Parks are a key contributor to healthy urban living, and Los Angeles County residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of more green and recreational space in November of 2016 by approving a ballot measure called Measure A. By replacing funding for expiring park funding programs, the initiative will give the Los Angeles County Regional Parks and Open Space District (RPOSD) roughly $96 million a year to fund badly needed park projects in the County’s 88 cities as well as unincorporated communities. According to the Countywide Comprehensive Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment (Park Needs Assessment), the County provides an average of 3.3 acres of parkland for every 1,000 residents. However, more than half of its residents live in areas classified either as “Very High Need,” averaging 0.7 acres per 1,000 residents, or “High Need,” averaging 1.6 acres per 1,000 residents, demonstrating a clear inequity in parkland distribution. The results of the Parks Needs Assessment informed the development of Measure A.
Now, as part of Measure A’s first funding cycle, RPOSD is focusing on the capacity of High and Very High (H/VH) Need Study Areas to successfully apply for and receive grants to deliver high-quality projects through a first-of-its-kind Technical Assistance Program (TAP). Given that nearly one-third of Measure A’s expenditure plan is identified for awards through competitive application processes, RPOSD will succeed in achieving its guiding vision only to the extent that all communities are able to learn how to access technical assistance and effectively compete for funds with RPOSD and other grantmakers. Therefore, with the priority of reaching H/VH Need communities, RPOSD will develop a technical outreach and education program where local government may have a limited capacity of competing for and receiving grant awards for parkland acquisition and development.
To support this work, the County will partner with FUSE Corps to host an executive-level fellow for one year who will facilitate the development of the Technical Assistance Program. In addition, the fellow will facilitate its adoption by stakeholders, including nonprofits, local government entities, and business and philanthropic organizations; develop philanthropic partnerships to expand funding and, finally, initiate pilot implementation. If successful, this pilot will provide Los Angeles County with a roadmap for the future of neighborhood parkland acquisition and development, maintenance and operation that will markedly improve residents’ quality of life in communities currently identified as H/VH Need for parks and facilities.
Project Summary & Potential Deliverables
The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables that follow will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the fellow and the host agency.
Starting in September 2018, it is proposed the FUSE Fellow will conduct an agency overview of the RPOSD, review the 2016 Countywide Comprehensive Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment for key takeaways on the scope of needed parks and their potential costs, and review all information related to the implementation of Measure A. The fellow will then lead efforts to develop a Technical Assistance Program to reduce barriers to accessing and administering RPOSD, State, Federal and philanthropic grant funds. A key function of these efforts is to engage with community stakeholders, including nonprofits, local government entities, community-based organizations, business and philanthropic organizations, in order to assess knowledge gaps. This information will support the creation of a variety of technical assistance elements and services to fill those gaps, as well as the creation of a model for effective delivery of technical assistance. While working with these stakeholders, the fellow will identify agencies most in need of technical assistance and reach out to private and public partners to build relationships. The year will conclude with the initial implementation of a pilot park development project that utilizes the resources developed for the TAP.
The fellow’s success in this endeavor will be evaluated based on several factors. The fellow will apply a strong project management background to shape a technical assistance program and will model and shepherd it through to implementation. The fellow will also bring a familiarity with public-private partnerships. Among other benefits, this experience will provide the fellow with criteria for the evaluation of nonprofit groups and local government entities as potential partners. This background, combined with high-level communication and consensus-building skills, will provide the leadership necessary to help guide the RPOSD from its technical assistance program start-up phase through the development of a robust program that supports the development of park and recreation space, and initial implementation of that program.
- Complete a survey of existing information: Get up to speed on the role and objectives of the RPOSD and the recommended Measure A Technical Assistance Program, as well as the Countywide Comprehensive Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment. Become familiar with the process of parkland acquisition, development and maintenance, and operations in L.A. County, including its merits and challenges. Research the practices of other regions similar to L.A. County that have successfully funded grants through competitive or other grant programs, particularly with respect to technical assistance and community outreach and education.
- Engage and align stakeholders around goals: Establish regular lines of communication and convene with community stakeholders, including nonprofits, local government entities, business and philanthropic organizations, regarding RPOSD and other grants. Ensure all concerns and perspectives are heard and appropriately incorporated into TAP elements and delivery methods. Facilitate outreach and education efforts, including workshops.
- Facilitate the development TAP elements and create a model for effective delivery: Use recommendations contained in the Proceedings of the Measure A Steering Committee and information gathered from stakeholders to create content or assist in overseeing the development of all TAP elements, including: Resource Toolkits, Professional Services, Technical Assistance Directories, and Ongoing Technical Support Services. Facilitate and manage the development of a plan for effective delivery of technical assistance to agencies and organizations with need, including decision tree(s) to determine which nonprofits or local government entities are best-suited to receive those technical assistance elements that are not available to all. Identify opportunities for public-private partnerships to advance park development through technical assistance.
- Facilitate and manage the creation, launch, and evaluation of the initial TAP implementation plan: Based on work with stakeholders, create an initial TAP implementation plan that identifies timelines for the availability of each TAP element as well as potential recipients. Identify those agencies most in need of technical assistance and the types of assistance required. Consult with RPOSD leaders, private and public partners to select one or more agencies with technical assistance needs for a pilot project that stands out on the basis of need, potential project feasibility, and merit. Initiate delivery of technical assistance to selected agency(s) and seek out additional funding from suitable partners to complement RPOSD funding.
- Jane Beesley, District Administrator, Los Angeles County Regional Park and Open Space District
- Warren Ontiveros, Administration Section – Manager, Los Angeles County Regional Park and Open Space District
- At least 15 years of professional experience in a relevant field, particularly with a strong background in project management, agency capacity-building, and public-private partnerships
- Public agency experience preferred, but not required
- Superior critical thinking and analytical skills
- Self-motivated, goal-oriented, entrepreneurial leader who can also be an independent worker
- Ability to relate to a wide variety of diverse audiences with strong emotional intelligence and empathy
- Excellent stakeholder engagement skills and the ability to use facilitative leadership techniques to coordinate stakeholder education activities
- Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity
- Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with an ease in public presentations
- Persistent in obtaining information and creatively resourceful in identifying solutions to complex problems
- Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations
- Ability to create direction and movement within potentially ambiguous environments
- Experience in consulting, corporate or philanthropic giving preferred, but not required