July 18, 2014 – San Diego, CA – The San Diego Foundation Malin Burnham San Diego Center for Civic Engagement (the Center) has granted 20 community awards between $1,000 and $5,000 to encourage the creation of projects that improve neighborhoods throughout San Diego County. Nearly $100,000 was granted in total.

The Great Neighborhood Challenge is an effort to elevate traditional public involvement and drive change in neighborhoods across the San Diego region. Launched in January 2014, 97 applications were received from across the county. A volunteer committee narrowed the group, and then the semi-finalists self-selected final awardees.

“By supporting a large variety of small-scale neighborhood projects that build upon existing community assets, the Center hopes to take an innovative approach to community organizing, civic engagement and strategic grantmaking,” shared Robert C. Dynes, chair of The San Diego Foundation’s Civic Leadership Council. “The Great Neighborhood Challenge is an opportunity to bring people together to work for a common cause, while offering new opportunities for leadership and showcasing neighborhood-level solutions that improve quality of life in some of our more under-organized communities.”

The 20 awarded projects represent neighborhoods from Vista to Chula Vista, and range from festivals and community classes, to public art and healthy eating programs. All projects are expected to be complete by June 2015. Project criteria included benefit to “under-organized communities” that do not have an equitable number of organized and recognized neighborhood groups addressing local quality of life issues.

Based on feedback and evaluations received from the final selection workshop, participants shared that they embraced the unique voting process. “I feel really good about the work that is going to result from our selections,” said Escondido resident Gary Onstad. “Even though my project did not get funded, it was exciting to be in a room where everyone was inspired to positively change their neighborhood. These were everyday people with simple ideas about how to make the space they live, work and play more beautiful and user-friendly.”

The San Diego Center for Civic Engagement supports projects that increase and strengthen our region’s capacity for civic engagement and community problem-solving. The Great Neighborhood Challenge is one of several civic engagement projects the San Diego Center for Civic Engagement is supporting to boost community problem-solving and improve our region’s quality of life. For more information, visit sdfoundation.org/GNC.

About the Grantees

All Souls Vista, Vista
All Souls Vista is an event where residents can honor and celebrate their deceased loved ones in a progressive, artistic and ceremonial way. In answer to an outcry for more arts and performance in Vista, this community collaborative event will offer all-inclusive workshops that focus on educating participants (including children) on float, altar, and festival puppetry creation.

Building Strength and Community in Rolando Park, San Diego
Rolando Park is a pocket neighborhood with no true civic, social or commercial center where neighbors can meet or learn about local happenings. This project will create a greater sense of community and pride in Rolando Park by encouraging participation, increasing leadership and educating residents about community resources with increased communication outreach and community events.

Chula Vista Brigade, Chula Vista
The Chula Vista Brigade is a newly formed group of volunteers comprised and mainly operated by high school students under the supervision of two adults. The Brigade will provide students with vetted volunteer opportunities to fulfill their high school requirement for community service. This group will also support local nonprofits in need of volunteer service.

College Festival, City Heights in San Diego
Current City Heights students are concerned about their educational outcomes and those of their younger family members and friends. This festival will provide valuable information to residents about the benefits of higher education and how to make this a reality.

Cultivating Community Change, Spring Valley
To cultivate community change, this group is developing a teaching garden where local experts and trained volunteers demonstrate how to cultivate, harvest and prepare backyard produce to supplement limited resources and improve family nutrition. The goal of this effort is to educate and engage residents, establishing a sense of pride and place.

EB Space, Barrio Logan in San Diego
EB Space is a small corner storefront with a roll-up window and counter that will act as a multimedia library and an indoor/outdoor classroom. Through a collection of books, videos, websites and other digital media that focus on grassroots neighborhood development strategies, Barrio Logan residents can explore resources and participate in collaborative workshops to improve their neighborhood.

Eucalyptus Park’s Dog Park, Chula Vista
Eucalyptus Park’s Dog Park project is a community driven endeavor that seeks to enhance the quality of life of the community by creating a space for dogs and their owners to play, exercise and develop a sense of pride.

Focus on Imperial Avenue: Youth Perspectives Through Photography and Public Art, Logan Heights in San Diego
Of the photos submitted by the Logan Heights students who participate in this project’s free photography class, seven photos will be printed on donated vinyl banners and displayed on the outside of Imperial Avenue buildings. By publicly displaying photographs that showcase the diversity of the area, the project hopes to increase pride of place, help bridge neighborhood divides, discourage tagging, attract customers and boost the local economy.

Hurry Up and Wait, Clairemont in San Diego
This is a creative writing course in Clairemont for veterans from multiple generations to come together in one class and use storytelling as a vehicle to facilitate conversation and understanding. Participants will write, edit and perform original stories about their experiences in the armed forces to create an environment of safe, open expression.

