Community Engagement Fellow: Targeted Approaches in Collective Action and Civic Engagement

Host: Reinvent South Stockton Coalition, a project of Tides Center
Openings: 1
Project Focus: Public Health
Skills Needed: Community Engagement, Relationship Management, Community Outreach, Stakeholder Engagement,

Remote or On-Site Placement

Hybrid – RSSC has a Hybrid Work Policy that requires all full-time staff and Fellow(s) to work from the RSSC office at least two days per week and, if approved, may work remotely three days each week. All team members are expected to participate in the weekly Team Meeting in person on Tuesdays at 11:00am.

Service Needs & Plans

The Reinvent South Stockton Coalition (RSSC) is a multi-sector, collective impact initiative working toward a future where all South Stockton residents are empowered to transform their community and address the root causes of intergenerational poverty through improvements in safety and community trust, education, housing, job creation, economic development, and health. RSSC serves as the backbone organization for a collective impact initiative serving South Stockton and San Joaquin County by convening and coordinating partners; increasing partners’ capacity; aligning resources, strategies, and incentives; and engaging residents to promote systems change.

The Community Engagement Fellow will be placed within RSSC in order to build the capacity of San Joaquin County Public Health Services (PHS) and implement the recent San Joaquin County 2023-2025 Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). The CHIP designates Mental Health as the highest-priority health need for San Joaquin County and identifies an overall strategy to “make parks in Priority Neighborhoods appealing and easy to use to create equitable and safe opportunities to improve physical, mental, and community well being.”

Roughly bounded by the old “redlines” that defined where immigrant, low-income, and farmworker families were allowed to reside in the City – and which also kept out private and public investment – these neighborhoods have endured disinvestment and lack of access to resources for generations. South Stockton and Downtown Stockton, which is home to roughly 100,000 residents, includes 7 of the 16 Priority Neighborhoods identified by the San Joaquin County 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) that suffer the largest burden of disease and have the lowest rankings in root causes of health on the California Healthy Places Index. The impact of this history is profoundly illustrated by the 20.5-year difference in life expectancy of South Stockton Census tracts when compared to more affluent areas just 3-4 miles to the north within the city.

Like many areas historically underserved by institutions, South Stockton residents became disconnected and distrustful of the systems and services that are supposed to serve them. This includes PHS and RSSC, which were both unable to hold many in-person gatherings and meetings during the pandemic. The Community Engagement Fellow will help both agencies and the coalition wide to better connect and engage with the communities that they serve.

Project Description

The goals of this project are:
1) Provide strategic approaches to community engagement in Stockton, through research, active field work, and event participation within RSSC and PHS guidance and needs;
2) Build bridges between public agencies and residents so that residents’ social and health needs are better understood and addressed;
3) Improve the quality of life for residents of South Stockton and Downtown Stockton, including their safety, health, access to resources, and social cohesion.

Coming out of the pandemic lockdowns and with a new, dynamic Executive Director who grew up in the South Stockton community, RSSC has dedicated itself to re-engaging with residents in their neighborhoods and parks. We will show up for our community through a visible presence at their barbecues, celebrations, fundraisers, and carnivals – bringing resources, food, and fun with us. RSSC is also ramping up our own events by planning and implementing park beautification volunteer days, health resource fairs, school supply giveaways, and more. In October 2023, we had our first South Stockton Resident Summit since 2016.

During 2023 and 2024, our We Outside Campaign brought in many diverse events like barbecues, movie nights at local packs offered to South Stockton families as safe and fun activities in their community despite the fear that comes during dangerous crime cycles. During the upcoming year, the Fellow will help us to plan and implement new outreach events and resource fairs, while also representing RSSC at community events planned by our partners.

Through this work, the Fellow will help RSSC to connect with South Stockton residents, build trust, provide resources and information, and engage them with our ongoing efforts to increase community health and wealth. We will also bring more residents out into parks and community centers, encouraging them to spend more time outdoors and with neighbors – both important contributors to physical and mental health. Through these efforts, we will meet the goals of San Joaquin County Public Health Services (PHS), the Countywide Community Health Improvement Plan, and RSSC.

