POSTED BY ANNIE SAWYER | Apr, 19, 2024 |


In 2016, SBCS partnered with the County of San Diego and Community Health Improvement Partners to invest in 15 Chula Vista residents who wanted to make positive, lasting change in their community. Eight years later, our Resident Leadership Academy has graduated 20 classes reaching 257 community volunteers from the often-overlooked communities of National City, San Ysidro, Otay Mesa, Imperial Beach, and Chula Vista.

Over 10 to 15 weeks, SBCS facilitators lead volunteers through a collaborative training program where they gain knowledge and confidence to influence local policies and enhance neighborhood health and safety. Workshops on the fundamentals of civic engagement, assessing community need, and finding funding sources all help prepare Resident Leader trainees to work with elected officials and community leaders and get results.


But the Resident Leadership Academy is more than learning how to implement change – it’s about taking action!

Each class creates a Community Improvement Project to address a real issue affecting themselves and their neighbors. They begin while in the training program and continue working together to see the plan through to completion after graduation.

Some projects that have led to meaningful neighborhood improvement include:

  • The renovation of Lauderbach Park and Eucalyptus Park in Chula Vista to improve community health and access to green spaces.
  • The installation of streetlights at Castle Park Middle School and other dangerous intersections in Chula Vista to boost public safety (still working on speedbumps!).
  • Setting up food distribution sites in Imperial Beach to help families facing food insecurity access healthy food.


Harborside Park in Chula Vista

A recent class of Resident Leader volunteers advocated for the safe re-opening of Harborside Park in Chula Vista, which closed to the public in August 2022. Starting with a listening campaign in August 2023, the group talked to parents, business owners, seniors, and residents to understand their concerns and needs. They found support from Mayor John McCann, County Supervisor Nora Vargas, Superintendent Eduardo Reyes, and City of Chula Vista Homeless Solutions Manager Angelica Davis, who elevated the voices of our Resident Leaders – and the voices of hundreds of community members they spoke with.

Chula Vista City Council approved $1.1MM to re-open and revitalize Harborside Park in December 2023 – but our Resident Leaders don’t consider the job done! They will continue to volunteer their time together to represent the needs of area residents as the project progresses.

Today, SBCS Resident Leader volunteers from all graduating classes meet every third Thursday to continue investing in their neighborhoods and each another.

See full article here.


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