By Alejandra Labrado, First 5 Sacramento Program Planner
Have you ever had a great idea for your community but didn’t have the funds to support it? First 5 Sacramento offers the opportunity to make these ideas a reality with a unique mini-grant program, specifically for community driven efforts. First 5 knows that community connections can create a network and support system for families with young children. The more positive connections that families have in the community, the more successful their children will be in life. However, many families are isolated and experience barriers that prevent them from making those critical connections. With this in mind, First 5 Sacramento offers mini-grants of up to $5,000 a year to community members with creative ideas and who want to make a difference in the lives of families with young children. Since January 2016, more than 50 groups have been funded to provide activities that have helped build connections in their communities for families with young children. These groups span the entire county of Sacramento and represent diverse cultures, languages, themes, needs, and activities, all benefiting the little ones in their communities. The Learn Hmong With Me (LHWM) group has brought together and encouraged families of Hmong backgrounds to help preserve their culture and language with their small children by way of Hmong vocabulary, children songs, and celebration of cultural events. The Pops Up group is run by dads and male mentors to encourage other dads to bond with their young children through fun physical fitness activities. Although these funds are limited to community members, First 5 encourages partnerships with organizations in the community to provide support and more community connections! Some of the most popular partners have been family resource centers, libraries, and churches. These “sponsoring agencies” do not receive any funding, but they are a critical part of each CCG group’s success. Despite the fact that First 5 activities are limited to families with young children, the benefits are lifelong and the impact is communitywide. Many families that have participated in a CCG group have reported having made new friends, learned about new resources, and bonded more with their child. One group, started by three Spanish-speaking women, started the group “Aprendiendo Ingles Por Nuestros Ninos” in January 2016. Although the group began as a way to encourage parents to learn English in order to be advocates for their children, it resulted in much more than learning English. The parents in this class became so bonded that they identified the many needs of their community. As part of their grant, they decided to bring in a training on the lifesaving skills of Infant/Child CPR. It was only a few weeks later when a mother had to apply what she learned in the training and saved her child’s life. Many times, grantees are intrigued by the grants because they are passionate about a specific topic such as arts and crafts or music. However, the activities are secondary to what the real point of CCG is- community connections. As part of CCG, group leaders receive training on community leadership, support, and technical assistance throughout the term of their project. Overall, CCG has exceeded the goals of building community connections. Many group leaders have gone above and beyond their call of duty and have demonstrated community involvement, leadership, and advocacy. First 5 Sacramento continues to support the group leader’s motivation even after their CCG term has ended. The next round of CCG applications will be released in mid-February 2020. If you are interested in knowing more about CCG, see the attached flyer or visit www.first5sacramento.net . Families with young children are also welcome to visit active CCG groups. See some of the flyers of current CCG groups in your community!