Find Out More

Frank Molina

Frank Molina

Project Manager, Community Building Initiative

(213) 413-4130, ext.247

Email  |  View Bio

In 2006, CCF embarked on one of the most ambitious endeavors in its long history: Concentrate philanthropic resources in one place. Engage the entire community. Invest for the long-term. Aim for sustainable social change.The result was the El Monte Community Building Initiative (CBI).

El Monte was selected as the demonstration site for this initiative after a careful study of 11 other communities that had high socio-economic need (e.g., lower educational attainment rates and household income levels than most communities in Los Angeles County) and historically lower rates of philanthropic investments than other high-need communities. Another consideration was that the fact that El Monte was undergoing a revision of the City’s general plan, presenting potential partnership opportunities with local government, nonprofits, the private sector and public agencies as well as community engagement opportunities.

Through its 10-year commitment of up to $1 million annually, CCF has invested more than $5.5 million to date resulting in increased parental involvement in public school education, college access support for students and more safe recreational spaces and playing fields for children and families in El Monte.In addition to the benefits it brings to El Monte, the CBI provides a learning opportunity for CCF and other funders on how to address the “suburbanization” of poverty and build both resident and nonprofit capacity in communities outside of inner-cities.For the first two and half years of the initiative, CCF supported an extensive planning and community engagement process that involved neighborhood meetings, resident phone surveys, demographic data analysis, etc. In 2009, the outcomes and priorities articulated through the planning process were captured in the El Monte CBI Strategic Plan.In early 2010, another round of community meetings was held to clarify a focus around children’s health and education.

As a result, the more focused overall goal of the CBI adopted in June 2010 was “to ensure that children and youth in El Monte grow up healthier and better prepared for school, college and a career”. In addition, through the initiative, CCF continues to support efforts to ensure that El Monte residents are better engaged and work more collaboratively on community problem-solving.

El Monte was selected as the demonstration site for this initiative after a careful study of 11 other communities that had high socio-economic need (e.g., lower educational attainment rates and household income levels than most communities in Los Angeles County) and historically lower rates of philanthropic investments than other high-need communities.  Another consideration was that the fact that El Monte was undergoing a revision of the City’s general plan, presenting potential partnership opportunities with local government, nonprofits, the private sector and public agencies as well as community engagement opportunities.

Through its 10-year commitment of up to $1 million annually, CCF has invested more than $5.5 million to date resulting in increased parental involvement in public school education, college access support for students and more safe recreational spaces and playing fields for children and families in El Monte.In addition to the benefits it brings to El Monte, the CBI provides a learning opportunity for CCF and other funders on how to address the “suburbanization” of poverty and build both resident and nonprofit capacity in communities outside of inner-cities.For the first two and half years of the initiative, CCF supported an extensive planning and community engagement process that involved neighborhood meetings, resident phone surveys, demographic data analysis, etc. In 2009, the outcomes and priorities articulated through the planning process were captured in the El Monte CBI Strategic Plan.In early 2010, another round of community meetings was held to clarify a focus around children’s health and education.

As a result, the more focused overall goal of the CBI adopted in June 2010 was “to ensure that children and youth in El Monte grow up healthier and better prepared for school, college and a career”. In addition, through the initiative, CCF continues to support efforts to ensure that El Monte residents are better engaged and work more collaboratively on community problem-solving.

Close
By late 2009 and the release of the El Monte Community Building Initiative Strategic Plan, it became clear that in order for the initiative to continue moving forward, a clear and focused set of priorities needed to be lifted from the more than 10 outcomes and 40+ strategies that were captured in the El Monte CBI Strategic Plan.One clear theme that arose during the community planning discussions was an overall sentiment that residents wanted to create a better community and opportunities for the young people of El Monte.

Goal: Ensure that children and youth in El Monte grow up healthier and better prepared for school, college and a career.

To achieve the overall goal and to ensure strong community engagement, the CBI is pursuing strategies in three key areas:

 • Improved school, college and career readiness;

 • Reduced rates of childhood obesity, improved levels of student physical fitness and access to affordable health care for children; and

 • Increased engagement of residents in raising awareness of and working together on building a college-going culture, improving their children’s health, and addressing their community’s most critical issues.

The El Monte CBI differs from traditional methods of philanthropy and grantmaking in that it focuses on supporting the collective impact of a diverse group of community stakeholders to achieve their common goal and vision.  For example, traditionally foundations will issue a set of grant guidelines.  Eligible nonprofit organizations then submit applications to fund their services and programs and grant awards are made to those nonprofits that demonstrate effective programs and services and serve the most vulnerable populations. With its focus on community building, CCF supports the collective work of a diverse group of community stakeholders and focus on the develop of shared strategies, responsibilities, data collection and reporting of results.  Along the way, the foundation and the community stakeholders make adjustments to their individual and shared strategies and responsibilities to ensure that existing programs and services are better coordinated and aligned and that gaps in programs needed to achieve the common goals and visions are developed, implemented and collectively tracked for impact and results.

As an example, when the overall goals of the El Monte CBI were adjusted in 2010, the foundation ensured that an assessment of the revised goal and strategies were examined to help the group continue to improve upon honing in on and adjusting its plans and strategies accordingly.  Copies of those assessments and evaluations can be found here as well as a “road map” that highlights the timeline and goals of the El Monte CBI.

As the CBI’s sunset date of June 2016 approaches, CCF’s investments will be focused on supporting the priorities identified by the CBI advisory committee, a collaboration of stakeholders involving public entities, nonprofit organizations and community residents. These investments will focus on:

  • Strengthening school, college and career readiness efforts identified and prioritized by the El Monte Promise Foundation;
  • Sustaining efforts to improve students’ physical fitness through seeded programs such as Soccer for Success, Healthy El Monte and children’s health insurance enrollment efforts that are administered through partnerships between the schools, other public entities, parent groups and nonprofit organizations; and
  • Sustaining and increasing resident engagement on children’s education and health and other critical community issues through ongoing public awareness forums and participatory workshops.

Given the limited time horizon and focus of the initiative, no unsolicited proposals are being accepted at this time. We encourage interested residents and nonprofits to contact:

  • The El Monte Promise Foundation for more information on how to get involved with the El Monte Promise Foundation’s programs at empromisefoundation@gmail.com
  • Our Saviour Center for more information on the El Monte Soccer for Success program
  • The Center for Community Engagement at California State University, Long Beach for the El Monte Community Scholars alumni network program that hosts the public awareness forums and participatory workshops.
  • For any other questions you might have, please contact Frank Molina, Vera de Vera or Kristina McGee at the California Community Foundation at (213) 413-4130.

The CBI can only be effective in accomplishing its goals with the help of partners in the community. Partners include the CBI advisory committee, city, county, state and federal governments, other funders, school districts, nonprofit organizations and individuals who all want to work together to address community needs in El Monte.

A list of CBI Advisory Committee members can be accessed here.

As mentioned previously, the focus of CCF’s investments has been to support work that focuses on collective impact. To date, of the $5,564,689 invested through the El Monte CBI as of June 30, 2013, nearly two-thirds (66.1%) were grants to nonprofit organizations, primarily for projects that involved collaborations and collective action toward the common goal of ensuring that children and youth in El Monte grow up healthier and better prepared for school, college and a career. Of the remaining investments, 31.5% has supported capacity building activities, joint planning and knowledge sharing between partners involved in the initiative as well as other organizations in the wider field that invest in “place-based” (i.e., focusing on a targeted community) grassroots and collective action efforts. A list of recent grants may be accessed here.

 
Resource Library