In a sense, the South Stockton Promise Zone was created by history. Like many urban centers in the U.S., the history of the city of Stockton has been a tale of two cities; the original city that was founded, and the city that was built to escape that foundation. Before the current time of great opportunity for Stockton stood a century of troubles which journeys through struggles against institutional discrimination, disinvestment, and the dismantling of families and communities.
The Reinvent South Stockton Coalition (RSSC) was born out of an effort in the early 2010s to designate South Stockton as a Promise Zone, a HUD grant initiative created during the Obama administration to revitalize urban communities that had historically been disinvested. Led by former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs (then City Council Member), the Coalition began as a grassroots movement to genuinely and sincerely pursue the will of the people and empower it with political will and support from community organizations. The coalition first rallied around an issue of public safety prioritized by the community, closing a corner market that had become the epicenter for dangerous and illicit activities within the neighborhood. By advocating for the community and partnering with police, code enforcement, and local organizations the coalition was successful in changing policy and closing down the market. This victory led the coalition realizing that through a collective effort, effective and enduring change could be made.
In 2015 the Stockton City Council partnered with PolicyLink to guide the coalition in their efforts to create a data driven, community-informed strategy by using the Results-Based Accountability framework, which had proven effective in other collective impact models in Baltimore, San Antonio, and other large urban areas. When he was elected Mayor of Stockton in 2016, Mayor Tubbs outlined a thirty-year plan to bring equity to Stockton by aligning the work of Coalition through a collective impact model governed by a distributive leadership model. At the core of this plan was a data-driven, community led collective impact approach.