2024 All-America City – Monrovia, CA

Monrovia, a historic city nestled near the San Gabriel Mountains in Southern California, boasts a population of about 37,000 residents. Incorporated in 1887, it is the fourth-oldest city in Los Angeles County, offering a blend of urban amenities and natural beauty. The city’s downtown and neighborhoods exude a welcoming small-town feel, complemented by opportunities in the thriving tech industry.  

The community’s shared values of diversity, history, and community engagement are reflected in its mission to serve residents and create a premier quality of life. Featured programs like the Monrovia Area Partnership, along with collaborations with local media and schools, promote a sense of belonging and civic involvement. 

Monrovia Area Partnership Program   

The Monrovia Area Partnership (MAP) program is a comprehensive initiative designed to revitalize neighborhoods and empower residents as leaders. Initially established in response to concerns about rising crime and blight in specific areas, MAP aimed to foster trust between residents and local government while improving neglected neighborhoods. 

MAP implemented various strategies in partnership with local community members, nonprofits, and churches. These efforts included organizing block parties, providing literacy and recreational resources, and offering home improvement grants and workshops to revitalize neighborhoods. 

As the program progressed, it expanded its focus to develop residents’ leadership skills. The MAP Leadership Academy was launched, offering a seven-week course covering topics like public speaking, community organizing, government basics, and code enforcement and public safety. Graduates of the academy have assumed roles in government and community leadership. 

Building on this success, MAP extended its reach to youth with the MAP Youth Leadership Academy. This program educates Monrovia’s youth on topics such as neighborhood compatibility, water conservation, emergency preparedness, transportation systems, and city budgeting. Over 200 youth have graduated from the academy, many of whom have gone on to serve in leadership capacities within local government and the community.  

Community Media of the Foothills Partnership 

For over 30 years, the City of Monrovia has partnered with Community Media of the Foothills (CMF) to deliver news, updates, and civic information through KGEM, its public access channel. This collaboration has expanded public education and government access while fostering community-led civic engagement.

Initially focused on covering city council and planning commission meetings, as well as city events, KGEM’s partnership with CMF broadened content to include community-driven programming. This includes interviews with local election candidates, election coverage, and public service announcements. Additionally, community activists and citizen journalists committed to engaging marginalized groups have access to CMF’s studio for filming and broadcasting. 

CMF supports community-led programming by offering free studio time, equipment usage, and professional training in video production using high-quality cameras, lighting, and editing software. They also provide professional editing services for content suitable for their platform. 

KGEM notably played a crucial role during the Black Lives Matter movement, hosting discussions on systemic racism and police brutality, including interviews between protesters and the police chief. 

In 2023 alone, CMF produced 187 videos, broadcast 85 municipal meetings, and provided 62 pieces of field equipment to volunteer producers. They recently launched an internship program to educate youth about civic engagement and media. 

Monrovia Unified School District Partnership 

In early 2023, students at a Monrovia elementary school returned from Christmas break to discover that the rose bushes on their campus had been removed without consultation. Concerned, they wrote a letter to the principal seeking an explanation. 

The school seized this as a teachable moment, implementing a project-based learning approach to educate students about democracy and civic engagement. Collaborating with the city manager, the school district designed a third-grade curriculum centered on local government, policies, and community involvement. 

As part of the project, students visited city hall and the community center, meeting with the city manager, city councilmember, and various city departments. Each department explained its services and engaged students in interactive activities.  

Inspired by their experience, students conducted research on drought-tolerant plants to replace the removed rose bushes. One student even produced a “Breaking News” video featuring an interview with a firefighter to inform peers about the Fire Department’s role. 

The project also empowered students to improve recess safety and fun by conducting surveys, identifying problems, and creating and implementing official playground rules through student elections. The city recognized their efforts by displaying these rules on official signage. 

This initiative’s success led the district to update its third-grade curriculum to emphasize democracy and local governance.  

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