A Model for Community Engagement — Solving Youth Homelessness in South Los Angeles

Arti­cle by Grace Welt­man post­ed on LinkedIn Post­ed Sep­tem­ber 19. 2014

Peo­ple are your most trea­sured assets and resources. When you invest in oth­ers and work with them to devel­op solu­tions to prob­lems they expe­ri­ence in their own com­mu­ni­ties, they become more engaged and vest­ed. Effec­tive pub­lic engage­ment lead­er­ship in the civic and pub­lic sec­tor is not much dif­fer­ent from what works in the busi­ness sec­tor. Crit­i­cal steps to solv­ing com­plex prob­lems that impact mul­ti­ple peo­ple, orga­ni­za­tions and sys­tems include:

  • Edu­cat­ing oth­ers about the issue or prob­lem that needs to be solved. Pro­vide and com­pile data and research cur­rent­ly avail­able to help them bet­ter under­stand the scope and depth of the prob­lem they are try­ing to address.
  • Cre­at­ing space and oppor­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple to brain­storm and pro­vide feed­back from their per­spec­tive. Let their sto­ries and expe­ri­ences define the chal­lenges you are try­ing to address and the solu­tions need­ed to solve them.
  • Com­mu­ni­cat­ing and lis­ten­ing in a man­ner in which peo­ple are seen as equal part­ners in devel­op­ing solutions.
  • Con­duct­ing an analy­sis of assets, oppor­tu­ni­ties, gaps, and needs to bet­ter define prob­lems and tar­get solu­tions with mea­sur­able outcomes.
  • Pro­vid­ing prob­lem solv­ing tools, edu­ca­tion on how to access and nav­i­gate resources, and team build­ing process­es are crit­i­cal to help­ing them work collaboratively.
  • Pro­mot­ing reg­u­lar­ly the progress of the team and illus­trat­ing the val­ue of work­ing together.
  • Iden­ti­fy­ing the resources need­ed to effec­tive­ly solve the prob­lem being addressed.
  • Devel­op­ing an imple­men­ta­tion strat­e­gy that will pro­duce mea­sur­able results, pro­mote account­abil­i­ty, inspire oth­ers to be part of the process, and lever­age addi­tion­al resources.

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