Lift To Rise is also an evolution of the long-held belief that we can do better by the people who call the Coachella Valley home, the very people that grow our food and make this such an amazing place to visit for the 1,000,000+ people who do so each year.
Our most recent iteration toward achieving that goal goes back to 2014–15, when a group of community-based organizations serving eastern Riverside County’s Coachella Valley — including FIND Food Bank, United Way of the Desert, the Regional Access Project Foundation, and the Desert Healthcare District — came together to discuss using a collective impact approach to turn the tide of mounting disadvantages faced by too many local residents.
In its simplest terms, collective impact recognizes that we can accomplish more working together than any entity can achieve on its own. It’s also a way of using data, trial-and-error, evidence, and group decision-making in working toward the kind of large-scale change required to turn any such tide.
The community concerns that brought this group together are part of a complex web of disadvantage that means a life lived in or near poverty for more than half of Coachella Valley residents. Linked problems such as under- and unemployment, low incomes, food insecurity, poor health outcomes, and lack of adequate transportation, health, and affordable housing infrastructure are interconnected and mutually reinforcing, creating a vicious cycle in residents’ lives.
Preparing for takeoff
In spring 2015 our early local work received an injection of support through FIND Food Bank’s participation in Collaborating for Clients (C4C), an initiative to improve outcomes related to family stability largely funded by The Laura and John Arnold Foundation. C4C emerged as part of Feeding America’s national network awareness that improving long-term food security begins by recognizing that food insecurity does not exist in isolation and cannot be solved without addressing the underlying causes of hunger — namely, poverty and growing inequality across America.
FIND Food Bank in collaboration with several community partners was selected as one of only five pilot sites nationally to participate in Feeding America’s C4C initiative. C4C provided much-needed, early infrastructure funding to FIND Food Bank. This ultimately allowed Lift to Rise to emerge and embrace the core tenets of collective impact, including undertaking a local, comprehensive needs assessment to set an empirical baseline to better understand the challenges our residents face and identify key indicators around which we could organize our work.