2018 All-America City Finalist – El Paso, TX

Application Summary for the All-America City Awards:

Plenty of communities offer “citizen academies” or “leadership academies” to help residents navigate the intricacies of city politics and government, but how many offer Dale Carnegie courses to ensure that residents from all parts of the city can become effective leaders?

Graduates of El Paso’s Neighborhood Leadership Academy are invited to attend quarterly Advanced Leadership Trainings provided by the Dale Carnegie Institute to help them become more effective at running meetings and gaining the active participation of others.

The community vision for the City of El Paso, “safe and beautiful neighborhoods, a vibrant regional economy, and exceptional recreational, cultural and educational opportunities,” was incorporated into the City’s 2015 Strategic Plan after an extensive public outreach process that included citizen surveys, public meetings and city council work sessions.

After adopting the plan, El Paso government began to implement a citywide resilience strategy to reinforce the mission and vision and assure strategic responsiveness to community needs. This plan was developed after a year-long community outreach process that reached more than 70,000 people. The resilience strategy is aimed at deploying innovative initiatives that directly address the diverse needs of the El Paso community.


Three project examples showing how this community leverages civic engagement, collaboration, inclusiveness and innovation to successfully address local issues:

 

1.) Empowering El Pasoans for Service and Leadership
The Neighborhood Leadership Academy (NLA), is a 20-week educational program that informs El Paso residents of the services and programs city departments provide, how they are using tax payer money, how residents can access their services, and, most importantly in many cases, how residents can help those departments to provide the highest levels of customer service.

After eight years of implementing the NLA, Neighborhood Services staff came to the realization that while residents were becoming well-versed in how to work with the city, there was still an apparent gap in leadership skills. Some neighborhood associations appeared to be led by a handful of individuals with little support from the rest of their neighbors.

In 2015 the first Advanced Leadership Training was hosted by Neighborhood Services. Past graduates of the NLA and neighborhood association leaders were invited to attend a four-week course (held one evening per week) provided by Dale Carnegie Training. The topics covered were:

  • Communicate to Lead,
  • Gain the Willing Cooperation of Others,
  • Successful Public Speaking, and
  • How to Run Meetings that Accomplish Something.

The Advance Leadership Training series is so highly regarded and in demand that it is now provided on an ongoing basis with a different topic every quarter.

Nearly one in every ten NLA graduates has been appointed to city boards and commissions or other local and regional advisory groups. Two graduates were elected to the El Paso City Council. To ensure that the NLA is being conducted in a way that maximizes equity, every graduate from the current class will be asked to submit a demographic survey. Results from those surveys will allow for assessment of equity in the program.

More information: Neighborhood Leadership Academy

 

2.) Career and Adult Educational Opportunities
Through its public libraries, the City of El Paso is working to provide basic educational and entrepreneurial services to traditionally underserved communities. In partnership with El Paso’s public workforce system, Workforce Solutions Borderplex, and a cooperative relationship with the Small Business Administration, the city is providing the following:

  • Educational workshops for career and business development;
  • one-to-one library staff assistance to support business development and entrepreneurial activities;
  • accessibility to information regarding research;
  • planning, grants, trademarks; and
  • other relevant business topics.

Technology tools are available for business use, including copy machines with faxing, printing, and scanning capabilities, sound equipment, microphones, headphones, telephones and a SmartScreen accessible during all library hours of operation. Alternative work spaces are made available in library auditoriums, atriums, conference rooms and other spaces. The goals of these programs and service enhancements are to support the economic development efforts of the City of El Paso, give emerging workforces places to engage their customers and to sharpen their business and entrepreneurial skills and improve the quality of life of residents by providing skills and training.

Since 2014, El Paso has increased training and adult education significantly. GED students increased from just 161 in 2014 to more than 2,400 in 2017. Likewise, citizenship students increased from an estimated 4,800 students to well over 10,000 in just 3 years.

More information: Workforce Solutions Borderplex

 

3.) El Paso Rental Assistance Demonstration Project
An initiative of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program allows public housing authorities to leverage public and private debt and equity to redevelop their aging public housing stock and prevent the loss of existing affordable housing.

Strategic planning meetings were conducted with key stakeholders such as those using the programs, utilities, school districts, city departments that manage construction permitting processes and public transportation and the El Paso Apartment Association. Community meetings with the general public were held to gather input on their perceptions of affordable housing in El Paso. As a result, the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso (HACEP) was able to develop a strategic plan and a list of policies in conjunction with HUD and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs to go forward with a portfolio-wide RAD conversion.

As of today, HACEP’s RAD initiative has

  • completed 1,508 family relocations,
  • celebrated 1,278 “Welcome Homes” for families coming back to revitalized communities,
  • created over 1,050 jobs,
  • completed over 250 community meetings,
  • managed over 2,000 one-on-one family meetings, and
  • has invested $740 million, on its way to $1.3 billion, at zero cost to the local tax payer.

HACEP currently has 739 homes under construction, with nearly 3,000 more homes to go, translating into another 6,000 families in improved living conditions.

More information: El Paso Rental Assistance Demonstration Project

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