engagement will help us to better understand the needs of our residents in order to assist and empower them to improve areas of opportunity that mean the most to them."

You can visit the Growing Strong Neighborhoods website here.

2. City of La Mesa - Teen Services

Project Description: The City of La Mesa realized that, in a time of tight city budgets, it had focused resources on their aging population to the neglect of youth services. Wanting to remedy this, but also recognizing that budget limitations weren't going away anytime soon, the city reached out to see which services local teens themselves prioritized.

To do this, the City organized a Teen Summit. In preparation, teen members of the Youth Advisory Commission were offered facilitation training alongside City staff so that they could assist in leading table exercises with participants as well as in evaluating results of the summit and developing action plans based on those results.

Participants of the summit prioritized issues like bullying and peer pressure along with suggested solutions to be presented to the City Council.

3. City of Goleta - Land Use/ Park Planning

Project Description: When it came time to develop a neighborhood park in the City of Goleta's Old Town area, the City saw an opportunity to build community in a neighborhood that was, as the grant application noted, "extremely underserved in terms of open space and active recreational opportunities." The new park was to be designed by and for the residents of Old Town.

This was a challenging task, however, as the Old Town region of Goleta has the City's highest concentration of low-income and Spanish-speaking residents – groups that the city has had difficulty in engaging. Knowing this, the City made public engagement a priority, engaging a public engagement consultant to work alongside a more traditional landscape architect in the design process, which would include interactive workshops, charrettes and stakeholder meetings over the course of about six months.

4. City of Riverbank Local Redevelopment Authority - Land Use

Project Description: In 2005, the Riverbank Army Ammunition Plant (RAAP) closed after 70 years of operation. In 2010, the Army turned oversight for the closed base to the City of Riverbank Local Redevelopment Agency (RLRA) in preparation for a final transition from federal to local control. This oversight included responsibility for operations, maintenance and remediation.

With the closing of a military site come unique and potentially controversial issues. The RLRA wanted to ensure that residents were well informed of the environmental condition of the facility and that they had a significant voice in how the land would be used, including the development of an "environmental remediation plan" scheduled to be in place by June 2012.

In its grant application, the RLRA set forth three primary goals: First, the redevelopment of the site must be a community-led effort that allows citizens an opportunity to have a say in every major decision along the way. Next, public input was needed to create a fitting memorial to acknowledge and commemorate the history and past contributions of the facility and the many generations of workers who supported the local economy and the men and women in harm's way. Finally, the agency looked for input regarding the redevelopment itself – what should the facility look like when complete in terms of business, design and environment?