CoLab’s First Iteration
The first iteration of CoLab is in partnership with the City of Gonzales. The Gonzales CoLab supports and builds on the innovative, youth-centered community-building processes currently underway in this small, rural community of 9,000 residents in Monterey County.
The Gonzales CoLab will mobilize higher education’s research, data-gathering, analysis and interpretation resources to strengthen the decision-making processes, quality, and positive impact of programs in Gonzales. The primary goal is to engage in collaborative inquiry to a) analyze and reflect on current efforts, and b) make changes/improvements that enhance the community’s capacity to be more thoughtful and grow from their experiences in public innovation.
In addition, the higher education partners will be able to identify and bring into the conversation other best practices from communities across the country and across the globe, who are similarly experimenting with innovative approaches to community-building and to enhancing the quality of life for their residents.
CoLab will bring students from MIIS and CSUMB to Gonzales as collaborators and research assistants. The presence of young college students will help connect the dots, in a very personal and human way, between the youth of Gonzales today, and their own future as college graduates and professionals.
Gonzales is one of the most innovative cities in California, and perhaps the U.S. as a whole, regarding youth development and smart economic development. It’s an ideal place to seek new kinds of collaborations between communities, students, and faculty.Kent Glenzer, CoLab Planning Team
Community-Building, The Gonzales Way
CoLab seeks to identify ways that higher education can add value and capacity to strengthen the city’s signature efforts in youth-centered community development, collectively known as The Gonzales Way: raising happy, healthy, successful kids!
There are currently a number of on-going efforts which seek to bring The Gonzales Way to life. Altogether, these include some 27 different programs, and represent a financial commitment by the city greater than the budget of the fire department. Some of these include:
- The Gonzales Youth Council, which provides a voice for youth in public decision-making;
- The Friends, Families & Neighbors Playgroup, which seeks to strengthen the informal network of care-givers;
- City-sponsored Afterschool and School-Break programs, which provide a full slate of educational and recreational activities for youth when school is not in session; and;
- The design of a future Youth Innovation Center.
The community-building approach also extends into the City’s approach to its local economic development. The city has created a “Community Grant Program” to provide funding for projects identified and realized by neighbors and community members. This community-building ethic also informs the city’s emerging plans for the additional revenue generated by the new cannabis tax. It also guides the city’s planning for the annexation of 400 acres, and the building of new homes.