Transformation Tuesday: Engaging Underserved Populations with State Parks

We are excited with the continued support of the Governor and the Administration in helping us transform California State Parks. Bold steps are being taken to not only improve state parks, but also to modernize it and make it more accessible to broader audiences.
The Governor’s 2016/17 proposed budget plan includes $589 million ($117.5 million General Fund) for California State Parks. Some of this funding, totaling $690,000, has been proposed to develop and implement an innovative outreach and engagement demonstration project – Community Liaison Pilot Project.
The proposed project serves as a major component and integral part of an initiative from the Transformation Relevancy Committee – “Engaging Underserved Populations with State Parks”. This initiative will engage underserved and underrepresented communities from two of the largest urban population centers in the state – Candlestick State Park (Bay Area) and Los Angeles State Historic Park.
Some deliverables from this initiative include:
·         Bridging the gap for a large number of Californians in underserved communities with unequal access to the state park system.
·         Emphasizes the co-production of programming with the community and non-traditional partners rather than for the community.
·         Establishes partnerships with public health organizations to develop a strategic planning process for the incorporation of public health messaging and public health-related programming at the park unit level.
The project will build upon the combined skill set and strengths of the core partners to conduct outreach to and meaningfully engage local community members in culturally relevant, language accessible programming that integrates the assets and experiences of the target audience. Experience has demonstrated the efficacy of engaging hard to reach populations through partnerships with schools, community based organizations, faith-based institution and the offices of elected representatives among others.
Drawing inspiration from the public health promotora or community outreach work model, the proposed project will hire and train local residents as parkpromotoras to conduct specialized outreach to their peers. Outreach activities will simultaneously address the needs and characteristics of the target audience communities while functioning effectively within the operating parameters of the State Park system. 
Measures of success of the proposed demonstration project include, but are not limited to:
  • Repeat visitation of program participants to state park system units.
  • Initiation of a stewardship and work force pipeline that will culminate in the next generation of environmental leaders and a more diverse State Park staff.
  • Increased recognition of the department as a civic and community leader in the target areas.
This initiative is an example of how State Parks will engage the power of partnerships, philanthropy and volunteerism on a larger scale. Through such relationships, we can broaden our impact with greater resources and enhanced services.

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