The Community Engagement Fellow will work with RSSC and PHS leadership to identify the most important needs and gaps in RSSC’s outreach and engagement efforts. The Fellow will expand on the duties and responsibilities of the previous Fellow in research and guidance in gaps for outreach and engagement in the coalition and to the public. This Fellow’s responsibilities will include:

  • Be a positive representative for RSSC at community events, including preparation, set-up, event execution, and tear-down as needed;
  • Research strategic approaches to community engagement with active participation, data collection and feedback analysis;
  • Lead planning for at least 5 community engagement events during the Fellowship year by convening partners and staff, establishing goals and budget, finding locations, and developing and implementing marketing and outreach strategies;
  • Work with RSSC’s Outreach Coordinator and Communications & Storytelling Manager to create marketing materials, including flyers, social media posts, signage, programs etc.;
  • Support Outreach Coordinator with event committees through scheduling meetings, developing facilitation plans, recording and sharing notes, and communicating key updates; and
  • Support Outreach Coordinator with communication and coordination with event vendors

By the end of the Fellowship year, the desired project outcomes are:
~Summary of needs assessment for best practices and approaches in community engagement
~Have at least 5 events or action items with community engagement on a regular basis, either monthly, seasonally, completed with the Fellow as lead organizer;
~Final impact report that uses qualitative and quantitative data to demonstrate achievements made.

Desired Skills

RSSC is seeking a Fellow who is committed to racial equity, social justice, and community building. We strive to create spaces and solutions that bring equity, justice, and healing to South Stockton. These values, along with trust, transparency, and accountability, are extremely important to our organization and our stakeholders.

Because this Fellowship will include extensive community outreach and engagement, the Fellow will need to be outgoing and prepared to engage with diverse community members who may have very different backgrounds and life experiences from them. The skills and traits we are looking for in a Fellow include: effective communication, active listening, research and writing, meeting agenda creation and facilitation, project management, organization, flexibility, follow-through, and being able to work both in a team and independently. This work will also require data collection and analysis. Candidates must be able to work closely with people of all backgrounds with respect and empathy. Spanish language skills would also be very valued.

Professional or academic experience that would be helpful include Social Work, Public Administration, Public Health, Community Development, Sociology, Education, Community Organizing, and/or Business Administration, though no particular degree is required.

Organization & Workplace Highlights

Reinvent South Stockton Coalition is a nonprofit organization with a current team of 6 staff members (this number will likely grow as the Fellowship year begins). Our coalition includes more than 60 community-based organizations, government agencies, and grassroots leaders, and addresses community needs across mental health, physical health, environmental justice, housing, education, jobs, and more. Because our work is intersectional and we use a collective impact approach, we are a highly collaborative team and we work together often. We meet weekly in person to coordinate projects, connect regularly with community partners, and hold regular coalition workgroup meetings in person and on Zoom. Our office is located in Downtown Stockton and is accessible seven days per week. We have implemented a Hybrid Work Policy where all team members are required to work from the office at least two days each week.

RSSC is committed to racial justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. Our work is focused on the area of Stockton that was historically redlined and is now racially segregated and under-invested compared to other parts of the city. We work through a collective impact model where people with lived experience and shared values are empowered to drive our agenda and decide what activities we prioritize. Our ultimate goal is to empower residents to change the systems that have created and still perpetuate racial discrimination and inequities for marginalized communities.

Working with RSSC is an opportunity for Fellows to get firsthand experience in neighborhood-based community empowerment, collective impact models, and results-based accountability. Tackling big structural issues like racial justice, health equity, and the wealth gap requires these innovative, data-driven, and collaborative approaches. Our projects and initiatives include a wide range of partners such as community-based organizations, government agencies, school district leaders, health clinics and public health officials, resident and business associations, universities and research teams, policy and advocacy organizations, and philanthropic funders. The Fellow should be comfortable in a collaborative and inclusive environment.

Community Highlights

Stockton, California is a diverse city with a variety of cultures. In 2018, U.S. News and World Report named Stockton the most racially diverse large city in the United States, with people of color making up 78% of the population. We have lots of cultural activities and events along with religious temples and churches all over the city and city limits, from the Asparagus Festival, Flavor Fest, Cinco De Mayo, San Joaquin County Fair, and much more.

South Stockton, the area of San Joaquin County most impacted by disinvestment, redlining, and poverty, is also the historic hub of Filipinx, Latine, Southeast Asian, and African-American communities in San Joaquin County. Today, more than 68% of residents are Latine.

However, Stockton also has racial disparities linked to health, economic measures, concentrated poverty, and higher crime rates. Some say these disparities are the result of public disinvestment in south Stockton and other racist policies.

The South Stockton community is split between many housing complexes and districts as the local language and discourses states. Many of these communities have their own specific issues, problems and needs. More and more of them are connecting to the city and local agencies, for resources and aid. This slow building of action and engagement is what brings people together and helps to mitigate and discover possible resolutions to ongoing systemic problems. Local parks works have been in play to remodel and rebuild needed and necessary green and outdoor spaces in South Stockton and more reach is needed for parks action and for its facilitation.

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