Volunteers and vulnerable communities at the center of Gov. Newsom’s Strategy to ready California for disaster

Sacramento, Calif. April 15, 2019 – California Volunteers, Office of the Governor, announced today the release of nine available grants for the California For All Emergency Preparedness Campaign to deploy a network of volunteers and transform how Californians get ready for the next disaster. Gov. Gavin Newsom first announced the campaign when he declared a state of emergency due to increased risk of wildfire on March 22.

The joint campaign between California Volunteers and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) invests $50 million directly into the community to bolster local resiliency and connect one million diverse and vulnerable Californians to culturally and linguistically competent support. Grants available now on California Volunteers’ website.

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“Our people centered approach will usher in a new era of emergency preparedness,” said Gov. Newsom. “We are leveraging the power of volunteerism while ensuring preparedness support and information is not only limited to those who have been privileged enough to access, understand and afford it.”

The campaign – which is directed at those experiencing social vulnerability factors including social isolation, poverty, language barriers, and other access and functional needs challenges – extends the impact of volunteer and service programs designed to meet these unique and varied needs. More communities will have access to emergency preparedness training and education.

Such programs include Citizens Emergency Response Teams (CERT), a FEMA-recognized 20-hour emergency preparedness curriculum. Administered by California Volunteers, CERT programs will increase and further the ability to train Californians. Another includes Listos, an 8-hour Spanish language curriculum, which will be expanded into additional languages and new regions. The campaign creates new disaster teams as part of existing AmeriCorps programs to provide communities with expertise and support during disasters.

“California is taking advantage of “blue sky days” to prepare our communities,” said Karen Baker, California’s Chief Service Officer and lead of California Volunteers. “A California For All is one that empowers those often on the sidelines to access the resources they need to keep themselves and their families safe, regardless of age, disability, language barrier, immigration status or income level.”

According to a 2018 report in the Journal of Gerontological Social Work, low income people, especially those who are also Black and Latino, are significantly less prepared for disaster. Furthering the point, a 2014 PPIC study found that, “whites are twice as likely as Latinos to say they are knowledgeable about disasters even though Latinos (48%) are by far the most likely racial/ethnic group to be very worried (27% Asians, 21% blacks, and 15% whites).”

Community-based organizations in counties across the state will, 1) provide emergency preparedness education and resources to their vulnerable population, and 2) facilitate a community-wide process to identify gaps and solutions in local emergency plans. Additionally, underserved communities will organize to establish and implement a new approach leveraging a peer-to-peer network that educates their own community.

“The worst of our reality spurred by growing threats of disaster brings out the best of who we are as Californians: Rising to serve. And, the governor’s strategy builds upon this truth,” said Baker.

Signed into law on February 13, 2019, Assembly Bill 72 – Budget Act of 2018 allocates $30 million for California Volunteers to distribute and $20 million for Cal OES to distribute through local assistance grants. The first phase of the effort is a request for proposals (RFP) process that aims to select partners in the next two months and begin implementation by summer. Several grants are now available with the others set to release in the weeks to follow.

Specifically, they include grants administered by:

California Volunteers

  • California For All Public Outreach & Education Preparedness Campaign Support Team ($1,360,000). RFP available, here.
  • Statewide Listos Administrator ($2,200,000). RFP released soon, here.
  • CERT/Listos Target County Support ($2,000,000). RFP released soon, here.
  • CERT/Listos Capacity Building ($8,300,000). RFP available, here.
  • 2019 California For All and Listos Preparedness Conference ($500,000). RFP available, here.
  • California For All AmeriCorps ($2,640,000). RFP released soon, here.
  • California For All Public Outreach and Education Campaign ($13,000,000). RFP released soon, here. 

Cal OES

  • Target County Partners ($8,000,000). RFP available, here.
  • Statewide County Partners ($11,000,000). RFP available, here.
  • Animal Disaster Management ($1,000,000). This project expands, statewide, a pilot project. No RFP will be issued. More details, here.

Baker added: “This is an ambitious endeavor, so we’re asking local leaders and all Californians who know their communities best to answer this call to action.”

California Volunteers is the governor’s team that harnesses the spirit of Californians to volunteer, serve and prepare. The office addresses state and local challenges by investing in service solutions and leveraging public, private, and nonprofit resources. Through AmeriCorps, disaster volunteering and preparedness, and community partnerships, California Volunteers transforms small investments into major impacts.