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SCOPEs novel approach to bringing neighborhood organizations together

Juliana D. Norwood | 10/17/2012, 5 p.m.

Like many communities across the United States, Los Angeles' inner city neighborhoods face systemic inequality. Residents living in predominantly low-income communities of color continue to experience a decline in economic and social opportunities, as well as persistent barriers to meaningful and effective participation in the political processes that affect their lives. SCOPE's theory of social change is rooted in the power of communities most oppressed and disenfranchised engaging as actors to win systemic change.

"Our economic and workforce development campaigns are designed to eradicate poverty by connecting low-income communities to quality jobs in regional growth industries, including entertainment, healthcare and, most recently, green building," said organizing director Dawn Modkins. "Our civic participation and voter engagement program is designed to connect residents to issue campaigns that hold decision makers accountable to their needs and to increase voter participation in low-income neighborhoods."

Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE) builds grassroots power to eliminate the structural barriers to social and economic opportunities for poor and disenfranchised communities.

SCOPE combines community organizing, leadership development, strategic alliance building, research, training and capacity building, and policy advocacy to pursue its mission at the local, state and national levels.

Recently SCOPE held a meeting for members from different community organizations to come together and see if there was a way to collaborate to better provide vital services to the community.

The call was answered when representatives from numerous WorkSource centers throughout South Los Angeles, the Community Development Department of Los Angeles, 1736 Family Crisis Center, Los Angeles Conservation Corps, El Centro de Ayuda, the mayor's office, City Year L.A., Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, Asian American Drug Abuse Program, and more gathered at the SCOPE headquarters to show their support for coming together for the greater good.

The missions that were outlined were: voter education and engagement, education and advocacy with decision makers, looking for new revenue to fund city projects and services, and alternative ways to project the work of these organizations to the community.

Many ideas were bounced around the room and a number of attendees agreed to continue future meetings in order to actively collaborate on city efforts, and matters most important to residents in a wider range of neighborhoods.

"The people in this room are the only reason that this recession isn't as bad as the one our parents had to survive," said one of the attendees.

Her energy and passion were shared by the other community representatives who were all joined in the belief that without the day-to-day services that they provide to the public, from work-readiness, shelter, and rehabilitation, to city planning and making public policy, that the community would be in much worse shape.

SCOPE has opened the call to other nonprofits and community organizations to get involved in the collaboration in an effort to expand everyone's reach, and to serve the public in a greater capacity. For more information, visit the organization's website at www.scopela.org.