CSBG Spotlight: Collaborative Leveraging to Generate Community Impact

— Edited by Rae Tamblyn, Research Assistant, CSBG Services, NASCSP — 

In light of potential budget cuts, the need to leverage funds is more pressing than ever. Collaborations between State and local agencies provide the maximum benefit to local communities through the smart use of all available resources. In a collaborative effort that lasted from June 30, 2010 to August 31, 2012, the California Department of Community Services and Development (CSD) partnered with the California Conservation Corps (CCC) and various Community Action Agencies (CAAs). CSBG funding was vital to this partnership, as the CAAs did not fully have the resources to complete needed projects in their service area. At the close of the partnership, CSD used CSBG dollars to pay the labor costs of 300 CCC corpsmembers at $18.77 an hour to complete community projects for partnering CAAs. The CCC provided the corpsmembers basic tools and transportation to and from the work site and each CAA provided the project materials.

The collaboration enhanced, preserved, or developed conditions in low-income communities served by each participating CAA that will directly improve quality of life. The projects also provided needed training opportunities and employable skills to participating CCC corpsmembers. Participating in the various projects, CCC corpsmembers gained hard skills like carpentry, masonry, re-vegetation methods, gardening, and building renovation. For example, members constructed a “living playground” for children participating in Head Start. Another working group converted industrial properties into a pedestrian-friendly parkway. This parkway restored 20 acres of native habitat and created the only parallel non-motorized alternative route to U.S. Highway 101. This alternative route will be an important access point for nearby disadvantaged populations. Yet another group enhanced local community gardens by improving fencing, soil quality, and irrigation systems. Equally important to the hard skills acquired, as the CCC corpsmembers worked with the various local CAAs, they gained the opportunity to be seen as wise and skilled enough to teach others. They now serve as positive role models to younger individuals in their community.

Source: CA FY 2011 CSBG IS Survey