Build Thriving Communities

As major cities across the world become places for only a wealthy few to enjoy, we will take back our land for young people and families who reflect the fabric of South LA. As gentrification pushes some residents out, it is our duty to revitalize what has been neglected and deprived, and transform it into a flourishing place where we can live, learn, own, work, innovate, play, eat, shop, and inspire future generations.

Watch the Great Streets Challenge Video

SCxSC resident leaders, organizers and CoCo staffers smile for the camera after winning Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's Great Streets Challenge


In 1990, a group of community activists huddled together in a living room in South LA. Gathered by Community Coalition’s (CoCo’s) founders’ current Congressmember Karen Bass and Sylvia Castillo, the group was haunted by the raging public health crisis that had enveloped their community. The daily impacts of the crack cocaine epidemic were devastating and the city’s only response was to criminalize our community. The Black and Brown activists knew that criminalizing addiction would only make matters worse. They believed that South LA residents most impacted by the crisis should be included in creating real solutions for their community. It was from this vision that the idea of a community-driven organization was born.

Community Coalition continues to be committed to people-driven change that mobilizes the Black and Latino community in South Los Angeles. Magnifying the racial inequities that are prevalent in the City of Los Angeles’s practices and policies, CoCo wants to end institutional racism affecting Black and Brown communities. Through its work, CoCo is redefining the narrative around what it means for Black and Brown communities to be in solidarity.

It’s the story of we; it’s the story of us. Black and Brown solidarity 30 years after CoCo’s founding is about fighting the erasure of African American community members in a collaborative way that celebrates black culture and  seeks out connection to address the issues that plague all of us.

– Alberto Retana, President and CEO of Community Coalition

Our Work

The activism of the Community Coalition’s youth and adult member leaders has been the sole stimulus of economic recovery in South LA for decades. In the last 10 years, South LA voters have been the vital bloc for economic recovery by overwhelmingly supporting revenue-generating initiatives such as Proposition 30’s “Temporary Taxes to Fund Education.” At the same time, residents have electorally rallied to support justice initiatives (Prop 47 & 57) that have reduced state spending on incarceration practices in favor of greater investments in public education, youth development, and health and human services.

Community Coalition partnered with the Los Angeles City Council to launch embRACE LAwhich made history by successfully training over 40 facilitators and organizing 125 free dinners in homes and organizations throughout the city, in which everyday citizens discussed race and racism in Los Angeles. Over 1,200 residents participated in hundreds of authentic and honest conversations, each driven by the initiative’s core principle: we cannot heal what we will not face. Believing we are more powerful united together than when acting alone, the embRACE LA dialogues have grown into a movement to establish an Office of Racial Equity (ORE) in the City of Angels.

The ORE would institutionalize Los Angeles’ commitment to addressing long-standing and systematic racial disparities. The office would serve in several ways, including repairing the harms that Black and Brown communities throughout Los Angeles have suffered from previous policies that created, upheld or exacerbated systems of oppression plaguing people of color. By working together in Black and Brown solidarity, CoCo continues its work to transform the social and economic conditions that foster inequity—for ALL people.

Moving Forward

In March of this year, Community Coalition’s South Central by South Central community organizing campaign was selected as one of four winners of L.A.’s 2019 Great Streets Challenge!  The resident leaders’ focus was on executing a project that will ultimately uplift the leadership of South LA community members to change their communities for the better. The primary goals of the project were to successfully engage a mass base of Vermont-Manchester community stakeholders and South LA residents to conceptualize and lead a process that results in changing the landscape of a historic South LA community to reflect those who live there. Just as important as addressing the material conditions of the site was the need to reflect the rich legacy of culture, advancement, and success for Black and Latinx residents in jeopardy of displacement.

This accomplishment comes with $500,000 to begin transforming the Vermont/Manchester into the People’s Plaza, plus an additional $12,000 to conduct further community outreach for the next four months to finalize the concept design! The Great Streets Challenge is a program of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Great Streets Initiative to envision, collaborate on, and build transformative street infrastructure projects. The Great Streets Challenge aims to:

  • Build strong partnerships between communities and the City of Los Angeles.
  • Empower communities to develop a vision to transform their neighborhood street corridors.
  • Design streets with a community’s vision of how to improve our neighborhoods for all people.
  • Implement projects that transform our streets into safe, accessible, and vibrant public spaces in alignment with adopted City policies.




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