Launched in 2005, On The Move’s Neighborhood Initiative has worked to close the glaring and longstanding educational and leadership gaps between Whites and Latinos in Napa. OTM has led groups of Latino children, youth and adults to establish, design and grow the Neighborhood Initiative, tailoring services and delivery strategies to meet the individualized needs of the neighborhoods. Beginning with only a handful of participants, The Neighborhood Initiative now engages over 1,800 children, youth and adults annually as program participants, volunteers and leaders through school and community-based programs.
The essential programmatic elements of The Neighborhood Initiative are as follows:
Youth Leadership Academies: The founding project of the McPherson Neighborhood Initiative was the establishment of a Leadership Academy at Napa High School and Silverado Middle School in 2007. What began as a small program serving only 25 youth now serves 210 young people across fours schools serving elementary, middle school and high schools students. The project was developed to teach students the skills necessary to connect to, and succeed, in school, build their capacity as community leaders and learn and demonstrate the value of local civic engagement. After launching the program across 8th grade and 12th grade, OTM recognized that in order to have the desired impact on the students, the program must begin much earlier in the student’s education. In order to ensure high school readiness students must begin garnering the skills and knowledge in elementary school. For the past ten years OTM has worked to grow and develop this program to ensure the highest level of effectiveness. When the Leadership Academies began in 2007 only 7% of graduating Latino youth were qualified to attend a four-year university; today over 28% of Latino youth are college ready. The first year of the Leadership Academies, only 50% of our students attended college or trade school; today 100% of students participating in this high impact program graduate and attend college.
Family Resource Centers (FRCs): Once the Leadership Academies were successfully implemented it became clear that in order to ensure that the trajectory of a young person’s life is permanently altered towards success, the parent’s involvement in their children’s education is critical. In 2009 OTM convened a group of local monolingual Spanish speaking mothers and provided the coaching necessary to design and open the McPherson FRC. The project’s primary aim was assist parents in addressing socio-economic barriers that prohibited them from effectively supporting their child’s education.
As support programming was added to the FRC, the project Center quickly became the neighborhood’s hub for family support services, leadership training and the opportunity for broad-based civic engagement within their neighborhoods. During its first year, the FRC partnered with 429 parents and engaged 210 classroom volunteers. Over the years as the success of the FRC become more visible and in 2015 OTM created the Phillips Neighborhood Initiative with the establishment of the Phillips Youth Leadership Academy and the Phillips Family Resource Center. Today, the McPherson and Phillips FRCs engage over 1,600 parents each year through financial coaching, connections to a range of health resources, immigration services and parent education classes. The partnering of the FRCs and the Leadership Academy programming have resulted in improved reading proficiency, higher graduation rates and increased levels of family financial stability all of which have resulted in wide-sweeping increases in the overall health of the communities.
Citizenship Legal Services (CLS): Citizenship Legal Services is a unique collaborative, offering a continuum of services to help immigrants, living or working in Napa County, become U.S. Citizens who are fully integrated into the larger community. The program brings together critical partners from throughout the Napa County including legal aid providers, family resource centers, foundations and over 100 volunteers. Specific core partners include the International Institute of the Bay Area (IIBA), On The Move: McPherson Family Resource Center, Puertas Abiertas, Legal Aid of Napa Valley and Up Valley Family Centers.
Citizen Legal Services offers the following core services:
Free information sessions to learn if you qualify to apply and become a U.S. Citizen;
Free civics exam preparation classes for English and Spanish test takers;
Low-cost legal services, by attorneys and accredited representatives, to apply for citizenship and the application fee waiver;
Information and referrals to government agencies local organizations to ensure newcomers gain access to essential information and services;
Trainings to service providers and community leaders who seek to better understand immigrant integration and their clients’ immigration status.
Recruitment, training and supervision of youth leaders, interns and law students who conduct research, teach citizenship classes, provide consultations and assist with legal cases.