Photograph of data chat maps that were held in Pomona, CA

The Early Childhood Ecosystem Transformation Accelerator Social Impact Lab supports Pomona in building an environment where all children can prosper. UCLA and partners from across Pomona collaborate in different engagement efforts to learn about the current ecosystem experienced by Pomonans and identify different strategies that can promote sustainable changes for the communities centered around early childhood development. Through Parent and Community Interviews, Community Data Chats, and Creative Assemblies, different community members are able to share their experiences living and working in Pomona and identify the key drivers that impact the development of children and families. The project is informed by qualitative and quantitative research efforts to holistically understand what it is like for a parent and a city to raise children in Pomona and how to improve the ecosystem to drive sustainable impacts that allow everyone to flourish. 

Parent and Community Interviews

As part of the Early Childhood Ecosystems Transformation Accelerator work in Pomona, the UCLA Team conducted interviews with different members of the community. The team interviewed parents who had children ages 0-5 and community leaders that included government personnel, policy folks, those in education work, and hospital leaders among others. The goal of the parent interviews was to understand the types of resources, services, and programs that parents have available to them to help their children grow and thrive. In asking parents about the resources available to them in Pomona, our goal was also to learn about the different barriers that families face in obtaining resources and the various facilitators that make it easier for parents to use services and resources for their families and young children.

The community member interviews were conducted to understand the role of different leaders in Pomona and the different ways they engaged with the community as well as learning about their perspectives and experiences from a systems/program background. All interviews lasted about an hour in length and participation was completely voluntary. All parent participants that were interviewed were given $50 in gift cards as a recognition for their time and lived experiences shared with our team. All of the information shared with our team was invaluable to our efforts in the ongoing work happening in Pomona to reimagine an ecosystem where all children are able to thrive and achieve their full potential. Thank you to all of our interview participants for sharing their stories!

Community Data Chats

Data Chats provide a bridge between Data and the community! There is a common misconception within research that community members have a difficult time understanding data, but researchers also have a responsibility of presenting data that is accessible and understood by the community they are sharing information with. The UCLA Team held a Community Data Chat on January 31st, 2024 where data collected from Pomona were displayed through three large maps that were shared with members of the community to understand the different experiences of families, community members, and residents living in various neighborhoods in Pomona. 

The maps used through the Data Chat included: 

  • A map featuring the National Neighborhood Equity Index (NNEI) that showed the different barriers to equitable development that currently exist for children. 
  • The Early Developmental Instrument (EDI) Map; EDI is used in kindergarten classrooms to measure children’s developmental information across five different domains that include: Physical Health and Well-being, Social Competence, Emotional Maturity, Language and Cognitive Development, and Communication and General Knowledge.
  • A map featuring both the EDI and NNEI to measure patterns of resilience in Pomona and understand the areas in Pomona where children are outperforming what’s expected of them, despite present barriers to development. 
Photograph of three maps that were used in community data chats.
Participants explored the data on large maps and used post-it notes and markers to annotate and reflect upon the data.

In the Data Chat, participants were able to spend 30 minutes looking at each map in groups of about 4 to 6 and discuss the different reactions they experienced in looking and learning about the data. Some of the central themes that were shared by participants included there being a consistent feeling of hope in Pomona shaped by the diverse community and the strong values in supporting one another. Many participants also shared concerns over safety, existing perceptions of safety, and housing affordability being a key community issue that drives families to experience stress and may even contribute to pushing locals out of Pomona. Resilience patterns were attributed to a strong community presence with one participant sharing that “Pomona people make a difference.”

Creative Assemblies

Community members, residents, and families from Pomona had an opportunity to come together in a physical shared space for an all-day Creative Assembly to think about and discuss the different issues that impact their daily lives and collectively brainstorm different solutions. 

Photograph of a group of Creative Assembly participants holding up artwork
Participants used art to visualize the concepts and issues that impact their daily lives.

Gabriel Kahan, with the Berggruen Institute, facilitated three Creative Assembly sessions on April 3rd, 5th, and 9th and engaged in a space where participants from all different backgrounds came together to identify complex situations derived from their lived experiences and used art and dialogue to explore opportunities for lasting, sustainable change. 

About the Early Childhood Ecosystems Transformation Accelerator Social Impact Lab in Pomona, CA

As one of our Social Impact Labs, the Early Childhood Ecosystems Transformation Accelerator in Pomona, CA partners with communities to understand and transform the early childhood ecosystem so that all children can thrive. While most interventions focus on incremental changes to the early childhood service system, we take a fundamentally different approach—transforming the entire ecosystem. Through a variety of different participatory approaches, we engage all aspects of the ecosystem to better understand what shapes early childhood health, and work together with parents, families, community leaders and organizations to co-create strategies to build a future where all children thrive.

Learn more about the Lab

About the Center for Healthier Children, Families & Communities

The UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families & Communities combines cutting-edge research, policy development, and community-based practices to reduce disparities in child outcomes, and improve the lives of children, their families and their communities. Housed at UCLA, one of the preeminent research universities in the world the Center’s transdisciplinary approach is critical to solving the complex and entrenched problems faced by children and youth. For over 25 years, we’ve used our expertise and research to reveal and frame systemic issues in new ways, re-imagining what’s possible, and developing innovative approaches that empower community leaders and partners to bring about lasting, positive change for children and families. For more information, please visit the Center for Healthier Children, Families & Communities website.