Reimagining Community Advocates Leadership Academy

CALA Graduating Class of 2019

Founded in 2013, the Community Advocates Leadership Academy (CALA), has served as the training ground for over 200 graduates who are working locally to make a difference on the environmental and social challenges of our time.

In 2019 we have tackled the question, “How can we deepen our impact and better achieve our mission and vision through CALA?” Green Foothills then set on a journey to overhaul the program.

Inequity: A Barrier to Achieving Our Mission and Vision

For 57 years, Green Foothills has worked to empower people across San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties to effectively participate in land use issues. A challenge for us has been that, while our region is incredibly diverse, the environmental movement is not. Additionally, many communities who encounter bias do not see a comfortable entry point to engage authentically in civic leadership.

This plays out in who volunteers, who is interested in serving on our board of directors, who applies for employment, and who champions the protection of nature in other movements and in elected office. There needs to be a larger, more diverse base of community leaders who are working across sectors for the natural environment. Furthermore, the future and vitality of our organization, the environmental movement, and our entire region depends on applying an equity lens to investing in culture change that supports diversity and inclusion.

CALA 2.0: Learn. Explore. Collaborate. Impact.

The revised CALA program, launching January 2020 will bring together and train a diverse community of change makers across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors who want to support the protection of our natural environment while increasing the power of a greater diversity of people, including women and people of color, in the conservation movement.

The Community Advocates Leadership Academy 6-month program and associated alumni program provides a foundation that participants can leverage throughout their career of public service. People who graduate from the program will be able to

  • Articulate their personal mission statement and their theory of change.
  • Identify the next leadership role they will pursue.
  • Recognize how bias prevents certain voices from being heard.
  • Articulate actions they will take to support diversity, equity, and inclusion in their civic leadership role.
  • Influence key decision makers through the use of power mapping.
  • Organize a convening for a targeted audience, that accomplishes a stated goal, and leaves participants feeling heard.
  • More effectively advocate for the natural environment as the primary aspect or contributing component of their advocacy work.
  • Strategically leverage a rich connection and shared experience with their cohort of changemakers.
  • Weave timely issues and perspectives into their repertoire of advocacy approaches via twice yearly CALA update events.

CALA will grow a diverse and inclusive community of leaders who will be a powerful force for the environment and equity in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.

Graduates of the program serve as mentors for the future participants, can serve on our new CALA Advisory Board, and are supported by the CALA network to attain leadership roles.

A Shift In How We Teach

Since its founding in 2013, the CALA curriculum has been grounded in a traditional teacher/student model of learning. Yet we have realized that such an approach is not entirely effective and does not match our values.

To bring out the wisdom and experience of our participants, the learning environment will operate through equitable collaboration, giving voice and power to participants rather than expecting them to sit and listen to “experts” all day.  Participants will have meaningful opportunities to share their stories, push back on learnings, engage in “real talk” that will help their cohort understand their perspectives on our guest experts and the issues covered.

Who Should Apply?

Our goal each year is to form a cohort of 20-25 people who represent the ethic, geographic, generational, gender, and economic diversity of the region and live in or serve San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties’ communities.

Accepted applicants are distinguished by their:

  • Collaborative mindset and commitment to be more effective changemakers in the public, private, and/or nonprofit sectors.
  • Passion for working across sectors toward a vision for the region to be a resilient, equitable place where wildlife thrive, everyone has natural beauty to enjoy, and communities live in balance with nature.
  • Desire to be a part of a cohort exploring systemic oppression, and holding one another accountable to break down barriers and increase the power of communities who historically have been disempowered.

Scholarships will be available. We encourage all interested people to apply, regardless of financial means. Cost per participant is $3,000. Full and partial scholarships available thanks to the financial support of the Knight Foundation, San Mateo County Health System, Green Foothills’ members, and funding sources we are actively soliciting right now. Please consider making a donation to show your support.

2019-2020 Schedule

All sessions on Saturday, generally 8:30am-3:00pm

January 11, 2020 

February 1, 2020 

March 7, 2020 

April 4, 2020 

May 6, 2020 

June 7, 2020

Graduation: June 14, 2020

Application period launches September 1, 2019.

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