All posts by Jose Diaz

Grant aims to impact large groups of people

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities hosted the Fellows at their Washington, D.C. headquarters in June
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities hosted the Fellows at their Washington, D.C. headquarters in June

Poverty reduction continues to be an elusive challenge for government administrations. In 1981, when more than a fifth of the population was living below the poverty line, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) was created to analyze how federal budget policies affect low-income Americans. Sol Price, with his interest in tax policy and income inequality, became an early supporter, serving on the CBPP board of directors. Price Philanthropies has continued to support CBPP through multi-year grants, recently approving a five year matching grant that will bolster the just launched Policy Futures initiative.

Many policies are written for short-term gain to help politicians get re-elected. Policy Futures will analyze the effects of those policies over the long-term, five to 10 years down the road, focusing on six policy areas:

  • Long-Term Fiscal Challenges – How federal and state budget cycles affect government’s ability to deliver services to its residents, what policies are most effective at enhancing opportunity in an equitable manner, and how governments can address long-term fiscal imbalances without increasing poverty or reducing avenues of opportunity.
  • Poverty and Opportunity – Policy Futures will analyze and develop new policies to reduce poverty (especially child poverty) and advance reforms to increase opportunity.
  • Retirement Security – Social Security and Disability Insurance are facing shortfalls. Many current and future retirees will not have enough capital to sustain themselves. The initiative will analyze and promote effective policies for retirement security, especially for people of modest means.
  • Full Employment – Pursue full employment as a primary policy goal to help more low-income people secure jobs and achieve higher wages.
  • Climate Change – Policies to address climate change such as a carbon tax would raise energy costs, which would disproportionately harm low income families. Policy Futures will examine ways to use a portion of the revenues from such policies to offset the increased cost burdens on low-income households, without lessening their incentive to conserve, through tax credits and other targeted subsidies.
  • Health Care – Now that the Affordable Health Care has been enacted, Policy Futures will pursue policies to extend coverage to those who remain uninsured, as well as ways to slow the growth of health care costs.

CBPP President Bob Greenstein said he expects Policy Futures will have significant impacts on improving the lives of low income Americans. He points to the past successes of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Since the Center began operations, the poverty rate in the United States has decreased about 7 percentage points — nearly one-third — despite erosion in real wages for low income workers. Greenstein said the poverty rate decrease is primarily due to three public policy changes that CBPP has championed: expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, reform and expansion of SNAP (Food Stamps), and creation of a low-income component of the Child Tax Credit. The two tax credits now lift 10 million people out of poverty each year, and SNAP lifts 5 million children out of poverty. This year the State of California is instituting its own Earned Income Tax Credit, which will help 2 million Californians have more money in their pockets.

Because of the size of California’s population and its national influence, Stacy Dean, VP for Food Assistance Policy, says CBPP pays particular attention to how key anti-poverty programs are working in the state. When the Affordable Care Act became law, CBPP designed and promoted an innovative way that states could screen their SNAP caseloads, identify people eligible for Medicaid, and enroll them virtually automatically.  California adopted the CBPP-designed option; it screened the CalFresh caseload (California’s version of SNAP) and instead of waiting for people to apply, notified the SNAP participants it identified as being Medi-Cal eligible and offered them health insurance. This resulted in nearly 200,000 people, most of whom were previously uninsured, signing up for Medi-Cal without needing to submit new paperwork.

CBPP has also played an instrumental role in helping schools in high-poverty areas offer free breakfast and lunch to all students through the School Meals program. CBPP designed a proposal, which Congress approved on a bipartisan basis, to allow schools with high concentrations of kids qualifying for SNAP to serve school meals free to all children and receive federal reimbursement, without the previous onerous documentation. This initiative has resulted in more than 14,000 schools nationwide adopting this option, allowing them to provide school meals free, without paperwork or stigma, to 6.7 million children. Predictably, attendance at participating schools has gone up along with academic scores, according to Dean.

Policy Futures is also creating a leadership program to train young professionals in Washington, D.C., where it’s headquartered, to keep low income residents in mind when they are designing programs and policies. Greenstein says he wants current and future policy makers to look through the lens of poverty when making decisions.

“We don’t want our research to sit on a shelf,” says Greenstein. “We want the policies improved and changed so they impact large groups of people from less fortunate backgrounds and give them a better chance at success.”

July Grants 2015

Assistance League of Greater San Diego
A general operations grant to the Assistance League of Greater San Diego, a non-profit that provides quality school uniform clothing to needy children in Kindergarten through sixth grade.

Catholic Charities
A general operating grant will support Catholic Charities work in San Diego County and their efforts to enroll low income residents in the CalFresh food supplement program and the health insurance program, Covered California.

Hannah’s House
Hannah’s House offers family therapy and a safe place for supervised visits for 200 plus San Diego families per week experiencing family conflict caused by domestic violence, child abuse, and substance abuse. A general operations grant will support this endeavor.

National Veteran’s Transition Services
A general operations grant will support National Veteran’s Transition Services which helps transition military veterans from active duty to civilian life.

New Children’s Museum of San Diego
A general operating grant will support the operation of the New Children’s Museum of San Diego. The “New” in the name emphasizes the museum’s approach to use contemporary art to stimulate imagination and creativity and help children make “new” discoveries.

Joan Kroc Center
A grant to the Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Community Center in San Diego will sponsor the attendance of City Heights youth at summer camp at the Kroc Center.

San Diego State University Research Foundation
A grant to the San Diego State University Research Foundation for their continued work on programming and evaluating English language acquisition skills for preschool students at Rosa Parks Elementary in City Heights.

A general operations grant will support Zero8hundred, a program focusing on transitioning military veterans serving post 9/11 into civilian life. San Diego is estimated to have the third highest number of military veteran residents in the nation and highest number of post 9/11 veterans.

Zoological Society of San Diego
A grant will support the renovation of the Otto Center at the San Diego Zoo, a facility used for group educational classes.

June 2015 Grants

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
A five-year matching grant to support the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research and policy institute in Washington, D.C. The Center’s focus is federal and state policies to reduce poverty and to provide safety net programs for middle and low income individuals and families.

A three year general operations grant will support and enhance investigative reporting in San Diego through iNewsource, a data-driven, nonprofit news organization.

KPBS is San Diego’s public broadcasting station. Located on the campus of San Diego State University, KPBS provides public interest programming via television, radio, and the internet. A general operations grant was approved to be paid over the next three years.

Voices for Children
Voices for Children operates the CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) program in San Diego. A grant will provide operational support for the Early Assignment Program which matches adult volunteer advocates with children placed in the foster care system. CASA’s act as the eyes and ears for juvenile court judges in the home and support the best interests of the child.

May 2015 Grants

Center for Community Solutions
A general operating grant will support Center for Community Solutions (CCS), a non-profit that helps victims of relationship and sexual violence. CCS operates San Diego’s only rape crisis center and provides emergency domestic violence shelters and legal counseling.

Community Clinics
General operating grants to San Diego Family Care, La Maestra Family Clinic, and Family Health Centers of San Diego will enhance medical care in City Heights. Each organization operates multiple non-profit community clinics in City Heights, including at selected public schools.

San Diego City College Foundation
A grant to San Diego City College, a two year community college, to support its scholarship fund.

San Diego Civic Youth Ballet
A general operations grant will support the San Diego Civic Youth Ballet’s classical ballet school in Balboa Park. The grant will specifically support the outreach program which brings ballet instruction to more than 500 children on public school campuses.

San Diego Justice Foundation
A grant will support the seventh annual Passport to Life Career and Education Expo, which brings more than 900 youth currently on probation to City College to learn and get motivated to attend college and start a career path. Up to 75 employers and recruiters attend the event.

San Diego Opera Association
A general operating grant was approved to support the San Diego Opera. Founded in 1950, the San Diego Opera has an extensive education and outreach program, bringing the arts to more than 100,000 schoolchildren annually in San Diego County and Northern Mexico.

San Diego Repertory Theatre
A grant will support the Project Discovery Education program at the San Diego Repertory Theatre.

Serving Seniors
A general operations grant will support the Serving Seniors program and a companion grant will go to the Potiker City Heights Residence emergency fund. Serving Seniors has provided housing, meals, and support services for seniors for more than 40 years.

Stand Down
More than 3,000 volunteers come together under the direction of Veterans Village of San Diego over a three day period to provide social services, housing placement, and healthcare to help homeless veterans get off the streets and make a better life for themselves. A grant will underwrite a portion of the costs to host the expected 800 plus military veterans attending Stand Down.

April 2015 Grants

Mobile Science Lab
A grant will support the SALK Institute’s Mobile Science Laboratory. The lab travels to more than a dozen schools and science fairs each year providing up to three days’ worth of science lessons. Targeted to middle school aged youth, the lessons range from studying genes and mutations by looking at fruit flies under microscopes to extracting DNA from wheat germs.

Summer reading program
A grant to support the summer reading program at the City Heights Weingart Library for the summer of 2015.

Karen Organization
A general operations grant will provide funding for the Karen Organization, a non-profit headquartered in City Heights specializing in providing social services and cultural preservation for Karen and other refugee minority groups from Burma.

Copley-Price Family YMCA
A grant to the Copley-Price Family YMCA in City Heights for their 2015 Annual Support Campaign. The Copley-Price Y opened in January and after four months has already exceeded four thousand memberships.

Tennis Courts
A grant to the Greater San Diego City Tennis Council to support their mission of restoring unusable tennis courts in San Diego and promoting community tennis programs.

Cinema Little Saigon
A grant to support “Cinema Little Saigon”, a commemoration of the fall of Saigon’s 40th anniversary. Three Vietnamese-produced films showcasing the success of Vietnamese refugees who relocated to Southern California during the late 1970’s will be shown in Hoover High School’s auditorium. Cinema Little Saigon is presented by the Pacific Arts Movement, a San Diego-based non-profit specializing in Asian Film promotion.

March 2015 Grants

Transportation Justice Training
A grant to the Environmental Health Coalition to improve transit and bike/walk infrastructure in City Heights. The Coalition will identify community residents interested in improving transportation, educate them on the issues, and support efforts to make policy changes.

Shelter Program
The Interfaith Shelter Network is a coalition of churches and social service agencies providing case management and emergency shelters to the homeless. Each participating church congregation provides two weeks of shelter and three meals a day to 12 homeless guests. A general operations grant will provide financial support for the program, which is carried out by 63 congregations in San Diego County.

Mental Health and Social Services in Mid-City
Social Advocates for Youth (SAY) San Diego provides comprehensive health and social services to San Diego youth and families. A general operations grant will support SAY San Diego’s wrap around services in the areas of mental health and social services in Mid-City.

Health and Human Services to Immigrants
A general operations grant will support Union of Pan Asian Communities’ (UPAC) work to provide health and human services to low income residents, primarily in neighborhoods with high immigrant populations.

Housing for Homeless
A grant will help the Connections Housing Program provide lodging for the homeless in the downtown San Diego area. Connections provides 223 housing units, a health center, and numerous social services in one location to help the homeless transition to self-sufficiency and permanent housing.

Mental Health Services to Refugees
A grant will support License to Freedom’s Shifa Program, which provides mental health services to refugees and immigrants from the Middle East and Iran living in the eastern portion of San Diego County. Services are provided in five languages.

Education Services for Homeless Youth
The Monarch School serves kids Kindergarten through 12th grade who’ve been affected by homelessness and therefore have unique educational needs. A general operating grant will support the school as it continues to transition to its new facility in downtown San Diego.

Therapy Scholarships for Separated Families
Kids Turn San Diego provides an array of workshops and counseling sessions for adults and youth going through family separation due to divorce and military deployments. A grant will provide scholarships for families unable to afford therapeutic services.

Emergency Needs for Burn Victims
A grant will provide funding for the emergency needs of burn victims at the Burn Institute, located in San Diego.

Urban Farming Training
A grant to the International Rescue Committee will be utilized for the USDA Beginning Farmers and Ranchers grant that will fund an expansion of the Growing New Roots program at the IRC.  Growing New Roots trains farmers on urban agriculture techniques, on how to monetize small-scale agriculture, and connects farmers with land available for urban agriculture use.

$6M aquarium gift to fund education

Birch Aquarium

By Deborah Sullivan Brennan
Reprinted with permission of U-T San Diego.

The Birch Aquarium in La Jolla plans to introduce marine science to more children who rarely have the chance to explore the ocean, thanks to a record-tying $6 million gift that will be announced today.

The donation from Price Philanthropies in City Heights will establish an endowment to fund aquarium presentations for up to 10,000 local students each year — and to bring a three-day beach science program to sixth-grade classes in low-income neighborhoods.

“We believe students can benefit from hands-on learning. And for children from inner cities whose families are poor, this gives them an opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise have,” said Robert Price, president of Price Philanthropies.

In turn, those youngsters might become the next generation of environmental stewards and scientists.

“Children who have experience with the beach and the fragility of the ocean are more conscious of environmental conservation and more involved in protecting the ocean,” Price said.

The new donation is the largest gift since 1986, when the Stephen and Mary Birch Foundation gave $6 million to pay for a 31,000-square-foot aquarium and ocean science center at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Both Scripps and the Birch Aquarium are part of UC San Diego.

The money from Price Philanthropies covers the lion’s share of an $8.3 million endowment designed to vastly expand the aquarium’s ability to offer presentations at local schools and create a more intensive marine science program for sixth-grade students. The aquarium already has $200,000 more in hand for the endowment, and it plans to raise the remaining $2.1 million from other supporters.

“It’s a gift from the Price family to UC San Diego and to Birch Aquarium, but in a way it’s also a gift to San Diego,” said Margaret Leinen, director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and vice chancellor for the UC San Diego marine sciences division.

Price said his family’s foundation has long invested in educational programs coordinated by institutions such as the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park and UC San Diego. The gift to the aquarium was a logical next step, he said.

“We feel that Birch is a very well-managed institution that can deliver an educational opportunity to children,” he said.

Price, chairman of PriceSmart, a chain of warehouse club stores in Central America and the Caribbean, also co-founded Price Club with his father, the late Sol Price. That business eventually merged with Costco.

Sol Price, who was a La Jolla resident, made multiple donations to UC San Diego — for recipients such as the Moores Cancer Center and undergraduates seeking scholarships. His contributions included a gift to help build Price Center West, a student activity and dining facility located in the heart of the university campus.

In addition, the Price family has long taken an interest in the City Heights neighborhood. It has helped to fund education programs and health and social services through its foundation, Robert Price said.

He and his wife, both native San Diegans, are U.S. Masters swimmers at UC San Diego and do open-ocean swimming off the region’s coast, so marine conservation is important to them.

“I think when you grow up in San Diego and you spend so much time in the water and know what the ocean means in our lives, it’s a natural thing to protect the ocean,” he said.

His family’s interests will be reflected in the Birch Aquarium endowment’s beach science program, which aims to let children not only gain knowledge about marine ecosystems but also put it into practice.

It will include two sessions of classroom instruction in which students will learn about the scientific method and formulate research questions, said Debbie Zmarzly, the aquarium’s interim director and its director of programming.

For the third session, the students will spend a full day at the beach to conduct field work such as testing water samples or analyzing plankton. At the end of that day, they’ll examine their data and present conclusions.

“This is a much more structured and in-depth experience that research shows has significantly increased learning outcomes for the students,” Zmarzly said.

The program will employ a postdoctoral student from Scripps to supervise instruction, as well as some graduate students to teach the sixth-grade participants about hands-on science. They in turn could pick up valuable skills in science education and communication, Leinen said.

“This is a wonderful way for students to early on start learning how to communicate about their research,” Leinen said. “So it’s very much a part of the training of modern science.”

Starting in the fall, the aquarium plans to offer the three-day program to 30 sixth-grade classes during the first academic year. Then it intends to expand to 60 classes each subsequent year.

Between the beach science curriculum and the traditional classroom presentations, the endowment will bring lessons about the ocean to thousands of children in schools that can’t afford them now, Zmarzly said.

“We’re all about providing ocean science education,” she said. “But access has been limited to those who can afford the modest program fee. (This new donation) is going to increase access dramatically, and that’s why it’s really transformational.”

New Y exceeding expectations

Dignitaries cut the ribbon to commemorate the opening of the new Copley-Price Family YMCA in City Heights.
Dignitaries cut the ribbon to commemorate the opening of the new Copley-Price Family YMCA in City Heights.

Rising from property formerly occupied by Pearson Ford at Fairmount and El Cajon, the new Copley-Price Family YMCA is quickly becoming a crown jewel for the Mid-City area of San Diego.

When Price Charities purchased the five acre site in 2008 (including the undeveloped 1.5 acre lot across the street), the site was envisioned as a community asset for the three intersecting neighborhoods: Talmadge, Kensington, and City Heights.

After considering many options, Robert Price and the Price Charities Board of Directors decided on donating the land to build a new YMCA to replace the 59 year old Y on Landis Street, a few blocks away.

At the ribbon cutting event in January, speaker after speaker commented that the new Y has exceeded everyone’s imagination.

“Nothing in my life has ever worked as perfectly as this project,” Price said as he addressed the several hundred guests who filled the freshly minted basketball gymnasium adding that “this will be a game changer.”

“This is a flagship,” San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. “People from all walks of life will come to this Y.”

In what brings to memory a line from the movie Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come” has never been truer than the Copley-Price Family YMCA.

The old Y had a membership base of about 1,000. The new Y already has more than 3,100 memberships as of Valentine’s Day, exceeding the goal for the entire year by 500.

The enthusiasm to join the Copley-Price Family YMCA resulted from a combination of factors including offering more scholarships to families, an outreach campaign to sign people up in surrounding neighborhoods, and as Robert said, “Sol said the best advertisement is word of mouth. The word got out on this.” About 40% of the members are now coming from north of El Cajon Boulevard.

As envisioned, the property is bringing together communities that in the past have not mingled.

“We’re kind of the cultural center of the community right now,” Loni Lewis of the YMCA of San Diego County told Channel 8 at the ribbon cutting. “People have come from all three communities in the area and we’ve got something for everybody and so it’s just a wonderful place for everybody to come.”

The 53,000-square-foot facility features an indoor and outdoor pool, a basketball gym, group exercise rooms, free-weights, exercise machines, child-care centers, community meeting space, and a demonstration kitchen.

Aaron Price Fellows Program offers a life changing experience

14930367153_e97568f7a4_oThe Aaron Price Fellows Program prepares highly motivated and diverse San Diego public high school students to be responsible, engaged and caring members of their community. The experience has been life-changing for many.

Pamela Rasmussen Gutierrez, a 2004 graduate of the program, said joining the program was the beginning of a turning point in her life. Coming from a low-income family in City Heights, Gutierrez said the program “showed me there is a different type of lifestyle. I learned I could achieve more.”

Gutierrez was an average student before the program, but that soon changed. She went on to earn a master’s degree in non-profit management from the University of San Diego.

“The program showed me what I had to do to get there,” Gutierrez said.

Current Hoover High senior Jonathen Vazquez said the program has “made me come out of my comfort zone and helped me find leadership opportunities.”

Participants are selected from Lincoln, Hoover, Pt. Loma, and University City high schools.

Selected students from the four schools are brought together as “Fellows” approximately once a month for educational experiences such as visiting government institutions, museums, businesses, and other enrichment activities. The program spans the end of the freshman year through high school graduation. The program is free and Fellows are eligible to receive a yearly $500 stipend based on attendance and participation.

Since its founding in 1991 by the late Sol Price (founder of FedMart and Price Club), more than 1,000 Fellows, like Bell Middle School Principal Precious Jackson Hubbard, have taken part in the unique program.

“It gave me the opportunity to experience a world outside the box I was in,” said Hubbard, who graduated from Lincoln in 2000.

Hubbard recalls going with her cohort of about 40 Fellows to visit the nation’s capital in Washington, D.C. her senior year and stopping by Howard University during some free time.

“When I stepped on campus I instantly became connected and said I want to come here,” Hubbard said of the campus more than 3,000 miles from her home.

It was at Howard that Hubbard decided to enter the field of education, but it was during her time as an Aaron Price Fellow that she developed, “tolerance of other people…giving back to the community…helping others…(and the) love and beauty of diversity,” skills she uses as a principal.

It was also the Fellows Program that helped Hubbard develop pride in where she came from.

