Orange County’s demographics have changed. A third of the county’s overall population is Latino, and it now boasts the third largest Asian American population in the nation, behind only Los Angeles and Santa Clara counties. Nearly 50 percent of Orange County residents speak a language other than English at home. The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) has a duty to serve all constituents and residents and “keep Orange County moving.” Additionally, OCTA needed to be compliant with federal Title VI and Environmental Justice statutes by ensuring diverse communities have the chance to take full advantage of services and also include them in the planning, designing and decision-making processes. In order to achieve these goals, it was crucial the agency develop a diverse communities outreach program strategy and work plan.
FSB was retained in February, 2014 to develop a strategic two-year communications and outreach plan to engage ethnically and socio-economically diverse communities in Orange County. The plan consisted of various objectives derived from research and analysis. Objectives supported overarching goals and included the following:
- Initiate contact with new diverse organizations every quarter
- Increase awareness of OCTA as a responsible leader as it relates to the county’s transportation and funding
- Convene an external committee comprised of community leaders to strategically develop outreach plans, future plans, and more, to engage diverse communities in Orange County
- Recruit OCTA employees to join a diversity ambassador group after two years, then double the number the following year (to represent communities speaking Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean and Mandarin, as well as African American and American Indian communities)
- Add to the diversity outreach team with external resources focused on diverse media and community outreach and business community outreach
Guiding strategies were developed to ensure objectives would be met by 2016. Messages, tactics and metrics were developed for each objective specific to Asian, Latino, Senior and LGBT communities as well as people with disabilities. The plan was internally adopted by OCTA leadership in early 2015. In addition to serving as a strategic communications and outreach roadmap, the plan has been widely accepted as a diverse communities guide for best practices.