Lessons from SPI Local

photo of SPI Local Class of 2022

To achieve collective liberation through local policy, we need the strength of organized community power and active partnerships with our government leaders. I first learned this lesson years ago while working in the Civil Rights Office of my county government and witnessed the transformative power of community engagement in driving impactful policy change.

That’s why my experience as an interim Program Manager at the SolĂ­s Policy Institute brought me such joy this year. I had the privilege of supporting community leaders as they advocated for change and better outcomes for their communities across California. These brilliant SPI Local changemakers are leading us toward our intersectional feminist future.

Over the last nine months, they dedicated their time to studying local policy, engaging with coalitions, elected officials, and other advocates in their communities. The result led to big wins for alum who are crafting innovative local policy proposals, developing pilot programs, and redirecting public resources.

I invite you to join me in congratulating the 2023 SolĂ­s Policy Institute Local Alums!

The Los Angeles Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice team initially embarked on their fellowship with a strong focus on reimagining child safety and support for families facing domestic violence. They proposed the development of a domestic violence court but, as their understanding of their values deepened, they realized they did not want to contribute to increased investment in the criminal justice system. Consequently, the team is now devising a pilot program that allocates funding to community-based organizations, enabling them to support families in crisis.

The Santa Cruz Community Health team is leading a coalition of youth, ensuring that the voices of young people are heard in decision-making processes within the City of Watsonville. Their remarkable achievement so far has been securing a voting seat for a youth representative on a committee responsible for allocating over $5 million annually for community investments. Collaborating with our SPI team and their coalition, the City is soon hosting a Youth Summit, where a Youth Council for the city will be co-designed. When city leaders presented ideas misaligned with the values of the young people, the coalition stood firm in their convictions.

The Monterey County Economic Justice team, the only Spanish-speaking team this year, carries forward the work initiated by previous SPI teams, focusing on enhancing the provision of early childhood services in the Alisal Unified School District in Salinas. Their efforts led to the successful passage of a Resolution Affirming the Support of Early Childhood programs. Now, this team, alongside coalition partners, is shaping an advocacy strategy based on the lessons learned by previous SPI teams.

Drawing inspiration from SPI alums who played a pivotal role in the historic passage of Measure J in 2020, our Los Angeles Economic Justice team developed a train-the-trainer module to expand their coalition and political power. Their objective is to ensure that the LA County Board of Supervisors commits to a Just Transition—a transition that divests from carceral systems in LA County and redirects public resources towards creating jobs and systems that prioritize the welfare of our people, economy, and environment.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to support our SPI Local alum and the valuable lessons they teach us about how we change and transform power at the local level. Our SPI Local alum each embody the belief that those closest to the problem are the best equipped with the solutions we need as we build our feminist future together.

Please note: This year SPI Local paused fellow recruitment in Spring 2023 to assess and evaluate the program.

This work is powered by you.

The feminist future we are building together in California is going to be built by all of us sharing our time, our money, and our skills.  Please consider contributing today.

Together We Are Unstoppable.

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