Founded in 1997 WCVI's Community Development Strategies (CDS) program provides civic and elected leaders with policy research, case studies/policy models, and training to community leaders to address the challenges of sustainable urban revitalization for Latino core communities. Professor Angela Acosta was CDS first director -she subsequently went on to be a Community College Trustee and leader at Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE).
During 1997-2001 CDS focused on community banking for microenterprises and non-bankable businesses and collaborated heavily with the landmark Los Angeles Community Development Bank.
From 1999 thru the present CDS embraced the urban park movement around the Los Angeles River. In this context CDS developed Latino-focused case studies and initiatives for urban parks, and urban revitalization. CDS also developed new allies in its turn to the "environment with a Latino focus" like Kathleen Rogers CEO of Earth Day Network, Irma Mujeres, President of Mujeres de las Tierra, Joe Edmiston, Director of Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, Michael Mantell, President of Resource Law Group, Raul Macias, President of Anahuak Youth Sports Association, Robert Garcia, President of City Project, and Alfredo Gonzalez of The Nature Conservancy and Landscape Architect Mia Lehrer.
CDS and its allies are proud to have been part of the approval, funding and construction of five major parks along the upper LA River:
Rio de Los Angeles Park (50 acres -2007)
Los Angeles State Historic Park (30 acres -2017)
Marsh St. Park (5 acres -2014)
Albion St. Park (under construction 5 acres), and G2-Taylor Yards (50 acres -recently purchased). A high point of this early climate change work was the 2005 CDS sponsored CA Latino Summit on the Environment held in tents at an under-construction Los Angeles State Historic Park.
In 2006 to 2010 CDS explicitly embraced the climate change mitigation movement with a solar energy initiative, advocacy for federal climate legislation and clean air legislation in Sacramento. In 2006-10 CDS sponsored Environment Days as part of five consecutive National Latino Congresos in Los Angeles, El Paso, and San Antonio.
During 2011 to the present CDS prioritized Latino youth development, climate resiliency/adaptation, and urban revitalization as priorities for Latino communities given the long term drying climate in the west and southwest states, Latinos as the emerging majority in the southwest, and increasing Latino influence in government. CDS programs like LA River Eco Interns, Urban Campouts/Earth Days Latino, Clean Water thru Oyster Aquaculture Development (CWOAD), Aguacate Alliance on LACO Rivers, ProAgua! and Latino Summit on Water Policy all underscore these recent priorities.
- End the War on Drugs
- ProAgua!: Desalination
- LA County Park Education and Outreach
- Orange County Latino Water Survey
- Latino Summit on SoCal Water Policy
- Latino Leaders Resolution on CA Water Policy