Far too often, the people and communities hardest hit by natural disasters are those least equipped to survive them. In our work for the state of California’s emergency preparedness campaign “Listos California,” we helped highly vulnerable populations get ready for wildfires, earthquakes and floods, and addressed the urgent public health crisis of COVID, as the pandemic started and raged on through 2020 and 2021.

To help, we worked closely with community-based organizations who received grants to work with targeted populations, including people of color, people with disabilities, agricultural workers, rural communities, and older Californians.

We developed an informal advisory group from distinct populations to guide our work.

We worked from public opinion research to create foundational messages, a look and feel for the campaign and an array of curricula tools, community-based toolkits and more, including:

  • 1-hour and 15 minute long presentations
  • A 16-panel Disaster Readiness Guide that was distributed statewide in large quantities
  • A mental health guide – called First Aid Kit for the Mind
  • A 7-day text-based course in x-number of languages
  • A guide for unhoused Californians on how to prepare for disaster (based on survey-research with homeless people throughout the state)
  • County resource guides

We also worked with state and county officials to create customized Disaster Directories for all 58 counties in the state in both English and Spanish. Each directory provides: a brief profile of the county’s disaster risks; relevant vulnerabilities of its residents; state and local alert resources; resources for people who are medically dependent on electricity; as well as state and county resources on COVID-19.


Aiming to bridge the gap between people in harm’s way and alerts and information that can save lives, we created customized, research-based curriculum, easily accessible from the online resource directory we also built in addition to print, and other, formats.


  • Our team worked closely with CalOES staff as well as county officials, community based organizations, and other local leaders to ensure the content of all curriculum matched the unique needs and priorities of each county and each targeted community.
  • Working with the same partners, we helped select various distribution methods to meet the state’s residents where they are. These included grocery store campaigns to distribute literature, text message campaigns, 1-1 phone calls, billboards, transit stop signs, wrapped trailers, social media platforms, and more.


  • Prior to this campaign, the state of California had never worked so closely with each county, or with targeted communities, to produce such customized products. Though the campaign has been paused, the materials are still in use by stakeholders statewide.