Help has arrived for California communities working hard trying to find solutions to local problems but frustrated in their efforts to get organized.
California Forward’s new Strategic Community Action Plan Handbook takes the best of community strategic planning advice and guidance from a variety of well-researched sources and distills them into an easy-to-read and easy-to-use reference document.
The idea is simple: a community or government leader at any level may use the Handbook to build a collaboration that will identify the community’s goals and lay out a realistic plan to achieve them. The Handbook is scalable, so a “micro” project focusing on one or two goals may benefit from it as much as a larger collaboration to create a comprehensive, long-term plan, called a “Strategic Community Action Plan.”
A Strategic Community Action Plan creates an environment for government agencies and community-based organizations to work together across sectors toward common goals, sharing resources and streamlining services. Collaborative planning on any scale has been shown to create a magnified collective impact and return value for the people who finance most of these services: the taxpayers.
Whether your community group is working to turn a vacant lot into a playground or you’re a business or civic leader trying to get more jobs into your city, California Forward’s Strategic Community Action Plan Handbook could be the perfect tool to turn action into results.
The Handbook pulls best practices from a variety of reliable sources, like California’s Institute for Local Government and the White House Council on Community Solutions. It also includes relevant, first-hand examples from California practitioners of this kind of planning, most of whom participated in the Advisory Group that directed the writing of the Handbook. Members of the Advisory Group are distinguished leaders from city and county government, education, and community-based groups. They represent constituencies throughout the state that vary in size, socio-economics, demographics, and urgency of need for collaborative planning.
The development of the Handbook was seeded in California Forward’s “Framework,” a proposal to improve results and accountability in California’s governance system. The Framework is the result of input gathered from a series of more than 60 public meetings.
The Handbook is intended to be a dynamic, living document that can be improved and refined as communities adopt it and share feedback about its use. The most current version of the Handbook can be found here. If you have any questions or recommendations, please e-mail me.
Teresa Acosta is the lead consultant to California Forward on the Strategic Community Action Plan Handbook.