Partnerships Bring Promise to Southern California Community

Partnerships Bring Promise to Southern California Community

February 4, 2014 | Mauricio Torre, Director, South Bay Community Services

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With nearly 30 partners, Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood (CVPromise) is not your typical neighborhood program. And while the partners’ brands, policies, and procedures may look different, they have one collective goal: to support all children in the Castle Park community of Chula Vista, California, in achieving academic excellence and aspiring to college and a career track. As we end our first year of the program, we are reflecting on the lessons learned.

With nearly 30 partners, Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood (CVPromise) is not your typical neighborhood program. And while the partners’ brands, policies, and procedures may look different, they have one collective goal: to support all children in the Castle Park community of Chula Vista, California, in achieving academic excellence and aspiring to college and a career track. As we end our first year of the program, we are reflecting on the lessons learned. More importantly, we have many success stories to share locally and with other Promise Neighborhoods throughout the country.

Promise Neighborhoods is a federally funded program aimed at significantly improving the education and developmental outcomes for our society’s most at-risk children. Of the 12 current Promise Neighborhoods across the United States, only a few have partners and staff stationed directly on school campuses. CVPromise is one of them, and this collaborative approach has made it a model program that draws leadership from across the country to visit, observe, and benchmark.

Laying the foundation has had its challenges. All CVPromise partners—including nonprofits, businesses, hospitals, five separate schools, and two school districts—have brought their unique perspectives, expertise, respective brands, and ways of working to the table. It is an innovative cross-sector partnership whose membership’s goal is to work and think holistically, both in relation to the services each provides and in their relationships to each other’s work.

This year’s successes include the arrival of the first batch of college acceptance letters; families are sharing their happiness about these letters with teachers, counselors, and CVPromise academic advocates. The “Imagination Garden” at Castle Park Elementary school is thriving, with a parent volunteer group tending to seasonal fruits and vegetables daily and various preschool, elementary, and afterschool programs utilizing it for teaching activities and opportunities. With schools as their hub and support from CVPromise, Castle Park residents have begun walking clubs and neighborhood watches. New parent centers and literacy cafes at each of the five CVPromise schools have been uniquely developed to meet the needs of each school and its parents. And the work continues.

Passion for the work of a Promise Neighborhood is palpable. But, to succeed in meeting our goals, we need more than passion and success stories. CVPromise’s research-driven initiative, born from the needs and strengths of the Castle Park community, allows the program to establish accountability, continuously improve models, and monitor progress. Soon, the first year’s results will be ready so that partners can analyze impact efforts and develop a sustainable movement together—not only for our own community but for others as well.

Mauricio Torre is director of the Youth and Family Development Department for South Bay Community Services in South San Diego County, California. He will help lead an extended session at the NCCD Conference on Children, Youth, and Families on the topic of maximizing cross-system partnerships.