The State of California recognizes the effect of underinvestment and systemic discrimination on California communities. The State’s social, economic, and environmental priorities address these inequities to ensure a better quality of life for all Californians. However, many under-resourced communities lack the staff capacity, partnerships, or resources to address these priorities without assistance securing funding and implementing projects and policies. Taking a critical step to redress these inequities, State agencies are increasingly supporting under-resourced jurisdictions through capacity building and technical assistance.
What are the Technical Assistance Guidelines?
Recognizing the importance of technical assistance (TA) in meeting its climate and equity goals, the State enacted Senate Bill 1072 (2018, Leyva), directing the California Strategic Growth Council (SGC) to develop “Technical Assistance Guidelines for State Agencies” (TA Guidelines). The legislation states that the TA Guidelines should provide “procedures and standards for State agencies providing direct technical assistance to under-resourced communities.” Under-resourced communities are disadvantaged or low income communities as defined by Assembly Bill 1550. Compiling best practices from a variety of State agencies, the TA Guidelines serve as a resource for State agency staff who are designing a new TA program for under-resourced communities, or who aim to expand or improve their current TA services.
For the purposes of this document, TA is defined as the process of providing targeted support to an agency, organization, or community with a development need or resource gap. TA may be delivered in many ways, such as one-on-one consultation, small group facilitation, technical resources and analysis, or through a web-based clearinghouse. TA is one of the most effective methods for building the capacity of an organization.
How were the TA Guidelines Created?
In early 2020, SGC convened a TA Work Group that included staff from 13 State agencies to gather input from TA and capacity building experts whose work cover a variety of sectors and issue areas. SGC staff worked closely with this group to ensure that the TA Guidelines reflect a broad range of experiences with TA and will be relevant and applicable to diverse programs, grant types, and community stakeholders. During this time, SGC also hosted listening sessions with representatives of approximately 40 entities, including local and regional government agencies, professional organizations, non-profit organizations, philanthropies, and community groups to better understand barriers to achieving community-driven climate and equity goals. These conversations both informed the development of the TA Guidelines and provided staff with information to help SGC enhance its own TA capacity.
SGC opened the TA Guidelines for public comment in July 2020 and incorporated that input into the most recent version. SGC will work with agency and community partners to update the document at least every two years.
What is the Role of the California Strategic Growth Council?
With a guiding vision of healthy, thriving, and resilient communities for all, the California Strategic Growth Council (SGC) is a cabinet-level State body whose mission is to coordinate and work collaboratively with public agencies, communities, and stakeholders to achieve sustainability, equity, economic prosperity, and high quality of life for all Californians. SGC leads several policy initiatives, administers grant programs, and works to support capacity building and assistance to local communities.
SGC established the California Climate Investments Technical Assistance Program (CCI TA) in 2015 with an initial appropriation by the Legislature to support TA for applicants from disadvantaged communities to apply to SGC’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program. Building on the success of that effort, the Legislature expanded its appropriation for TA in 2016 to support grant applicants across the suite of California Climate Investment grant programs, which are funded through the State’s Cap-and-Trade auction proceeds. Since its creation, CCI TA has supported low-income and disadvantaged communities in applying for a variety of funding programs spanning transportation, housing, energy, agriculture, urban greening, community-driven research, and climate resilience. Through this program, SGC provides TA adapted to the needs of each grant program, including application assistance, implementation assistance, and capacity building support.
The TA Guidelines are a critical component of SGC’s Racial Equity Action Plan, which staff developed in 2018-2019 through participation in the Capitol Cohort, a one-year pilot training program for California State agencies led by the non-profit Government Alliance on Race and Equity. The plan outlines concrete actions that SGC is taking to achieve racial equity in the organization’s operations, programs, and policies in order to achieve its vision that all people in California live in healthy, thriving, and resilient communities regardless of race. TA is a critical tool for advancing social and racial equity by increasing access to State funding programs and other opportunities for the state’s most under-resourced and historically under-invested communities. By providing a roadmap for State agencies to implement effective and equitable TA and capacity building activities, the TA Guidelines build the capacity of State agencies to advance California’s equity goals.