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Developing Resident Leadership Case Stories

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The following stories describe successful efforts by California cities and counties to inform residents about local government and civics, develop community leadership, and create effective citizen academies.

Case Story

San Bernardino Citizen Academy

The San Bernardino Citizen Academy (SBCA) is dedicated to educating citizens about how city government works, who the council members are and how City Hall makes decisions.  Participants get to meet every department head, elected officials and the people behind the scenes who make the city work.

Case Story

Leadership Los Gatos

A joint effort between the Town of Los Gatos and the Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Los Gatos (LLG) is a 10-session program for people of all backgrounds and interests who wish to become more involved in the community. Its mission is to engage, educate and develop service-oriented individuals who live and/or work in Los Gatos for leadership roles in community and neighborhood organizations, schools, places of worship and town government.

Case Story
Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge visiting City of Cupertino staff Erin Cooke and Laura Domondon Lee and block leader Mahesh Nihalani at the 2010 League of California Cities Annual Conference, where the program was awarded the Helen Putnam Award for Excellence.

Cupertino Block Leader Program Connects Neighbors with One Another and their City

The City of Cupertino’s award winning block leader program has been enhancing public safety and helping neighbors get to know one another since 2002. Over 350 volunteers have received training and support to become block leaders. The program was established in the wake of 9/11, when residents in the fast growing, increasingly diverse Silicon Valley community asked city leaders for support in getting to know their neighbors better.

Case Story

Cupertino – Citizenship Classes at Senior Center

Victor Wong – an exemplary volunteer – teaches citizenship classes at the City of Cupertino’s Senior Center operated by the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation. These classes enroll legal permanent residents over the age of fifty who are eligible to apply for naturalization. The eight-week course covers United States History, salient aspects of the US Constitution, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in the United States of America. The class also features guest speakers from the regional offices of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Citizenship.

Case Story

Sacramento City and Sacramento County’s Joint Citizen Academy

The Sacramento City Police Department and the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office jointly offer a citizen academy that focuses on the criminal justice system and related racial issues. Input from diverse communities determines the course curriculum, which emphasizes improved understanding and communication between law enforcement and the city’s immigrant and minority communities

Case Story

City of Santa Maria’s Citizen Police Academy

The City of Santa Maria has operated a “Citizen Police Academy” since 1994. According to training coordinator Chrissy Alvarez, participants learn about drugs and crime lab investigations, shoot at a target range, discuss gang activity with the gang unit, and even get the opportunity to ride along with an on-duty police officer. The idea is to combat misconceptions about police and police practices and to develop community liaisons for the department. In recent years, the program has been expanded to include a separate Spanish language course.

Case Story

City of Oakland’s Citizen Academy

The City of Oakland has offered a citizen academy for the past 10 years. Silvia San Miguel has managed the program out of the city’s Equal Access Office since 2005. As her office provides translation services to all city departments and residents, San Miguel has attempted in the past few years to organize a Chinese and Spanish language version of the course.

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