The Los Angeles program includes Community Planning degree and certificate programs at LA Trade Tech, and a Certificate in Community Organizing and Social Justice Leadership, with credit towards the Associate’s Degree in Community Planning. These academic programs have a specific focus on supporting the career paths of men of color and low-income residents of color in South Los Angeles.
CDTech, the Community Learning Partnership’s core partner in Los Angeles, is a driving force for sustainable development in South LA. We believe that the college is a powerful agent of community and civic engagement. It is uniquely capable of providing students with the education, networks and practice that they need to be impactful agents of change in their communities. The student’s college education should provide them with the experience they need to fulfill their role as community, national and global citizens.
Our core curriculum includes an introduction to community organizing methods, overviews of the history of social justice movements and of community development in Los Angeles, media and communications for social change, the basics of raising money and sustaining a nonprofit organization, and a course on cultivating consciousness through self-reflection. Other program elements include paid internships, multi-racial/multi-generational support teams called familias, and a coaching and mentoring class. All of our programs are aligned with industry standards, and prepare students for jobs and lifelong careers.
We also support a vibrant Student Club in which students in our range of programs build their networking and organizing skills.
View the Community Learning Partnership profile on the development of our program: Los Angeles Profile.
Our program is a partnership between CDTech, which administers the program, and LA Trade Tech. More than 20 community organizations partner with us by serving on our Advisory Committee, helping with outreach and recruitment, and providing on-the-job learning opportunities.
Students began enrolling in the social justice leadership program in 2011. Since then, over 150 students have completed the program. In addition, over the course of 20 years, hundreds of students have earned degrees in Community Planning, the only full degree program in community planning at a community college. These academic programs have attracted a diverse mix of African Americans, Latino/as, and immigrant residents, as well as a broad range of ages, and engaged countless students in CDTech’s work, including groundbreaking efforts to forge community benefits agreements that reflect community needs.
Our social justice leadership students go through the academic program as a single cohort and gain additional support by being part of a familia – a multi-racial/multi-generational support team within the cohort. These elements build a strong sense of community. Students participate in paid internships with a community change organization. Through a partnership with the California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities Initiative in South LA, many interns are supporting resident-led organizing campaigns to build healthy communities.
To build the pathway in Los Angeles, CDTech is piloting a program to introduce 11th and 12th grade students at two high schools in South LA to the field of community organizing through a one-unit course in Social Media, Power and Culture. We are in the process of developing dual credit courses in community organizing and community development in additional area high schools. Our program is also developing pathways to 4-year degree programs in Community Development/Urban Planning with an emphasis on Community Change.
Intentional Leadership Development with Men of Color. A guiding value for the Los Angeles Community Organizing Academy is addressing the unique life and career experiences of men of color. A key strategy for doing this is addressing internalized oppression. For many students, this is the first forum in which they learn about internalized oppression and reflect on their lives, communities, and professional experiences in a broader social, political, economic and race context. Men of color students feel emboldened by the experience within our program and share insights into the unique challenges men of color face.
Familias. Learning from DeAnza College in Cupertino-San José, Los Angeles also groups students into multi-racial, multi-generational support teams called familias. These familias are charged with supporting each other academically and personally to thrive in the Los Angeles Community Organizing Academy classes and beyond.
Team Organizing Project Practicum Class. We provide on-the-ground experiential learning using a team-based internship model, such as interning as campaign organizers with the California Endowment Healthy Communities Initiative in South LA. Interns work on community resident engagement. We have offered some paid internships with funding support from the Community Learning Partnership.
Integrating Field Experiences from the Beginning. We are moving to incorporate more fieldwork early on so that as students are learning subject matter knowledge and skills, they can apply them. We made this change based on feedback from students who said, “We want to get out there sooner!”