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Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio Building Comunidad Initiative

CLUES will activate transformational change for Latino immigrants through investments in social networks of support and cultural engagement.

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, build leadership and power, and identify key systems changes. 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 • A Community Engagement and Systems Change Manager will work with community to coordinate convenings, conduct action cohorts, and ecosystem work • Consultants will support in organizational capacity building • 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.

Final Updates (*Please do not complete until we reach the Improve Phase*): 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)

The Expert Feedback Phase helped us to clarify some concepts of how we will be engaging and impacting community. Specifically, it helped us to narrow into our core goals of the initiative, which include: 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. Community building and connectedness will be at the basis for each of these goals, and will inform the process of engagement as we partner with community.

During this Improve Phase, please use the space below to add any additional information to your proposal.

Community engagement will be done organically and will include bringing community together to share traditional foods, participate in cultural arts, and to uplift one another. At times, this will include going to meet community where they gather in churches, their homes, or local schools to build trust and relationships. Community goes beyond those that we serve, and may include staff, volunteers, and others who want to connect to their Latino roots or with their neighbors. Individuals who self-select into joining Action Cohorts will be engaged on a deeper level to make change to systems that impact equity for Latinos. In the Cohorts, individuals will gain: o Knowledge around trauma, social justice, and systems change o Leadership skills including ability to articulate individual and community strengths and desires, increased confidence levels, and ability to build collaboration o Connections to network of peers and to people in positions of power This initiative will leverage the expansion of our current headquarters office- a 20,000 square foot addition planned to break ground in August 2018. The new space will serve as a hub and gathering place for Latinos and will provide new opportunities for community engagement and leadership. CLUES is also working with neighborhood partners to create a Latino Cultural Corridor on the East Side of St. Paul- to expand the sense of belonging and to create additional opportunities for investment in small business development among Latinos.

Note that you may also edit any of your previous answers within the proposal. Here is a great place to note any big final changes or iterations you have made to your proposal below:

Please see changes to the "Explain your project idea" section below.

Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Immigrants strengthen the fabric of who we are as a country. 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 connect to opportunities. It is our goal to make a change to the status quo and to intentionally address fear and isolation head-on, by shifting social capital as a priority area for investment. CLUES will do so by creating safe spaces and informal networks of support 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. 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 doing so, we will: 1) Change narratives by building hope and lifting voices. Community will be engaged in meaningful dialogues and cultural arts to share their stories with one another and to impact the broader dominant narratives about immigrants. Voices will be lifted via film, media, and other art forms. 2) Create pathways towards socio-economic mobility. Community will support one another to achieve their goals through tandas (lending circles) - a cultural practice of saving money in community with others (with credit building potential) - and by serving as resources for one another for child care, job leads, and kinship. 3) Change systems to promote equity. 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 via changes to policies and practices.

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), Minnesota, 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 Carolyn Roby

Greetings Enrique,  regarding the questions you have.   You are absolutely correct that this work is long-term and difficult to measure but I think you already have the framework for measuring strategies which you believe will lead to the long-term impact you are seeking.  The three bullet points in your first paragraph indicate to me that these are critical indicators of success: 1) "build hope and lift voices" - be clear about where and how people will lift up their voices (you have an example in your Sample User Map) track progress for each of your participants, 2) "create pathways towards socio-economic mobility"- describe the socio-economic mobility that people are achieving along the way and number of people who have progressed, e.g. wages at beginning of process and wages at end, 3) "Change Systems to promote cultural engagement and equity"- describe the evidence and steps that will help you to know cultural engagement and equity are being achieved.    By taking the goals you have outlined at the beginning and making the process for achieving them tangible it will help you know if you will reach your overarching objective.    Question 3:  Build a Framework that is Flexible:   You may need to think of ways other than group meetings to stay connected.   consider meeting in people's homes, meeting in places where families gather- parks, playgrounds, etc.   Provide staff with technology that allows them to be mobile such as Ipads or tablets. 
Thank you for the work you are doing in the community!

Photo of Enrique Olivarez

Thank you Carolyn for your thoughts and feedback. This is very helpful.

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