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California City Solutions: Rancho Cucamonga Develops Staff Training Program for Changing Workforce

August 15, 2014
This story is part of an ongoing series featuring Helen Putnam Award entries.
These entries are also now available on the League’s website as a resource for cities in a searchable database called California City Solutions. Rancho Cucamonga’s Staff Innovation Fund™ was submitted in 2013 for the Internal Administration award category.
Rancho Cucamonga faced a loss of historical knowledge, value and expertise as a large percentage of city and library staff members planned for retirement in the next few years. In order to continue providing quality services and create a sustainable future, the city decided it needed a solution for this new era of upcoming staff members. Through a combined effort, the city and two neighboring libraries developed a six-month training program and Staff Innovation Fund to enrich growth and enhance job skills.
With up to 40 percent of the city and library workforce retiring, functions like project management, budgeting, grants management, building partnerships, strategic planning, marketing and branding and more would be greatly affected. The city’s library simultaneously faced budget cuts, with much of its funding for staff development eliminated so that it could continue providing important public services.
The Rancho Cucamonga Library partnered with the Whittier Public Library applying for a California State Library FY 2011-12 training program grant to address the loss of staff development. In September 2011, Rancho Cucamonga’s Library received a grant for $50,000. The library also received a dedicated innovation fund from which staff could apply for mini grants to carry out projects for the community. Participating staff members needed to attend 10 training sessions before applying for grant funds to implement a proposed project.
The libraries partnered together to offer training programs in their respective cities and create the Staff Innovation Fund, funded by the state grant.
This two-part project focused on:
  1. Training and capacity-building in library and city staff in the areas of grant writing and management, project management, visioning, public speaking and presentations, communicating, marketing and branding; leadership; and
  2. A dedicated Innovation Fund that staff who not only completed the entire training series, but also developed an innovative and feasible idea, could apply for through the California State Library Pitch and Idea process. 
Staff members from both libraries and various city department personnel were identified to participate in the Staff Innovation Fund, creating a robust six-month training program.
Trainings included:
  • 12 Steps to Success: The Race to the Top
  • Turn on Your Creativity
  • Know Your Leadership Strengths
  • Communicating Up!
  • Grant Writing 101
  • Grant Evaluation
  • Making Public Presentations
  • Branding 101
  • Project Management
  • The State Way 
Once they completed training, staff members from both libraries, individually or by teams, could apply for the mini grants. Applications consisted of a project idea that they would like to see implemented at their respective library  that would support the library’s mission meet a community need and result in a direct positive impact. 
There were 10 grant awards in all, which included:
  • eBook Explosion (partnership between both libraries) — training on ebooks;
  • Engaging Family Storytimes — outreach to low income area of community;
  • Puppy Rhymes and Storytimes — reading to therapy dogs and humane education;
  • Welcome Baby Bundles — library kit with first book for newborns;
  • STEM Robotics Workshops — robotics camp for elementary school-aged children;
  • Careers in the Real World — career workshops for high schoolers;
  • Press Any Key — technology classes in Spanish;
  • Partnering to Grow Small Businesses — working with the Chamber of Commerce to engage small businesses; and
  • Library Lit Kit — literature kits from high schools. 
These grant projects have been so successful in both Rancho Cucamonga and Whittier that they have continued even after the end of the grant period in August 2012. Even though the Staff Innovation Fund is fairly new it has already had tremendous reach in the library community, attracting nearly 200 participants.
The city reported a change in Rancho Cucamonga and Whittier Library staff that translated into positive changes for the community; a greater profile for the Rancho Cucamonga and Whittier Library within the overall city organization; a huge boost in morale and employee engagement; and a replicable model other libraries or organizations could use for building and developing staff.
Several library directors from across California have expressedan interest in how they could replicate the program in their ownl libraries. Many expressed a need for a similar staff innovation program — showing a need for training and skills development in grant development and project management. In response to the increased interest, the California State Library decided to offer a Staff Innovation Fund project through the Rancho Cucamonga Library for seven California Library Systems.
The Rancho Cucamonga Library created a statewide Staff Innovation Fund for:
  • Pasadena Public Library;
  • Palos Verdes Library District;
  • Torrance Public Library;
  • Napa County Library;
  • St. Helena Library;
  • Sonoma County Library; and
  • Kern County Library.
Rancho Cucamonga managed the training series, presented several trainings, developed grant ideas with staff and prepared participants to pitch their grants to the state library in the FY 2012-13 Pitch an Idea grant cycle. The funds received by Rancho Cucamonga to coordinate the trainings and work with each library jurisdictions’ staff on their grant projects have been put towards an ongoing Innovation Fund in Rancho Cucamonga — allowing its staff to continue to envision and implement new ideas.

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