Moving  the Bar on Personal Preparedness

The State of California’s Office of Emergency Services (CAL OES) allocated over $2 million to San Francisco nonprofit and faith-based organizations to engage and empower San Francisco’s most vulnerable populations in emergency preparedness. This funding enabled CBO’s & FBO’s to expand and strengthen peer-to-peer networks as well as deliver linguistically and culturally appropriate public awareness and outreach campaigns. 

The covid-19 pandemic created a pivot point in this programming from the wonderful "street as living room" of San Francisco and allowed us to really consider who is missing in traditional outreach. 

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Covid Communications: 247,946

County Context: San Francisco County has a forty-nine square mile geographic footprint for

almost 900,000 residents and is entirely urban in nature. It has high rates of non-white residents as well as limited English speakers. Its poverty rate is comparable to the state; however, the cost of living is considerably higher than elsewhere in the state, creating adverse circumstances for its residents. Earthquake is San Francisco County’s most significant natural disaster risk.

Approach: San Francisco Community Agencies Responding to Disaster (SF CARD) had planned on extensive use of in-person outreach at neighborhood events. Strict stay-at-home orders forced a redesign of outreach strategies, including recruitment of new partners and introduction of entirely new tactics to reach the target. Efforts focused on partnering with organization to train their staff, clients, volunteers and other constituents.

Key Activities: SF CARD partnered with schools, food distributions, homeless service providers

and Neighborhood Emergency Response Teams to engage targeted populations. Efforts were

offered virtually as well as in-person when appropriate.

Innovative Strategy: SF CARD directed resources to support the state’s Project Roomkey

program. In partnering with this effort, SF CARD provided disaster preparedness awareness

education and materials to over 17,000 residents who were either homeless or at risk of

homelessness as a result of the pandemic.


Through a wide variety of methodologies, the following agencies and more reached 144, 252 unique individuals during some of the strictest and longest stay at home orders in the country. The ingenuity and dedication of the staff, clients and volunteers of these organizations cannot be overstated. 

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