Strengthening Civic Identity Through Improved Community Engagement
The City of East Palo Alto seeks to enhance community engagement and facilitate participation in the civic process. To support this work, the City enlisted FUSE Executive Fellow Jerry Chang, who developed a series of new tools and strategies aimed at building partnerships and strengthening collaboration with community members. During the COVID-19 crisis, Jerry helped establish virtual community meetings, including a mayoral town hall and public meetings to discuss community and economic development. He also trained staff on how to engage with residents using digital platforms.
When the pandemic exacerbated many of the hardships faced by residents seeking to access city services and connect with each other, Jerry devised digital engagement strategies aimed at fostering connectedness and building community. He also launched an ongoing series of community conversations called “Elevate EPA,” which invited city and community leaders, residents, and resource partners to offer perspectives on the challenges facing East Palo Alto. Hearing a diverse range of viewpoints enabled participants to deepen their understanding of the issues, and, ultimately, consider a broader spectrum of possible solutions. Jerry also facilitated the formation of several “innovation teams” to develop, prototype, and launch promising community projects, including a summer internship program for local youths and free publicWiFi for over 4,000 community members.