Development of the Promotores Academy
The Chula Vista Community Collaborative (CVCC) was established in 1993 and is located in Chula Vista, California, in the San Diego County region. The CVCC works to support and strengthen families through a network of five family resource centers. The CVCC has had a promotor/a program component since 2000.
A review of the program in 2007 revealed that the group needed revitalization. New administration at the CVCC recognized the potential of the promotor/a model and its value in reaching the community. The CVCC strives to increase the community’s capacity through education, outreach, and community engagement. In looking at the CVCC’s promotor/a program, the new executive director wanted to further develop the group and motivate them to begin initiatives and expand community work.
A new coordinator was hired to assist in overseeing the promotores. Therefore, efforts were made to increase recruitment and bring new members to the group. The promotores and the coordinator participated in a strategic session to develop a work plan and goals. Promotores began to reach out to the community with various messages, such as the importance of health insurance, family resource center available services, and a campaign to help enroll people in the CalFresh program for food assistance. CVCC soon began to receive funding for community education projects. These projects all provided training on the specific health topics that the promotores would take out to the community. For example, CVCC was funded to conduct outreach and education in the community around breast cancer and the need for prevention screening/mammograms. Promotores were trained on breast cancer, what is cancer, how it’s diagnosed, screening, and treatment.
However, promotor/a leadership recognized the need for training that helped promotores understand the value of their work and improve their outreach. CVCC felt there was a gap in the training, in that it did not help the promotores prepare for the work they were required to do out in the community. The training did not cover basic skills such as how to take the information out to the community, how to reach (outreach) out to residents, and how to talk about the information (presentation skills). There was a clear need to better understand the role of promotores working in community.
The executive director conducted extensive research on the promotor/a model and the work of promotores around the country. This was the impetus for the development of a training curriculum that covered the core competencies of promotores. The training was titled “Promotora Academy,” and was designed as a two-day training that covered seven topics, each topic requiring two hours. Training topics included an introduction to promotores work, outreach strategies, understanding the community, advocacy, goal setting and leadership, communication skills, and presentation skills. The training is interactive and allows promotores to practice each of the skills learned. The Academy was designed to train up to 20 promotores in each two-day session; an average of 16-18 promotores attended each of the trainings. The Academy was very well received by promotores and gained a tremendous momentum and popularity. Soon, the training was requested by various other organizations in and out of San Diego County.
The training was a tremendous asset to the promotores and based on their evaluations, it helped them increase their ability to understand their role in reaching the community with outreach and education program. The training continued to be refined to better meet the needs of the promotores and the various programs’ needs. Topics added include social determinants of health, understanding community and resources, effective communication, and health basics. The Academy is now named “Promotores Academy” and because of its recognized popularity has now been conducted in various locations in San Diego as well as in various counties in California. Almost 300 promotores have been trained in the Promotores Academy curriculum and based on training evaluations, its success in increasing core competencies continues to grow.