The City of Angels is ready for 2Gen. That was the headline of the May 29 forum organized by Ascend Network Partner Abriendo Puertas and First 5 LA, featuring more than 100 participants from school districts, nonprofits, government agencies, and philanthropic organizations around Los Angeles County.
A place of promise and contradictions
This is a state, Senate President Kevin de Leon noted, that has the seventh largest GDP in the world and the highest level of child poverty in the country. California is also a demographic melting pot, drawing families from around the world and making Los Angeles a city of rich diversity. That diversity – and need to address the needs of low-income families across race, class, and gender – is an asset as Los Angeles organizations start to identify opportunities to embed two-generation approaches in partnerships, programs, and policies. Sandra Gutierrez, Abriendo Puertas’ visionary leader, put it best: “We need to start offering our parents the same opportunities we offer our children, with the same quality, and the same commitment to equity.”
While the Top 10 for 2Gen policy agenda played a starring role in discussions, below are the top 5 insights from speakers who participated:
1. LA can be a model for the rest of the country on how to approach shifting demographics and integrating two-generation approaches. Dr. Manuel Pastor, Director, USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity and Co-Director, USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, presented on the shifting demographics of Los Angeles and the influx of both undocumented residents and Latino families across the city. He noted that institutions and systems need to be better equipped to work with these families and that LA is demographically “seven years ahead” of the rest of the country. View his presentation here.
2. Philanthropy can be a powerful tool to fuel innovation in place. Dr. Robert Ross, President of The California Endowment, noted that the two-generation approach is a framework that supports the Endowment’s commitment to improving child health outcomes, and that parent advocacy – parents as leaders in their own lives – is a vital principle of these efforts. Moreover, philanthropic organizations, he said, are an asset to public-private partnerships and should be tapped as fuel for change.
3. Intersectionality – gender, race, and class – is a useful lens when developing two-generation approaches. Sharing insights on the two-generation efforts of The National Crittenton Foundation, President Jeannette Pai-Espinosa highlighted the role of ‘intersectionality’ – the impact of gender, race, and class on challenges and solutions to social problems – in supporting marginalized women. Without a more nuanced lens as to why challenges persist for low-income families, Pai-Espinosa explained, we risk losing sight of solutions that incorporate a range of issues and populations.
4. Connecting workforce development and employers to two-generation approaches is vital. On the heels of the city’s recent historic minimum wage raise to $15 per hour, LAANE President Roxana Tynan highlighted the importance of bringing employers to the table while approaches and partnerships are being developed, rather than once a policy or practice is created. Without living wage jobs, she reminded us, families cannot achieve economic stability.
5. Tap state legislators to collaborate on strong policies, informed by data, to improve child and parent outcomes. State Senator Holly Mitchell; State Senate President Kevin de Leon; and Assembymember Jimmy Gomez each spoke about the importance of recognizing that multiple parts of a family – parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents – are critical to children’s success. How can we help them introduce or build in more two-generation programming to California legislation? Advocate for solutions backed by consistent data and family voices. And a visual doesn’t hurt: upon leaving, Senator Mitchell requested the Ascend Continuum for her office wall.