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Sonoma County PACEs Connection (CA)

How To: ACEs & Resiliency Fellowship


Would your community like to start an ACEs & Resiliency Fellowship to help spread awareness and build capacity for action?

Sonoma County would like to share our tools and lessons learned with you.

1.  What was the ACEs & Resiliency Fellowship?

This remarkable program is unique to Sonoma County California.  The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) & Resiliency Fellowship is a 9-month intensive interdisciplinary program designed for community members who serve as community educators on the topics of toxic stress, trauma, Adverse Childhood Experiences, or Adverse Community Experiences.

The group met in Santa Rosa, CA for one training session per month. The initial ACE Interface training spanned two days, and the was followed by Community of Practice meetings which further explored related topics. Community of Practice sessions were 2-3 hours long and offered weekdays during business hours.

Sonoma County ACEs Connection received a grant from the Health Federation of Philadelphia to establish this program, and secured many local partners to expand the offering to engage more community members over a longer period of time. 

2.  What did the application process look like?

Folks were asked to fill out a simple application confirming their commitment to participate in trainings, collect evaluation data, and deliver a minimum number of presentations to the community.  Please see the application here.  When we received 62 applications for the 25 slots we first offered, we reworked the program to ensure we didn't need to turn anyone away.  Instead, we offered both an intense Master Trainer Program and a track entailing a lower commitment called the Presenter Program.  Please see the acceptance packet here for details. 

3.  How did you fund and staff the workshops?

  • Sonoma County Office of Education provided the space, food, and logistics support for training events as an in-kind donation.
  • First 5 provided $15,000 to  specifically fund the purchase of the license for three years allowing use of the ACE Interface presentation materials. 
  • Human Services provided $5,000 via a contract to Child Parent Institute, and 10 hours a week of staff support to backbone the effort (funded for the first year by the Mobilizing Communities for Action and Resiliency grant money and then offered in-kind from Human Services).  
  • Health Services provided $5,000 in matching funds, and secured Mobilizing Communities for Action and Resiliency grant money which provided the largest chunk of the training costs at $36,000. 
  • Hanna Boys Center contributed $2,000.
  • Additional revenue was generated by fees collected from ACEs Fellows and other participating community members (sessions were open to guests) who did not request a fee waiver.  These fees were collected by Sonoma County ACEs Connection and totaled nearly $15,000.
  • Sonoma County paid ACE Interface (Dr. Rob Anda and Laura Porter's company) $56,000 for the two day ACE Interface training and a three year license.  
  • Child Parent Institute paid $7500 for other speaker fees.
  • Sonoma County ACEs Connection paid approximately $3,000 for training materials and food.  (Other fee revenue was used to support ACEs Connection activities including funding future trainings, sending representatives to conferences such as Beyond Paper Tigers, etc.)


4.  What trainers did you bring in to the community to build the capacity of your fellowship?

First we brought in Dr. Robert Anda (GA) and Laura Porter (WA) of ACE Interface to kick off our Fellowship training. This 2 day training was limited to 25 participants and a few staff.  We aren't the only community to tap into ACE Interface as our core strategy for raising awareness around ACEs and Resiliency. Check out this webinar we co-created with Childwise in Montana who also used the ACE Interface model to start a movement in their community:

Sonoma County, near San Francisco, is also fortunate to be within easy geographic reach of many leaders addressing childhood adversity and promoting resilience.  We tapped our local talent for continued "Community of Practice Sessions" to deepen our ability to implement the NEAR science. 

For example, one of our trainers, Brain Farragher, co-authored the Sanctuary books on trauma-informed organizations with Sandy Bloom.  Kanwarpal Dhaliwal of the RYSE Institute is another local expert on the racism, historical bias, and cultural humility that inspired our Fellows.  (Click here for a video of a similar training to the one she offered us.)  Oscar Chavez, Director of Sonoma County Human Services, shared his insights about engaging the community in resiliency, which we captured on video here.  

Please see our Community of Practice calendar for a full listing of our esteemed trainers.  

5.  How are you tracking presentations?  What about agencies who are going Trauma-Informed?

Fellows are asked to track presentations through a Google document, which is then imported into the Sonoma County ACEs Connection presentation tracker tool.  The tracker tool can also track the activities of agencies who are going trauma-informed.  In 2018, we'll work with agencies to update or create profiles on our tracker tool to capture new trauma-informed activities largely inspired by the work of the Fellows.  

6.  How well did the Fellowship meet its goal of raising awareness and spurring action?  What tools did you use to survey audiences and fellows?

The ACEs and Resiliency Fellowship participants used the ACE Interface program materials “Understanding Neuroscience, Epigenetics, Adverse Childhood Experiences, and Resilience (NEAR) in Building Self-Healing Communities” to train audiences across the county with a universal set of messages grounded in science.  Awareness Building Outcomes include:

1. Increase community awareness about the prevalence of ACEs and the public health impacts. Achieved: Evaluation results from audience surveys show an increase in awareness of “ACEs impact on brains and behaviors” and “why my community needs to get organized to identify and address ACEs” among other revealing measures.

2. Increase community awareness about resources and evidenced-based approaches for building resiliency. Achieved: Evaluation results from Fellowship participant surveys show an increase in knowledge of “community resources around resiliency” and trauma informed practices.” 

Please read our evaluation report here.

Find our audience survey here.

Find our Fellowship participant survey here.

7.  What are ACEs Fellows doing today, a year after the 2017 Fellowship ended?

After learning about the impacts of toxic stress on developing brains and bodies, our audiences and Fellows wanted tools for action.  Specifically, the community asked for more support in exploring trauma-informed practices, policies, and organizational structures.  

First 5, Sonoma County Office of Education, Child Parent Institute, Human Services, and Behavioral Health Services partnered to create a new capacity building offering for 2017-2018.  Two tracks are in progress:  Trauma Informed Agency Champions and Restorative Culture Collaborative II.  Please see our flyer for details.

The two trauma informed capacity building series began with Chandra Gosh Ippen's Ripple Effect on October 4th, just days before the Sonoma County wildfires began.  This community wide disaster created traumatic feelings and experiences for many, deepening the community's need for trauma responsive services.  

8.  Can I still request a training for my agency?

Yes! Please do!  We can continue to share the ACE Interface Materials through September 2019.  Our 56 trained presenters are also eager to assist.  (See the list of trainers in this post.)  Click here to fill out our online request form.

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