Leadership Long Beach Connected Corridor

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llb-connected-corridorEverythingLongBeach.com recently spoke with Carina Cristiano Leoni, Project Director of LLB Connected Corridor, via email. They talked about the inspirations and challenges of running a nonprofit organization in Long Beach.

How long has LLB Connected Corridor been around?

October 2007

Long Beach Community Foundation on behalf of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Citizenship and Civic Engagement National Initiative has funded the LLB Atlantic Corridor project, or as we more commonly call it the “Connected Corridor.”

The project is based on ReThinking Greater Long Beach data – a self-described, community-based, think tank that provides strategic census and social demographic information to help inform the public and promote public-action plans on public safety, education, poverty, and urban design.

Describe LLB Connected Corridor. Tell us a little about your nonprofit, your mission, the people you serve or your goals.

The Connected Corridor focuses on the Atlantic Avenue corridor to transform, connect, and empower community with a vision to create a “Blueprint for the Future” for implementation on other Long Beach corridors. With efforts focused on stakeholders (residents, nonprofits, grassroots organizations, and business owners) their mission is transforming neighborhoods into one community by creating connectivity and empowering stakeholders from the top of the town to downtown. Leadership Long Beach is committed to the important work of “Transforming, Connecting and Empowering the Atlantic Corridor Community.”

How is LLB Connected Corridor different from similar nonprofits?

This is a people driven project. We create synergy by working together and sharing resources. This transformational project informs and engages the stakeholders and partners along the Atlantic Corridor in order to create connectivity and empower people.

How is LLB Connected Corridor involved with the community?

We do not create “new or more” meetings, rather we try to partner with other group’s meetings and partner with events so we can share time and space.

We realize that no one needs to add another “meeting” to their busy schedule and we value this thinking. We also realize so many people are doing great things. How can we connect one another and streamline our efforts? This is our frame of thinking as we move along the Atlantic Corridor.

Groups Along the Corridor:

  • 90800 Bike Program
  • Jordan High School – Ace Academy and JPAC
  • Hamilton Middle School – Leadership Academy
  • Deforest Neighborhood Association
  • Coolidge Triangle Neighborhood Association
  • Molina Medical Health Group
  • Fairfield YMCA
  • Boys & Girls Club
  • Jammin’ Music
  • Go Green Team
  • Hughes Middle School
  • Project Oasis
  • Longfellow Legacy Foundation
  • Longfellow Elementary School
  • Los Cerritos Elementary School
  • Neighborhood Watch
  • Erase the Past
  • Girlfriends
  • LB Blast
  • And, much more….

What are some of the biggest successes LLB Connected Corridor has had?

People finding ways to work together and sharing resources. Seeing the ownership of this project in the people who live and work along the Atlantic Corridor. The new friendships as well as old acquaintances rediscovered.

From: John Royce (e-mail, June 2009)

Even though I don’t have the time to be intimately involved with every detail, I have already seen evidence of how the lines of communication are enhanced through the Connected Corridor process. There are many people who were already active who now have important connections with other active and engaged community members that can and already have forged valuable bonds for assistance in a myriad of ways. From helping promote community events, projects and fundraisers to mutual assistance and what often turns out to be invaluable information sharing. For many of us, our ideas have already been implemented by other groups, and these simple connections put us in contact with those resources and those people we would likely otherwise never meet.

I have also seen how the grant process has forged relationships and community building, even for those whose requests were not granted. Working towards common goals brings us to together with people who just might be available for future community building projects. And for those whose grants are granted, what a wonderful, empowering step up to bringing your group’s plans to fruition!

To miss out on these connections means missing out on what could turn out to be innumerable opportunities to seek out and enhance the resources we need to reach our goals. What seems impossible and daunting can turn around in a flash when we reach out to our community, and that’s what Connected Corridor is all about.

John Royce
President, California Heights Neighborhood Association

What is the most rewarding part of running LLB Connected Corridor?

This transformational project gives us freedom to authentically and sometimes organically focus on the people. It is all about the people. That’s the most rewarding part of this project.

As we continue to build momentum along the Long Beach Atlantic Corridor we realize the ownership of this project takes on more depth as more groups are engaged. For the many people that have been involved in the connectivity process, this creates energy and excitement! Key stakeholders and partners are working together and building community as we advance to Phase Three.

The official launch date will be June 30. This project is more about the “people connect” than the granting process – which is really an added bonus. It is the relationship building and resource sharing that makes the greatest difference!

That being said, each of the four phases has $80,000 designated for community grants to build on the connectivity and relationship-building collaborations established in the Connected Corridor process. That is $340,000 total for the Atlantic Corridor. In Phase Two, we received 21 grant requests from 19 different organizations for a total of 273,099.00. That is almost double our last granting process in Phase One! Our posting of grantees will be coming out soon!

What are the challenges you face ?

Time. It takes time to engage multiple neighborhoods and build relationships. It takes time to discover the champion leaders of each Phase’s communities. To have the time to hear the wonderfully rich stories we gather out of each neighborhood.

We will continue to work within our time line in a meaningful way while building this foundation for the “blueprint” design.

What are the future plans for LLB Connected Corridor?

Phase Three Launch — Meet and Greet on June 30, Tuesday from 5:00 to 6:30 pm at Burnett Library, 560 E. Hill St., Long Beach, CA 90806. RSVP (562) 997-9194

Do you have any special events or fundraisers you’d like to tell us about?

We need to have contacts from Phase Three — Spring Street to Pacific Coast Highway along the Atlantic Corridor. Please share with us who needs to be included in our outreach. Send an email to carinacrs@charter.net.

How can people get involved with LLB Connected Corridor? What do you need — volunteers, donations, etc?

Visit www.connectedcorridor.org – Sign up for our newsletter! Also, please share our project with your neighbors and friends along the Atlantic Corridor.

You can also visit Carina Cristiano Leoni on Facebook for more daily news and information.

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