How Do We Amplify Our Great Work?

How Do We Amplify Our Great Work?

Bright Beginnings strives to be of service to the community.  How can we help individuals and organizations amplify the good work they are doing for our children and families?  How can we help build our local capacity to tackle tough social issues?  In these past couple of weeks, we’ve seen many opportunities to learn and apply best practices from communities around the nation doing similar work.  This month you can read more about the great work done with parents through the Salinas CAT, county-wide training conducted in partnership with Impact Monterey County and Bright Futures, along with takeaways from Bright Beginnings and Bright Futures attendees at a national Strive Together conference.


CAT Spotlight - Salinas 

José Arreola is the Community Safety Division Administrator for the City of Salinas and the Director of the Community Alliance for Safety and Peace (CASP), a cross-sector, collective-impact organization that is dedicated to reducing youth violence in Salinas. One of Jose’s key partners in this effort is Fernanda Ocaña, the Program Coordinator for the Community Safety Division and the head of the Community Leadership Academy Program in Salinas.


Seeking to implement preventative methods in Salinas where poverty is a huge root cause, but hand-in-hand with poverty is also lack of quality education and poor childhood development, José and Fernanda became involved with Bright Beginnings, and they have worked to have CASP serve as the convenor for the Salinas Collaborative Action Team (CAT). The team’s first objective was to select key indicators that they would like to see improved in their community. Instead of taking a top down approach, José and Fernanda set out to work with community members to identify the indicators that they viewed as most relevant and necessary. This is where the idea for parent meetings came about.

Click here to read the full spotlight about the Salinas CAT members, José and Fernanda.


Taking Our Work to the Next Level

Bright Beginnings was able to co-sponsor a three-day training with Teri O’Brien a national consultant and original thought leader in collective impact.   Teri presented on best practices for how to advance our current work to the next level in order to drive results.  Over the course of the training more than 30 participants learned how to keep desired results at the center, bring data forward in a meaningful way and tools to measure our improvement.  Ashley Powers Clark with the North Monterey County Alliance and the North Monterey County CAT said, “The training really helped us understand the nuts and bolts of data based decision making.  We'll be able to move from ideas to action in a more informed and impactful manner using this approach.”  The great news is that Teri will be back in November to follow-up on the lessons learned.  Stay tuned for the next date.


Bright Beginnings & Bright Futures Partnership


In September several members of the Bright Beginnings and Bright Futures Backbone/Steering Partners attended a training from Strive Together, an organizer of nationwide Cradle To Career communities.  Team members attended sessions about data collection, successful project examples and the importance of equity in our work.  The newest member to the Bright Beginnings Backbone and First 5 Monterey County, Tamara Hamai, said, “Hearing the examples of successes in setting up and using data systems that promote data-driven decision making was exciting.  We’ll be using these examples to guide our data work moving forward.”  Janet Shing from the Community Foundation for Monterey County and Bright Futures Steering Partner shared a major takeaway for her from the conference is, “I am going to advocate even stronger to have the voice of lived experience among the steering partners.  This may take extra effort in creating the space and supporting people who may feel intimidated, but it is critically important.”  Tamara captured the feeling of the Monterey attendees, “Being surrounded by people with the same goals was great, but even better was building a strong shared vision between Bright Beginnings, Bright Futures and First 5 Monterey County.”   


Memphis Strive Together Group pic 9.22.16.jpg


Bright Beginnings Evaluation Plan & Survey


Shared measurement is a cornerstone of our work together.  Understanding the effectiveness of our work, helps inform how we move forward.  After reviewing the Year 1 Bright Beginnings Final Evaluation Report, Bright Beginnings has finalized the evaluation plan for the second year.  This year we’re focusing on measuring: 1) the overall impact of the initiative, including the coordination of critical partners, stakeholders, service providers and decision makers, and 2) reflection on what we’re doing and how it shapes our strategy moving forward.  Click here for a full review of the Bright Beginnings Year 2 Evaluation Plan.  For a highlighted version of how we are moving forward in our Theory of Action, a roadmap of our journey through the initiative click here: Bright Beginnings Theory of Action Evaluation.   

In the beginning of November, we will be sending out a survey for our Year 2 evaluation.  Please keep an eye out for the survey in your inbox during the first week of November.  Upon completion, all respondents will be entered into a raffle to win one of two $25 Amazon gift cards. (Yay!) All survey results will be analyzed and kept confidential by the evaluation team at Spark Policy Institute.  Thank you for your time and effort.  Similar to last year, your thoughtful responses will help shape how we all move the initiative forward.


Advocacy Day January 2017: Save the Date


Please mark your calendars and set aside January 31, 2017 to come to Sacramento for Advocacy Day. 

Advocacy Day participants will spend a day in partnership with First 5 building awareness and understanding of early childhood for California legislators.  January's Advocacy Day will be followed by a smaller, more targeted Advocacy Day in April/May when we will make specific policy asks.  Bright Beginnings will provide talking points, lunch and carpool/transportation options for participants.  This is a wonderful opportunity for families to get involved at the state level to advocacy for funding and policies that will affect Monterey County.  Please contact Karen Gorman at or 831-444-8549 to express your interest.


Photo-shoot for local families for Bright Beginnings to use


A picture is worth a thousand words and we want to help you tell your community's story.  If you would like to have a photographer come down and take pictures of the good work your CAT is doing, please let us know.  We would love to use local pictures and represent local families in helping us tell the story of Monterey County families.


Bright Beginnings is an opportunity for the community as a whole to work together to ensure that young children, from the prenatal stage through age 8, have what they need to succeed. Bright Beginnings aims to maximize community efforts to improve early childhood development outcomes through effective coordination, capacity building, empowerment and strategic action for children and their families. Bright Beginnings invites all communities in Monterey County to actively engage in supporting early childhood development.   

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