If you’re looking for homework help for your child, after-school tutoring, an ESL class for your father, or access to free diapers and formula for your new baby, do you know where to start? If you had the opportunity to design a one-stop-shop where members of your community could find any of the above (and more), what would it look like?
Within our vibrant, resilient Oakland, there are extensive resources available, found within our very own community. These resources and assets have been developed over time by innovative and resourceful Oaklanders to fill critical gaps in our public systems. But they are often scattered, not well advertised, or not effectively shared with the many people who could benefit from them.
That’s why we at GO are excited to partner with TNTP on a truly community-driven project designed to bring our community‘s very own hidden or undervalued assets, services, and resources to Oaklanders in an accessible way—to their smartphones and computers.
As we design this new digital directory of Oakland’s community assets, we’re making sure Oakland families are in the driver’s seat with real power to decide what it looks like and how it works. Community engagement is critical when developing resources meant to serve and support people and families, especially those who have been historically marginalized. But so often, these engagement efforts are missing a key component—actual members of these communities, their voices, their knowledge, and their honest feedback.
The Community Connectors website, set to launch this summer, will include an interactive map of existing resources, community assets, and free or low-cost services that Oakland families are looking for and opportunities for families to connect with each other and strengthen our community. GO has been very honored to play a role in bringing families together to develop this new website in an authentic way, ensuring that families have the power to decide what assets are included and how the tool works to help our community thrive.
In a series of design workshops held in the fall of 2021 and facilitated in both Spanish and English, a group of Oakland families from the GO network – representative of the city’s diverse makeup – came together to discuss the strengths of the community, the resources they were aware of, potential barriers to access (language and otherwise), and the positive impact that sharing these resources could have for all of us.
“The process was amazing,” shared Oakland parent and workshop participant, Hakeem Bey. “They took in all our ideas and concerns and they really listened to us, with the goal of creating something that is useful, thoughtful, and trustworthy. If we can make this something that anybody can use in the community, no matter what they are looking for, this can be a game changer, not just for Oakland, but for other cities.”
When people work together to share resources instead of just looking out for themselves, the entire community grows stronger. Beyond just mapping these Oakland resources, this project is bringing families together to help each other realize their hopes and dreams – as a community. Next up for the Community Connectors project is a working version of the platform presented to community members for additional feedback, followed by a planning session that will focus on how to make sure this resource reaches people across Oakland.
We will continue to keep you updated as this project progresses!