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Kellogg Foundation partners with the Empowerment Congress to launch national leadership program modeled on L.A. initiative

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, along with the non-profit Community Partners organization, has founded a new, national program to be modeled on Los Angeles’ Empowerment Congress, the grassroots organization begun by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas in 1992 to help ordinary citizens engage more deeply with local and state government.

The launch of the Community Engagement Leadership Institute, which kicked off Tuesday and will culminate Saturday at the 20th annual Empowerment Congress Summit at the University of Southern California, brings together teams comprised of elected leaders, civic and business leaders, from around the country. The teams hale from the following locations: Hawaii, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Washington and Wisconsin.

The three-day institute is designed to help participants develop strategies to improve their respective community and public policy outcomes by using the practices, techniques, and tools that have been most effectively applied by the Empowerment Congress, the inspiration for the city’s neighborhood council movement. While visiting Los Angeles, participants will experience hands-on learning methods and create action plans to begin their own civic engagement processes once they return to their communities. At Saturday’s Summit, they will attend workshops on issues including safe sleeping practices for parents of infants, the impact of incarceration on families, and a youth discussion on heritage and community.

The Empowerment Congress is entirely orchestrated by community members who develop strategies to advance policy in their communities and improve the quality of civic and community engagement.

The 20th Anniversary Summit will feature keynote speaker Al Sharpton, actor and best selling author Hill Harper, and will be moderated by Which Way LA host Warren Olney. The program, which is free, begins at 9 a.m. and will be followed by a luncheon.

20th Annual Empowerment Congress Summit registration now CLOSED

Registration is now CLOSED. For advanced notice of future events, please sign up for our e-mail list here.

Serving the communities in Los Angeles covering the Los Angeles County Second Supervisorial District, the Empowerment Congress is here to empower and engage all members of our diverse communities to ensure our collective voice is heard by:

  • Encouraging and enlisting the full participation of our community to improve our quality of life
  • Educating and informing our community on how government works
  • Developing strategies that shape policy and legislation
  • Connecting our community with public resources

Founded in 1992 by then Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Empowerment Congress is a dynamic partnership among neighborhood groups, residents, nonprofit organizations, businesses, religious institutions, and community leaders. The Empowerment Congress served as a model and precursor to the City of Los Angeles’ Neighborhood Councils. It is now serving over 2.5 Million residents in the Los Angeles County 2nd Supervisorial District.

The Empowerment Congress is an ongoing effort in participatory government, founded on the principle that elected officials are most effective when the constituents they serve are actively involved in the decision-making process. After nearly two decades since inception, the Empowerment Congress has now expanded its programs and mission of civic engagement and community empowerment to the Los Angeles County Second District, which includes nine cities (Los Angeles, Carson, Compton, Culver City, Gardena, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Lawndale, and Lynwood) and many neighborhoods of unincorporated areas: Athens, Baldwin Hills, Del Aire, East Compton, El Camino Village, Firestone, Florence, Graham, Ladera Heights, Lennox, Marina del Rey, Rancho Dominguez, View Park, West Carson, West Compton, West Rancho Dominguez, Westmont, Willowbrook, Windsor Hills, Wiseburn.

The Empowerment Congress is comprised of nominated and appointed members organized to engage their peers in efforts to improve their communities and directly impact policies and decisions that impact the lives of all residents in the 2nd Supervisorial District of Los Angeles County.

Workshop Descriptions

Title: Affordable Care Act (ACA): How the 2nd District is Benefiting from Health Reform
Session Description: The Health Committee invites participants to an informative session on the newly passed Affordable Care Act (the 2010 health reform law) and its direct effects on the Second District. Local community experts will provide an overview and answer questions about the Affordable Care Act and the benefits that have recently become available to Second District residents! Special emphasis will be placed on the now available LA County’s Healthy Way LA (HWLA), a coverage program available for adults meeting income and residency requirements and who do not qualify for other public programs. Community residents will also be on hand to provide testimony as to how they have already benefited from health reform.

Title: Bridging Disparities in Access to Mental Health Services
Session Description: The Mental Health Committee will convene a panel of experts that will review disparities in access to mental health services, with special focus on the needs of our African American, Latino and Asian Pacific Islander communities of the Second District. Participants will have an opportunity to discuss mental health disparities in facilitated group discussions. Discussion will focus on mental health disparities as they affect historically under served ethnic minority communities. Participants will gain knowledge of strategies and resources to overcome barriers to access.

Title: Food Stamps, Safe Sleeping and Advocacy for Foster Youth: Making a Difference in Real Time
Session Description: The Human Services Committee invites participants to take part in a dialogue focused on finding solutions! Current economic conditions have impacted our community in hard-hitting ways. Loss of income threatens the ability to feed the family. Stress and inadequate living conditions may cause tempers to flare and potential harm to children. Workshop participants will engage in an interactive dialogue to plan and execute actual interventions to address these issues and strengthen families.

Title: Getting the 2nd District Back to Work!
Session Description: The Economic Development Committee understands that providing job opportunities to Second District constituents is a community priority. This session will educate participants on how to take advantage of targeted hiring programs for the following Second District projects: Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital and Multi-Service Ambulatory Care Center, Exposition Metro Light Rail Line Phase 2 and Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. Individuals will leave the workshop with a wealth of information and step-by-step guidance on getting hired through each project’s targeted hiring program.

Title: How to Reconnect: The Impact of Incarceration on Families; Is Realignment Working?
Session Description: The Public Safety Committee will present a workshop to encompass their work through the year on AB 109 (Criminal justice alignment) by discussing the effects of incarceration on families and how to help formerly incarcerated individuals get reconnected. The session will provide resources to community residents who have been impacted by the incarceration of a family member and help dispel myths or misinformation.

