One America - Leadership Development in Interethnic Relations

Program: Leadership Development in Interethnic Relations, Los Angeles, CA
Contact(s): Jan Armstrong, Program Director: (213) 748-2022
Purpose: To equip people with the skills and background to effectively address race relations in their own communities

Background Program Operations Outcomes


In response to many calls for crisis intervention, mediations and other race-related conflicts, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) established the Leadership Development in Interethnic Relations (LDIR) Program in 1991. Since the program's inception, established civil and human rights organizations representing several ethnic groups have joined APALC to form a partnership to aid planning, set policy, and review program operations for LDIR. LDIR is independently funded by several foundations and corporations.

Program Operations

The LDIR program consists of three major elements--adult training, alumni activity and youth training. The adult training course consists of 25 to 30 participants who engage in both classroom-style training as well as experiential learning. In the classroom setting, participants are taught about a variety of topics including cultural awareness, racism and prejudice, ethnic histories, community organizing, public policy, conflict resolution and media relations. In the experiential segment, participants break into small groups of four or five and implement projects in their "community" (defined as where participants work, live, or worship). In the 1995-96 program year, these projects included working with the Los Angeles Police Department Explorers to upgrade their cultural awareness curriculum and designing a training program that combines art and cultural awareness at Marshall High School. Alumni of the LDIR program also are active in the community after they graduate from the adult training courses. They help to build coalitions to influence public policy and conduct community education programs. In 1995, alumni sponsored a conference for educators called "Immigrants in Los Angeles," and in 1996, they organized to attempt to defeat Proposition 209. Additionally, many of the almost 200 alumni of the program return to assist in the adult-training seminar. LDIR's youth curriculum was implemented at Gardena High School in 1997. At this school, students purchased multicultural books for the library, and they also bought race-related books for the Gardena City Library. LDIR also trained teachers and administrative personnel to facilitate a course of study in which 30 students discuss racial and ethnic conflict and learn ways to solve problems peacefully.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

Now in its seventh year of existence, LDIR has trained nearly 200 adults and 60 teens in the areas of cultural awareness and community building. Over 3,500 people have been trained through LDIR's shorter-term projects. In an effort to further strengthen the program, LDIR is examining methods to quantify outcomes, and it is building relationships with other communities throughout the country where the curriculum and programs can be replicated.

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