Building Power and a Narrative of Belonging to Create an Inclusive Society

APHA/The California Endowment Summit 

Saturday, Nov. 10, 2 - 5:30 p.m.

This half-day forum is designed to share insights, strategies and lessons learned from the implementation of Building Healthy Communities, a 10-year $1 billion philanthropic initiative by the California Endowment. Three big ideas will be discussed to transform the health of communities:

  • how to build collective agency;
  • what it means to build a narrative of belonging and inclusion; and
  • how to change the odds – rather than beat the odds – through environmental or opportunity change in conditions.

The City Heights neighborhood of San Diego is one of 14 BHC sites, a community with a rich diversity of refugee and immigrant populations. Breakouts will focus on case studies and local leadership from the City Heights, with emphasis on the roles of youth in leading advocacy for community health improvement, and power-building as a determinant of health. A plenary and two rounds of breakouts are scheduled.


Tony ItonAnthony Iton, Senior Vice President for Healthy Communities, The California Endowment
The ABCs of Community Health

Iton is a longtime community health advocate, previously serving as director of the Alameda County Health Department, as an HIV disability rights attorney, a health care policy advocate and a physician and advocate for the homeless. His primary focus includes health of disadvantaged populations and the contributions of race, class, wealth, education, geography, and employment to health status. He oversees the Endowment's commitment to advance policies and forge partnerships to build healthy communities and a healthy California.

Diana RossDiana Ross, Executive Director, Mid-City Community Advocacy Network
Agency: On Organizing

Ross leads Mid-City CAN, which is comprised of residents of the Mid-City neighborhood who care about making a lasting impact in their community. Mid-City CAN helps organize teams of local volunteers to accomplish their goals around such issues as food justice, peace promotion and improving transportation. For the past eight years, Mid-City CAN has teamed up with 13 other sites across the state to be part of The California Endowment's Building Healthy Communities initiative.


Godwin Higa, former principal, Cherokee Point Elementary

Jesse Mills, Associate Professor, Ethnic Studies, University of San Diego
Inclusive Narrative


BREAKOUT SESSIONS, ROUND 1, 3:20-4:20 p.m.

Breakout 1: School to Prison Pipeline (a discussion on the criminalization of youth and advancing equity within school systems)

  • Mid-City CAN Youth Council: Youth-led organizing to create a healthier and safer City Heights
  • Peace Promotion Momentum Team: Resident Partnership with Juvenile Justice system leaders to create a restorative community conferencing pilot project in City Heights
  • San Diego Unified School District Policy Department: Training school police officers in restorative practices and community engagement

Breakout 2: Transportation & Environmental Justice (a discussion of multiple strategies in which community residents collaborate with local government, business and other allies to improve transit and mobility and address the health and economic impacts of climate change)

  • Climate Action Campaign: Engagement of community partners to advocate for implementation of San Diego's legally binding commitment to 100 percent clean energy
  • Improving Transportation in City Heights (ITCH): Youth and adult advocacy for free youth bus passes and other transportation access improvements
  • Dockless bike sharing company: Community partnerships to improve bicycle access and safety
  • San Diego City Council District 9: Local government leadership in land use and transportation planning

Breakout 3: Healthy Food Access (Discussions of campaigns that contribute to building a sustainable healthy food environment, including school and community gardens, healthy food preparation training programs, creating healthier and culturally appropriate school meals, and supports for healthy food entrepreneurial businesses)

  • FACES for the Future: Health career pathway program at Hoover and Crawford High Schools
  • Youth Field Team: Youth-led integrated voter engagement
  • Sisterhood Circle: Leadership development for young women through a gender and racial justice lens
  • Cesar Chavez Service Clubs: Leadership development for grades 3 through college age based on Cesar Chavez's values of non-violence, sacrifice and service

BREAKOUT SESSIONS, ROUND 2, 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Breakout 4: Youth Development (a discussion of community-driven approaches to support positive youth development through strategies such as youth leadership and civic engagement, gender identity and healing, and developing health career pathways that include community health learning opportunities)

  • Crawford High Food and Social Justice Club: Student leadership in establishing healthy Halal school lunches
  • United Women of East Africa Support Team: Refugee community engagement in Halal school lunch campaign and healthy food preparation business
  • International Rescue Committee: Healthy food preparation training and business development
  • City Heights Community Development Corporation: Creation of an open air market and other economic development activity

Breakout 5: Changing the Narrative With Youth & Community Media (Examples of community-driven storytelling about how the experience and expertise of residents contribute to a greater understanding of community health challenges and opportunities, told through videos, photography, public radio/tv, print, and social media)

  • Media Arts Center: Coordination of the SpeakCityHeights media collaborative to support community storytelling about changes happening in their neighborhoods
  • AjA Project: Participatory photography for youth empowerment and community transformation
  • Mid-City CAN: Community collaborative communication strategies to support and celebrate community-led change

Breakout 6: Youth-Led Participatory Action Research Project (A team of immigrant youth describe their process and findings from a Participatory Action Research Project on community needs, from a highly diverse sample of City Heights youth.)

  • Global Action Research Center: Use of participatory action research in supporting community research and advocacy initiatives
  • City Heights Youth for Change: Use of popular education to support youth leadership development and advocacy in a group formed by six young Bantu women