Title: Staying in the Groove: Seniors Living a Safe, Healthy, and Active Lifestyle
Session Description: Los Angeles County is home to over 1.5 million seniors facing common, everyday issues that can negatively impact their quality of life; the newly formed Senior Services Committee wishes to shed some light on these issues and empower the community towards positive solutions. More and more senior citizens find themselves victims of scams, abuse, poor health or feelings of isolation. This workshop will provide simple lifestyle alternatives designed to empower seniors to be proactive in living a safe, healthy, and active lifestyle.

Title: The Benefits of Going Green for the Second District
Session Description: “Does being green matter?” This session will provide participants with an understanding of why environmental issues should matter and will encourage sustained engagement on environmental issues. The session will demonstrate the many different ways participants can be engaged and active as well as showcase the social, ethical, and financial benefits of environmental action. Let’s take action – at any scale – to make environmental issues a part of your everyday life!

Title: The Empowerment of Art
Session Description: The newly formed Arts & Culture Committee will host an interactive artistic workshop, which will include a screening, performances, and a panel discussion that will illuminate the economy behind the arts and showcase how the arts educate and inspire our communities. The committee endeavors to introduce themselves, connect, and educate people about the arts in the Second District.

Title: The Good, Bad and Ugly of Government Realignment and Its Impact on Communities
Session Description: You’ve heard lots of talk about state and local government realignment and its impact on local communities. If you want to get a better understanding of how realignment of government services should work and the proposals currently being debated, this panel discussion is for you. This session will discuss California’s system of government and the prospects for reforming it. The various proposals for realignment of state services to local government will be discussed. In addition, realignment proposals that could appear on the November 2012 ballot, including California Forward’s proposal, will be discussed at length. There is a considerable amount of misinformation surrounding realignment and this panel discussion can clarify some of those issues.

Title: The Value of Building Community Capacity
Session Description: In this special session, nonprofit leaders, capacity builders, subject-matter experts, and participants will engage in a discussion about the role of community capacity building in the Second District. Topics include the value of integrating resources and how to increase efforts to support capacity building in communities. The session will address the role programs and services, that address capacity building, can play in producing sustainable and meaningful community outcomes.

Title: Youth Empowered: Celebrating Our Heritage, Strengthening Our Community (Youth Only, Grades 9-12)
Session Description: The Education Committee will once again convene Second District youth and provide a platform for their voices with a Youth Summit. This session is only open for YOUTH (grades 9-12). Join youth from across the Second District in an in-depth discussion centered on identity and culture. With an aim toward strengthening the collective fabric of our communities, this workshop will explore the cultural interconnectivity that exists within the Second District. With the assistance of trained facilitators, students will discuss and develop solutions for a more cohesive and inclusive Second District.

To register, click here.

The Natural History Museum makes history with first Rose Parade float entry

The Natural History Museum leaped into the New Year winning The Crown City Innovation Trophy for the “best use of imagination and innovation.”  The award came in response to the debut of its first entry in the annual Tournament of Roses Parade. The museum’s float, titled “Dinosaurs in Los Angeles’s Backyard” paid homage to Thomas the T.Rex — the long necked Mamenchisaurus — as well as the Triceratops now exhibited in the museum’s new dinosaur hall.

More than 650 volunteers decorated the dinosaur float with hot pink, yellow, and red carnations and sprinkled it with orange bromeliads, green Mexican papaya and green Egyptian papaya, the float celebrated both the Museum’s newest exhibit and original design when the museum opened- nearly 100 years ago.

Thousands of cheering spectators lined the 123rd Tournament of Roses Parade route along Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena, California to smell fragrances from dozens of floats, marvel at bands march in harmony, and see equestrians in perfect sequence.

Following the parade, the floats are parked along Sierra Madre Boulevard and Washington Boulevard in Pasadena for public display before the floats are dismantled by their respective float builders.



Free fares for New Year’s Eve on all Metro buses and rail lines

Leave the Driving to Metro — To promote a safe New Years Eve, Metro will offer a special free fare program for all Metro Bus and Metro Rail lines operating on New Year’s Eve. The free fare program will be in effect between the hours of 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. on the night and early morning hours of December 31-January 1.  Patrons boarding a Metro Bus, including the Metro Orange Line, or the Metro Red, Purple, Blue, Green or Gold rail lines during the hours designated will receive a free ride to their destination.  Metro is reminding the public that it is an option for people attending New Years eve parties so they don’t have to drive. Metro’s fleet of more than 2,000 buses, the Metro Orange Line, a dedicated bus transitway in the San Fernando Valley, and Metro Rail lines offer patrons alternatives to driving solo in their vehicles with convenient travel opportunities throughout the region.

The Metro Purple Line operates from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles to Wilshire/Western and the Metro Red Line from Union Station to North Hollywood in the San Fernando Valley via Hollywood. The Metro Blue Line operates from Long Beach to downtown Los Angeles; the Metro Green Line runs between Norwalk and El Segundo, and the Metro Gold Line operates between Pasadena and East Los Angeles.

For complete route and schedule information go to metro.net or call 323.GO.METRO (323.466.3876)

Remember to recycle your Christmas Tree

Residents throughout Los Angeles County can conveniently recycle their Christmas trees through January 16, 2012. All you need to do is place the tree at curbside on your regular trash collection day. Residents living in incorporated cities within the County can drop off their trees at designated collections sites or at curbside depending on the services the city provides.

Please remember to remove all ornaments, including tinsel, decorations, and metal and plastic tree stands beforehand. The trees collected by residential waste haulers will be recycled into compost, mulch, or ground cover. To view more information on the County’s Christmas tree recycling program, locate tree collection sites, and to see city-specific Christmas tree recycling guidelines, go to www.cleanla.com or call 1(888) CLEANLA between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday.