2020 Healthy Kids Coalition Fund
Legal-name: Long Beach Forward, a project of Community Partners
Address: 425 Atlantic Ave.
City: Long Beach
Organizational-status: 501c3, fiscally sponsored by Community Partners
Officer-title: Executive Director
Mission: To create a healthy Long Beach with low-income communities of color by building community knowledge, leadership, and power.
Budget: $1 million
Title: Executive Director
Grantpurpose: The purpose of this grant is to support mutual-aid efforts to provide groceries, diapers, and early-childhood learning materials to families and caregivers of low-income children in Long Beach.
What-is-project: Long Beach Forward is supporting a mutual-aid network of several small, grassroots organizations and initiatives in order to provide groceries, diapers, early-childhood learning materials to families and caregivers of low-income children in Long Beach. This effort started at the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. The mutual-aid network helps to meet the healthcare needs of underserved children living in Long Beach by addressing food security, educational support (a critical social-determinant of health), and connection to a well-resourced network of information and support. While the bulk of the food, including fresh fruits and vegetables, comes in as donations, this project has ancillary costs in terms of recyclable grocery bags, beans to provide families with a source of protein, and gas costs for our drivers who are increasingly from the communities who receive support from this network. Families that are part of this network include members of Best Start Central Long Beach, the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition, Filipino Migrant Center, and other groups and communities most impacted by COVID-19 through illness or job loss. The network currently serves 500 families and has a waitlist of an additional 200 families that could be served with the support of this grant. In addition, it is important to note that this is not a food bank but operates on a mutual-aid model where those with needs are actively involved in providing resources, whether it’s delivering groceries or picking up food. If we can grow the project in a sustainable manner with this funding, we can develop an outreach program to bring recipients into both the logistics work but, more importantly, the long-term solutions to the issues impacting underserved children in Long Beach.
How-will-you-succeed: The goal of this program is to meet the needs of low-income children and families in Long Beach during the COVID-19 crisis. The mutual-aid network is currently focused on meeting the immediate needs of families impacted by COVID-19 but certainly the economic impacts of this crisis will be felt for many years. We know we are succeeding in terms of being able to provide basic necessities to families as well as to involve them in the work as they desire and are able which contributes to participants’ sense of community connection and wellbeing. If supported by this grant, success will be measured by our ability to support participants’ involvement by covering their gas and other expenses, an expansion of families we are able to serve, and the establishment of an outreach program to grow and sustain our efforts. We anticipate continuing to maximize food donations, volunteers, grassroots fundraising, and the collaboration of multiple organizations and initiatives for as long as it is needed beyond expending this particular grant. Additionally, we have been able to receive funding from the California Community Foundation as part of the Strong, Prosperous, And Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC) initiative for Los Angeles County and will apply to other grant opportunities that could support this work.
Who-are-you: Our organization was established to support The California Endowment’s (TCE) 10-year initiative, Building Healthy Communities, in Central and West Long Beach. Over time, we learned that the priorities of community members and key stakeholders extended beyond the strategies supported by TCE’s funding. In order to diversify our work, funding, and impact, and in anticipation of the early-2021 sunset of the BHC initiative, we knew it was important to establish an identity that is distinct from TCE. At the end of 2016 we embarked on a rebranding process that resulted in us launching our new name–Long Beach Forward–in March 2018.
For the past two years, we’ve also served as the support organization for Best Start Central Long Beach. The Best Start initiative emphasizes the well-being of children who are zero to five years old and their families through supporting collaboration between parents, community organizations, institutions, and others to improve policies and resources to better support parents and young children. In this role, we provide monthly meeting coordination and support for a leadership committee and community partnership of around 200 residents, stakeholders, and organizational partners. In addition to coordination of meetings and events, LB Forward provides facilitation, education, leadership development, communications, outreach, and evaluation in support of the goals of the initiative.
Whether Building Healthy Communities, Best Start, or any of the other smaller initiatives we support, a major aspect of our work is supporting collaboration amongst community groups to work collectively and share resources in order to increase their impact. This role is illustrated in what we do for the mutual-aid network. Long Beach Forward helped to provide the space (our parking lot), logistical support, and resources for groups who were initially doing these efforts separately to join together and increase their impact. Our nearly 10-year track record of working with and helping to coordinate organizations who work with low-income communities of color coupled our current efforts to support this mutual-aid network in meeting the needs of underserved children and their families makes us the right fit for this work.