Empowering Communities, Building Resilience

ResilienceDr. Jennifer Shea, Associate Professor of Public Administration in SF State’s School of Public Affairs & Civic Engagement is the Principal Investigator on the Resilience Leadership Development Program (RLDP) Implementation Project, which is being funded by a $75,000 grant from nonprofit Team Rubicon, Dr. Shea and a team of MPA students are working closely with the Neighborhood Empowerment Network’s Empowered Communities Program, an initiative of the San Francisco City Administrator’s office. The ECP is a leadership development program that organizes communities to work collectively to address neighborhood issues. It combines experiential learning with community organizing methods to advance community resilience. The underlying logic behind resilience is that if social capital and connectivity increase within a community, so too does its overall resilience capacity.

Dr. Shea and her MPA student team – Jeffrey Thorsby, Hafsa Khan & Yoko Shimizu – are conducting applied, community-engaged research to capture the knowledge that has been gained from the ECP’s work. The research will be used to update and enrich the ECP Toolkit, which guides community leaders through a series of events that supports inclusive, culturally competent, community-driven organizing and results in the development of a Resilience Action Plan (RAP). The RAP articulates the community’s vision for building its resilience and identifies a set of goals and objectives whose achievement support that vision. ECP communities assess their progress and revisit the RAP on an annual basis.

Once the ECP toolkit is finished, the team will work with Team Rubicon and ECP staff to model it and assess its effectiveness in San Francisco neighborhoods. Another MPA student, Amanda Trescott, is interning at the ECP and will also be involved in testing the Toolkit. Two other current MPA students – Kristin Barrera and Matt Channing – recently completed ECP internships and have provided the current team with valuable insights about how the ECP works in practice.

This work is rooted in a deep collaboration between SF State’s Institute for Civic and Community Engagement (ICCE), the MPA Program, and the ECP. For the past seven years, Dr. Shea has worked with ICCE staff (including another current MPA student, Jen Gasang) and ECP director Daniel Homsey, to place and advise MPA student interns to work with the ECP. In addition, Dr. Shea has played consultative roles regarding ECP program development and conducted conceptual and empirical research related to the ECP’s work.

You can read more about the project in this article: MPA team working to build resilient communities


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