Suisun City is a small city of approximately 28,000 residents located in Solano County, CA. It is demographically diverse with large Latino/a, African American, Pacific Islander, and Native American populations. Solano County Public Health (Vibe Solano) promotes health and wellness through funding, programs, and services. The City faces many public health challenges, including some of the highest rates in the State of diabetes, obesity, and smoking. Although community members were interested in organizing and innovating for better health outcomes, they lacked the necessary leadership skills to pursue these aspirations. With support from Solano County Public Health (Vibe Solano), the City worked collaboratively with Michael Baker International and CivicMakers to develop a series of initiatives focused on environmental improvements and behavior change to improve public health, including the Community Leaders Training Program.
CivicMakers and Michael Baker Intl. developed a six-month training program that included fundamental leadership skills, project management, and community engagement techniques. In addition to the core curriculum, the program featured guest speakers, including local leaders and decision makers.
The training curriculum included the following topics:
- Project management and budgeting
- Brainstorming and consensus building
- Identifying and applying for funding
- Recruiting and retaining volunteers
- Getting buy-in from decision makers
- Community engagement and outreach
Designed as an experiential learning opportunity, the training provided a space for participants to implement newly-acquired skills through collaborative project work. Small groups worked together throughout the duration of the program to design a project plan for a public health-related project of their invention.
Fourteen participants completed the training program, forming four project teams that tackled issues ranging from healthy food access to community fitness programming.