The 29th Annual Summit, “Reimagining Civic Engagement: Fueling a Movement for a Better Tomorrow” included five dynamic breakout sessions, featuring community leaders and stakeholders discussing topics ranging from the impacts of COVID-19 on educational outcomes to reimagining the LA City budget through an anti-racist framework. View one or all of these engaging breakout sessions below!

Journeys: Moving From the Streets to a Home

This session features a case study of the ongoing “Street to Home effort” to assist the residents of an encampment on Venice Blvd under the 10 freeway. As a pilot effort, Councilmember Ridley-Thomas’ office funded dedicated social workers to provide outreach and engagement through the nonprofit, The People Concern. As of December 2020, 28 individuals have been successfully rehoused and are being provided with ongoing support services. Come discuss lessons learned from this pilot effort as part of an effort to expand and expedite the response to street homelessness across Los Angeles.

Dr. Jack Barbour, Chief Executive Officer, Southern California Health & Rehabilitation Program (SCHARP); Empowerment Congress Leadership Council Member

John Maceri
, Chief Executive Officer, The People Concern
Jose Torres, Team Lead & Substance Use Specialist E6 Street Outreach, The People Concern
Elizabeth (Libby) Boyce, Director of Access, Referrals & Engagement, Housing for Health Division LA County Department of Health Services
Almadelia (Alma) Carmona, Pre-taped video

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Want to engage further? Consider joining the Empowerment Congress Committee on Homelessness.

If We Build It, Will They Come? Trust in COVID-19 Vaccines Among Communities of Color

Vaccines represent a promising solution to the COVID-19 pandemic, yet their widespread acceptance is still unclear. After too many cases of grievous experimentation on people of color without consent, including the Holmesburg Prison Experiment, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, and on Henrietta Lacks, health officials must figure out how to earn the confidence and cooperation of communities of color, who are justifiably wary, if a national vaccine campaign is to succeed.

This session brings public health experts and community stakeholders to the virtual table to answer questions about the coronavirus vaccine and to ignite a powerful conversation on how we can ensure equitable access to vaccinations amidst America’s long history of racial disparities and medical mistreatment.

Sonya Vasquez, Chief Compliance and Operations Officer, Community Health Councils; Empowerment Congress Executive Committee Member

Dr. Brad Spellberg
, Chief Medical Officer, LAC+USC Medical Center
Dr. Katya Corado, Infectious Disease Specialist, Division of HIV Medicine, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center
Dr. Roberto Vargas, Associate Professor of Medicine, College of Medicine, Charles R.  Drew University of Medicine and Science

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Want to engage further? Consider joining the Empowerment Congress Special Committee on COVID-19.

Resiliency in Crisis: School Closures and Learning Loss Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 crisis has forced schools in Los Angeles and across the world to shut down for in-person instruction. While school districts have made considerable efforts to close the digital divide, low-income students have experienced the greatest difficulty distance learning.

With the hope of a vaccine underway, several questions remain unanswered in the debate to reopen schools: What impact will school closures have on our most vulnerable, low-income students? What strategies can we implement to address learning loss and support children and families during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond? This session engages educators, parents, and school administrators in a conversation about the challenges and opportunities inherent in distance learning and the best ways communities can support students and families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Shani Byard
, Founder, @AfroMediaLit; Empowerment Congress Leadership Council Member

Dr. Tyrone Howard
, Professor of Education, Associate Dean for Equity & Inclusion, Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles
Dr. AmberMarie Irving, Parent and PTA Member, Baldwin Hills Elementary School
Mia Young-Adeyeba, English Teacher, Alexander Hamilton Senior High School

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Want to engage further? Consider joining the Empowerment Congress Special Committee on COVID-19.

Reimagining the City Budget Through an Antiracist Framework

Following massive protests over the tragic deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and countless victims of color across the nation, the Los Angeles City Council committed to cut police spending and reinvest in disenfranchised communities.

A new study conducted by Loyola Marymount University’s Center for the Study of Los Angeles and commissioned by the Los Angeles Police Department highlights the City’s growing appetite for change – but what should that change look like and how far should it go?

This session explores these pivotal survey findings and how we can work together to reimagine public safety in an Antiracist Los Angeles.

Arna Fulcher
, Co-Chair, Empowerment Congress Equitable Economic, Environmental & Community Development Committee; Empowerment Congress Executive Committee Member

Dr. Fernando Guerra
, Professor of Political Science and International Relations and Chicana/o Latina/o Studies and Director of the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount University
Miguel A. Santana, Chair, Committee for Greater Los Angeles

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Empowering LA: Redefining Civic Engagement in a COVID-19 Era and Beyond 

The coronavirus pandemic, the death of George Floyd and a divisive presidential election created a surging movement of activism and engagement in Los Angeles.  Angelenos across generational, ethnic and geographic lines marched in the streets of Los Angeles, mobilized public opinion and enacted a series of initiatives that made the promise of change a reality. Across the City, activism has become a part of people’s everyday lives. Mutual aid movements provided groceries and protective supplies to communities in need, organizers pushed for legislation to cancel rents and mortgages and neighborhood councils brought renewed attention to the housing crisis.

While some residents went to the streets, many others took to social media. Memes, tweets and TikTok inspired collective discourse, fueling social movements for a better tomorrow. What lessons can we draw from 2020? How do we sustain this unified, diverse movement for change? How do we strengthen Los Angeles’ infrastructure for political participation? And, what role can neighborhood councils and community groups play in this new moment of civic engagement?

Join us for an interactive discussion with Neighborhood Councils, community partners and experts on the future of civic engagement in Los Angeles and the unique opportunities available for residents to reimagine and empower their communities.

Rhea Mac, Social Equity Consultant, Rhea K. Mac Consulting; Co-Chair, Empowerment Congress Committee on Homelessness

Raquel Beltrán
, General Manager, Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, City of Los Angeles
Councilmember Nithya Raman, Los Angeles City Council, District 4
Raphael J. Sonenshein, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, California State University, Los Angeles
Sherin Varghese, Organizer, Ktown for All

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