Get Ready for Kindergarten Boot Camp (KBC), Chula Vista
KBC will work with 4-5 year olds to enhance their cognitive skills, social-emotional development and self-help skills pertaining to school readiness. This free program at the South Chula Vista Public Library increases parent awareness of important skills required for school. Families will be better prepared and have access to free resources for their children entering Kindergarten.

Leadership Conference: “Creando Liderazgo Sin Fronteras,” Sherman Heights in San Diego
This Sherman Heights conference will offer free workshops on tenant’s rights, immigration rights, financial literacy, living wages, health, and other community issues (bullying, mental health, etc.). Several community leaders and decision makers will serve as speakers with the goal to empower participants and effectively help them decide to be more actively involved as leaders in the community.

Menlo Mini Park, City Heights in San Diego
A unified group of residents will transform an unmaintained, littered lot into a beautiful parklet. This mini park will provide young people a safer passageway to school, enhance the beauty of the area by mimicking the natural landscape through thoughtful design and serve as a gathering place for future Menlo Park neighborhood meetings.

National City Goes Green, National City
This project brings teachers, students and families together to improve health. 1,000 Granger Junior High School students will be educated about healthy options through green drinks, organic taste testing and the organization of a farmer’s market activity. Students will learn about food justice and learn that all deserve to be healthy no matter what neighborhood they live in.

Ocean Connectors South Bay Clean Up, National City
This project will improve the quality of life for South Bay residents by beautifying and restoring the Bayshore Bikeway, a multi-use path in the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Ocean Connectors is a grassroots program that engages sixth grade students from National City, their families, teachers, volunteers, and local wildlife experts in habitat restoration.

Parents-Students-Residents Organization (PSRO), City Heights in San Diego
PSRO is dedicated to creating a safe school and neighborhood environment in City Heights by hosting parent/resident leadership training, increasing parent engagement in the education system and supporting student studies. PSRO will act as a bridge between the community, schools, teachers and students to promote community engagement around education and the well-being of students.

Platicás: Hombre a Hombre, Vista
Platicás: Hombre a Hombre (Talks: Man to Man) serves Latino males grades 5-12. Platicás is a neighborhood activity hosting Latino fathers at their son’s school sites. The purpose of Platicás is to assist Latino fathers in developing effective communication skills leading to improved relationships between family and school representatives. All sessions will be conducted in Spanish.

Relevé (“Lifted”): a City Heights Production, City Heights in San Diego
Relevé will encourage active transportation and connect biking advocates for collaborative efforts that empower local citizens through bike education and the creation of a public bike work stand in City Heights. This stand will provide tools for bike commuters and represents the unity of a community and uplifts the individual spirit.

Pop Street Project: HeART of Azalea Park, City Heights in San Diego
The Pop Street Project: HeART of Azalea Park will bring residents together to revitalize and re-brand Poplar Street as an arts and eco-district.  Working together, residents will lead art and landscape improvements along the corridor (murals, mosaic street furniture, xeriscaped parkways). This will increase resident engagement and acknowledgment of Poplar as a space for positive, family-friendly activities.

Thrive Lemon Grove (TLG), Lemon Grove
TLG, a grass-roots community group, aims to provide a voice for the Lemon Grove community. The goal is to work with elected officials and community organizations to bring a full spectrum of improvements to the City. These include encouraging community involvement, supporting healthy initiatives, and supporting the revitalization of our aging neighborhoods via outreach and collaborative fairs.

UArt Project, El Cajon
UArt Project will collaborate with the City to recruit community residents and student artists to paint five utility boxes in the Downtown El Cajon area. The purpose of the project is to beautify the streets of El Cajon to encourage a safe environment for walking and biking and decrease the amount of graffiti in the area.

About the Malin Burnham San Diego Center for Civic Engagement
The Malin Burnham San Diego Center for Civic Engagement ensures broad, dynamic community participation and ownership of shared solutions by incubating ideas, leading social change and championing Our Greater San Diego Vision to improve the quality of life for the San Diego region. For additional information, visit sdfoundation.org/CCE.

About The San Diego Foundation
Founded in 1975, The San Diego Foundation’s purpose is to promote and increase effective and responsible charitable giving. The Foundation manages more than $660 million in assets, more than half of which reside in permanent endowment funds that extend the impact of today’s gifts to future generations. Since its inception, The Foundation has granted more than $876 million to the San Diego region’s nonprofit community. For additional information, please visit The San Diego Foundation at sdfoundation.org.

Vince Heald, Beck Ellman Heald, 858-453-9600, vheald@behmedia.com
Heather Back, The San Diego Foundation, 619-235-2300, heather@sdfoundation.org