October 21, 2012

A recap of our Listening & Funding Forum in Imperial County.

As part of our effort to be more involved in the Imperial County, we engaged the community to learn about the people that call Imperial County home and the challenges that they face in growing and bettering their community. By sharing this information, we hope to help other groups and organizations understand Imperial County so that they too can get involved.

Overall Description:

Imperial County is mostly Latino (84.5%) and has a very fluid border.  They face high unemployment rates, and those with jobs are paid low salaries.  One third of the county’s jobs are in agriculture, another third in government, and the remaining third are spread throughout the various employers.  They have one of the highest illiteracy rates in the country.  Despite the fact that they are a relatively small county, their resources (money and people) are spread thin. This impacts their ability to build strong coalitions and to know who is doing what.  However, they are very interested in cooperating together and discovering ways to fill in gaps because of their strong sense of community.

How They Interact:

They are a close knit community which enables them to trigger quick solutions, especially to enhance family conditions.  They have a mutual respect for each other and share a common goal of bringing wellness to the community. Their greatest resource is trust, and they are comfortable reaching out to each other when there is a need.

They work in collaboration out of a necessity to survive.  They establish strong partnerships and are always open to new ideas.

Challenged By:

Promises that don’t happen.  They believe they are over-assessed by organizations that use them to strengthen their San Diego proposals and then see nothing in Imperial County.  They have a strong culture of doing things their way. They have immediate needs that don’t necessarily lend themselves well to foundation giving.  At an operational level, they need funding for a dedicated grant-writer.

Additional Points:

They don’t believe that others outside of Imperial County have a very positive impression of the county and thus struggle to attract grants, business/corporations, physicians, pro-bono lawyers, wealth, etc.  They also lose their local talent to other areas because there are no jobs for educated youth.  They believe they miss out on funding opportunities because of a lack of grant-writers as well as space to put programs they would otherwise be eligible for.

What else should we all know?

Share what you know about Imperial County with us to help us all better understand how to advance health and wellness to those in need. Post your comments below to contribute to our conversation.

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