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Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio Strategy for Deeper Engagement

CLUES will activate transformational change through investments in social networks of support and social connections.

Photo of Enrique  Olivarez
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*Please Upload User Experience Map (as attachment) and any additional insights gathered from Beneficiary Feedback in this field

Attached is a sample user map of how an individual could engage in this effort. This is one of many different circumstances and priority areas that individuals will be a part of impacting.

Why does the target community define this problem as urgent and/or a priority? How is the idea leveraging and empowering community assets to help create an environment for success? (1000 characters)

Today’s political environment, anti-immigrant sentiment and overt attacks against the safety and wellbeing of our community have taken a significant toll on our emotional wellbeing and opportunities for prosperity. Community listening sessions have highlighted the need for community building, healing, opportunities, and change making.
Our focus on community building comes entirely from deep cultural values and ways of being. Latinos place upmost importance on personal relationships and operate with an understanding of our innate interconnectedness. As we reflected on our work, we found great opportunities to build upon this community strength by investing in relationship-building and cultural engagement as a path towards healing social and economic trauma and fostering empowerment. Together, we will: 1) change narratives by building hope and lifting voices, 2) create pathways towards socio-economic mobility, and 3) change systems to promote cultural engagement and equity.

How does the idea fit within the larger ecosystem that surrounds it? Urgent needs are usually a symptom of a larger issue that rests within multiple interrelated symptoms - share what you know about the context surrounding the problem you are aiming to solve. (500 characters)

Today’s political environment has created disruptive systems that have led to heightened fear, social isolation and disconnection in our community. Our systems isolate us, separate us from our family and roots, and compartmentalize our lives.

Locally and nationally, Latinos continue to be voiceless and excluded from society and systems – keeping them marginalized and overpowered. Latinos, especially youth, are eager to tell their own stories that counter harmful dominant narratives.

How does the idea affect or change the fundamental nature of the larger ecosystem that surrounds it (as described above) in a new and/or far-reaching way? (500 characters)

CLUES aims to be a catalyst for participants to build broader community alliances and mini eco-systems that foster engagement, identity, and influence. Together, we will directly impact larger systems by leveraging built leadership and power to advance collective impact.
CLUES will develop and maintain informal grassroots-level and deep institutional-level relationships to advocate for and advance policy and practice changes and bolster an equity narrative (via social media, radio, and film).

What will be different within the target community as a result of implementing the idea? What is the scope and scale of that difference? How long will it take to see that difference and how will it be sustained beyond BridgeBuilder support? (500 characters)

Short-term changes will be demonstrated by increases in the following among Latinos in MN:
o Social capital (including across difference)
o Human and financial capital
o Self-efficacy/self-confidence
o Knowledge of social and economic justice
o Self-identified leaders/advocates for social change
o Systems level change
CLUES will also develop a tool-kit for how other social service agencies can shift their work into community building and promote this to other Latino-led agencies.

How has the idea evolved or responded to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase and any further insights provided if you participated in the Expert Feedback Phase? (1000 characters)

Our idea was originally developed and designed with user guidance and feedback that we gathered through a series of community listening sessions. The current user research will be used to refine the concept and strategize for implementation. For example, beneficiaries have highlighted that to participate in programming like the Action Cohorts, they will need childcare, and that if they will attend community building activities, they must be family friendly. These insights are essential to guide us throughout the implementation phase.
To ensure that community voices are at the forefront of designing and implementing this work, we will form a community advisory board who will provide guidance and recommendations for our effort.

What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years? (You can attach a timeline or GANTT chart in place of a written plan, if desired.) (1000 characters)

1. Shift internal mindset and practices 2019-2020: Conduct internal capacity building to create a shift in community engagement mindset and practices to incorporate community building as a complement to services.
2. Design and implement three Action Cohorts annually beginning 2019: Action Cohorts will connect individuals and engage them in building a collective voice to advocate for an intended change/outcome.
3. Design and implement activities that foster connections and cultural expression 2019-2021: Engage community as organizers of culturally-anchored community building activities, cultural expression, and creating safe spaces for gathering.
4. Build a broader ecosystem of support beginning 2020: In year two, self-identified leaders from cohorts will be engaged to expand collaboration with networks, activate cohorts and broaden their reach to strengthen the community ecosystem as it collectively builds social cohesion and connections.

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of roles and responsibilities for each entity). (Feel free to share an organizational chart or visual description of your team). (500 characters)

•CLUES President will provide overall vision, guidance, and leverage institutional connections
•Director of Strategy and Innovation will provide project oversight and ensure outcomes are met
•We will hire a Community Engagement and Systems Change Manager to work with community to coordinate convenings, conduct action cohorts, and ecosystem work
•Consultants will support organizational capacity building and culture shifts
•A Community Advisory Board will provide guidance and recommendations

What aspects of the idea would potential BridgeBuilder funds primarily support? (500 characters)

BridgeBuilder funds will primarily support designing and implementing the Action Cohorts, conducting community-building activities, and impacting the broader ecosystem. Funding will be used to support staff, consultants and community expertise, and costs for participant engagement and convenings.

In preparation for our Expert Feedback Phase: What are three unanswered questions or challenges that you could use support on in your project? These questions will be answered directly by experts matched specifically to your idea and needs.

1. How can we measure, capture, and share the deep value of doing transformational and relationship-based work through a social justice/equity lens? So much of this work is long-term and has endless ripple effects that are very difficult to measure, we’d love some guidance on how to do this well.
2. Are there other existing models at the global level on how others are focusing on building social capital that we should be aware of and can emulate?
3. How can we best build a framework that is flexible and nimble so that it embraces participant engagement and ownership, while also taking into account that many in our community are currently facing significant challenges in today’s political and anti-immigrant environment.

Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Immigrants and immigration strengthen the fabric of who we are as a country. Yet, the impact of an anti-immigrant environment is forcing many in our community to live in the shadows and in isolation. Latinos face limited social and economic mobility in part due to lacking social connections, effective networks, and proper channels to integrate and take advantage of the opportunities.
It is our goal to make a change to the status quo and to more intentionally address fear and isolation head-on, by shifting social capital as a priority area for investment for our community. CLUES proposes to do so by creating safe spaces and informal networks of support that can serve to build relationships and a sense of belonging to help people heal and feel valued who have or are experiencing complex social, economic and emotional trauma.
This shift is a recognition of the value and need to bring broader levels of engagement to the forefront-- action cohorts and networks/ecosystems. Action cohorts will engage community as co-creators and will move individuals beyond stability to leadership and enrichment. Engagement at the network/ecosystem level will focus on impacting change within broader systems, institutions, and neighborhoods to create an environment that fosters health and wellness across the social and economic determinants of health.
In action, this may look like:
1) Individuals/Families: Individuals and families begin with individualized coaching, support, and learning that empower participants to achieve stability and connect with opportunities for wellness and prosperity.
2) Action Cohorts: Participants interested in ongoing engagement will be connected to one-another and engaged in building a collective voice to advocate for a better life for themselves. Groups will be built around mutual kinship and expected outcomes
3) Networks/Ecosystems: CLUES will accelerate change through partnerships and connecting these groups and their agendas to the larger community.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

The beneficiaries of this project are new immigrant and low-income Latinos on the micro level and the broader Twin Cities community on a macro level.
Today’s political environment has highlighted that the Latino community is in dire need of spaces where they feel a sense of belonging, have opportunities to learn from each other, and build social capital to become successful in their lives. CLUES is committed to creating a future reality where supportive relationships and a sense of belonging help people heal who have experienced complex social, economic, and emotional trauma.
We will do this by creating a safe space and informal networks of support where people feel valued and connected, which in turn, will build reliance, hope, and empowerment for individuals and families to rescript their stories for a healthier, engaged and more prosperous future.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

CLUES Strategy for Engagement project breaks away from the status quo of how other human services programs work. Human Service agencies are often transactional in nature. An individual seeks support or has a need, the need is dealt with on an individual basis, and once the need is fulfilled, the individual often disengages from the organization offering the service.
CLUES Strategy for Engagement takes the human service model from transactional to transformational. The project will identify individuals to become part of action cohorts that will work together to solve issues that adversely affect the wellbeing of Latinos. Further deepening engagement and impact, networks and ecosystem change will engage organizations/institutions serving Latinos to collaborate with the Latino community at large. The project creates a continuum of support and impact stated simply as connecting people to people, people to place, people to process and people to policy.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Prototype: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

CLUES mission is to advance the capacity of Latino families and individuals to be healthy, prosperous, and engaged in their communities.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

The inspiration for CLUES Strategy for Engagement was the current trauma and stresses that have impacted the U.S. Latino population in the last two years with the recent uptake in anti-immigrant rhetoric and heightened fears over deportation. In one recent health and wellness workshop in rural Minnesota, one of our participants said: “No tenemos a nadie- solo tenemos a nosotros mismos. (we have no one- we only have ourselves.)”

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

CLUES Engagement Strategy is an intersection of Peace and Prosperity--Peace, because the engagement of people in learning, connecting and making change has the potential to create more peaceful communities via understanding and taking into consideration the common good. Peace is negatively influenced by anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies occurring within Minnesota and the nation (such as ending DACA and TPS). Fear often results in dysfunctional and stunted families and communities, and we believe that this engagement project will help to allay fear, which, in turn will create families and communities that are healthy and thus more peaceful.
Prosperity is also related to our project. CLUES provides services that, ultimately, have the potential to lead to prosperity, since we promote education, finding work with a living wage, physical and mental health, and family cohesiveness and harmony.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

In developing our Engagement Strategy, CLUES has engaged both community members and partner organizations and institutions. Latino community members across the life span have been engaged in listening sessions to help formulate priority areas of work and will continue to be engaged as co-creators in our work. The engagement is at the core of the work to build networks of support and connections among community and across difference to improve wellbeing and economic mobility. Likewise, community partners, including local schools and universities, churches, cultural organizations, advocacy organizations, the Mexican consulate and health systems have been engaged in co-creating our strategy for engagement. We will continue to work closely with partners as we move into impacting the broader ecosystem.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Some of our community’s core strengths are:
• Pueblo—a sense of family or community where we are all in this together and our actions affect one another
• Orgullo Latino—pride in our culture and history; in the absence of material wealth, Latinos have cultural, family and historical richness that have the potential to impact wellbeing and prosperity
• Personalismo—a sense that personal relationships matter and are important for social connection
• Resiliency and Resourcefulness

Geographic Focus

The Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul) of Minnesota, which is located in the USA.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

Twenty four months

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of Anubha Sharma

Hi Enrique building community spaces is a great idea, I was wondering what kind of a structure you were planning to provide or build into the system for meaningful exchanges

Photo of Enrique  Olivarez

Hi Anubha, thanks for your comment! We aim to provide safe spaces for community to gather and connect. We will promote meaningful exchanges in both informal gatherings through facilitated conversations and healing activities- such as engaging in the arts and cultural traditions- and in our Action Cohorts where community will collectively define and address local issues that impact them.

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