Long Beach Rising Leadership Program Returns to Shape Future Community Activists

Residents who want to make a difference in their community or hope to enter the political sphere can apply for Long Beach Rising’s free annual leadership program through August 12.

The Long Beach Rising Leadership Program has helped educate and encourage hundreds of budding activists across the city through a series of workshops, lessons, and a canvassing and outreach event.

LB Rising’s goal is “to build unity in local neighborhoods, meaningfully engage residents in the political process, and inspire residents to use their power to make informed decisions to improve their lives. city,” according to the program’s online description. The first leadership training took place in 2011.

LB Rising is a collaborative effort of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs, Long Beach Forward, and various community partners advocating for “increased civic participation, voters and community organizing in areas that have been historically underrepresented,” said Grecia Lopez-Reyes, director of the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs.

Participants will focus on the North and West Long Beach areas, as the program has identified these areas as historically underrepresented in the city.

This year marks the first time Lopez-Reyes has been in charge of the program, although she has been a volunteer for years. Just before the pandemic, the program was the most popular, teaching up to 50 students in 2019, Lopez-Reyes said. Now the numbers have settled at around 20 participants each year.

Participants in the Long Beach Rising leadership program attend a seminar. (Courtesy of Grecia Lopez-Reyes)

“It was really to create a program that provides training for community leaders, future organizers, and allows them to have a political understanding of the issues that affect their lives,” Lopez-Reyes said.

The program will take place over three days: August 27, September 10 and September 17, all from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The first two days of the program will take place in the classroom and will be taught by community leaders and members of the organizations concerned.

Lopez-Reyes said the program is still looking for speakers for the first two days, but so far instructors are being recruited from the organizations involved. August 27 will be a collaboration between the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and Long Beach Forward, where they will teach attendees the principles of direct organizing.

The Direct Organizing Principles will address questions such as “What are the organizing patterns when it comes to building relationships?” How do people start to identify problems and how do you get leaders to act? How do you mobilize people? said Lopez-Reyes.

The first day of the program will also teach “what it takes to get community members to develop leadership with the ultimate goal of mobilization,” Lopez-Reyes said.

The second day of the program will delve deeper into the idea of ​​strategy and power analysis. Lopez-Reyes said the program hopes to get “additional support from community organizers” who specialize in immigrant rights and economic justice.

“The goal is really to develop leaders in the community who will continue to help us move political power to Long Beach,” Reyes-Lopez said.

Residents will spend the final day of training learning the importance of canvassing a union leader, before traveling to Northwest Long Beach to participate in a nonpartisan canvassing exercise. The key question that participants will ask has not yet been decided.

“Our hope with the leadership program is that they learn community organizing, that they learn that strategy, understanding of power and political analysis, but also that they are able to go out into the field and to put into practice everything they’ve learned through our outreach program,” Lopez-Reyes said.

Former members of the program have gone on to create political change in their communities, Lopez-Reyes said. A participant in the program now works as a staff member in Councilor Suely Saro’s office.

LB Rising is free to anyone interested over the age of 18, although the program is primarily aimed at recruiting Long Beach residents. There will be free meals during the workshops and free child care will be offered to participants. Residents can apply for the program through this link on the @long_beach_coalition Instagram page.

Kevin E. Boling