One of the program’s goals is to help Fellows embrace the world’s diversity, including racial, economic, cultural, and religious differences. This can mean accepting one’s self as much as others. Hubbard said at first she was “embarrassed” to let kids from La Jolla know she was from Southeast San Diego. However, after attending a few programs, she said she realized she could be proud of the community she was from and still have aspirations to improve her life in the future.

Gary Rollins Sr., principal of Knox Elementary, said one of the biggest benefits the program had for his son, Gary Rollins Jr., was that it allowed his son to surround himself with others “interested in moving up and forward. He enjoyed being around positive, like-minded people.”

Rollins Sr. said the program reinforced what he was teaching at home and “gave him (Rollins Jr.) a foundation he might not have been exposed to otherwise.”

Since graduating from the program in 1999, Rollins Jr. has continued his friendships made in the program, fostered through the Aaron Price Fellows Alumni Association with more than 700 strong.

“I’ve had many of the kids in my house,” said Rollins Sr.

Hubbard summed up her experience in the program by saying, “It’s not about where you come from. There are opportunities for you to do better and more. This is one of those opportunities.”

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February 2015 Grants

A Reason to Survive (ARTS)
A general operating grant was approved for the A Reason to Survive (ARTS) program. ARTS is a non-profit that uses art and creativity to transform the lives of kids facing adversity.

Do Good Jamaica
Price Philanthropies is providing in-kind support of merchandise, specifically school supplies and educational materials, to the Do Good Jamaica non-profit and its “Crayons Count” program. The program provides materials to the country’s approximately 130,000 preschool students in 2,500 early childhood centers.

Guardian Scholars Program
A grant will support San Diego State University (SDSU) students enrolled in the Guardian Scholars Program during the 2014/2015 academic year. The program provides scholarships and academic and social support to students transitioning out of the foster care system while attending SDSU.

International Medical Alliance of Tennessee
An in-kind donation will support the IMA of Tennessee to provide medical care to residents living along the borders of the Dominican Republic and Haiti where medical care is virtually non-existent.

Jewish Family Services
A grant will support the capital campaign to purchase new equipment for the new Client Choice Food Pantry. Unlike the existing Hand Up Youth Food Pantry which makes available one size fits all food baskets, the new Client Choice Food Pantry will allow clients to personally select food and hygiene products that are most appropriate for their cultural and dietary needs.

North County Community Services
A general operating grant will support the North County Food Bank’s mission to provide food to low income families suffering from food insecurity. The food bank serves more than 250,000 individuals in the north county of San Diego.

Youth Tennis San Diego
A general operations grant to Youth Tennis San Diego whose purpose is to promote the educational, physical, and social development of youth through organized tennis. The program serves 140 students at seven City Heights schools.


December 2014 Grants

Alliance San Diego
A general operations grant to support immigrant rights programs. Alliance San Diego is a non-profit committed to strengthening the rights and treatment of immigrants. To support this cause, Alliance has formed a coalition of 25 immigrant rights groups in San Diego.

City Heights Educational Collaborative
A grant to purchase a new van to transport students. The City Heights Educational Collaborative is a partnership between Price Philanthropies, San Diego Unified School District, San Diego State University, and San Diego Education Association to improve educational outcomes at Rosa Parks Elementary, Monroe Clark Middle, and Hoover High.

Community Law Project
A grant to California Western School of Law to support the Community Law Project. The Community Law Project provides free legal information in a variety of areas to low income residents. In City Heights, the Project offers free weekly clinics at Hoover High and Rosa Parks Elementary.

Outdoor Outreach
A two year grant to support Outdoor Outreach’s efforts to increase capacity and grow its revenues. Outdoor Outreach is a San Diego based nonprofit that brings outdoor recreational experiences to underserved youth while providing youth with enriching activities and positive relationships with adult role models.

San Diego Junior Theatre
A general operations grant to support the San Diego Junior Theater. It is the oldest continuing children’s theatre program in the country, operating since 1948.

Whispering Winds
A general operations grant to the Whispering Winds Catholic Conference Center. The Conference Center hosts youth and adult groups for camps and retreats in the rural setting of Julian, California.

Women’s Resource Center
A grant to support the Alternatives to Abuse Shelter, managed by the Women’s Resource Center in Oceanside, California. The shelter is designed to provide immediate safety and security and stabilize families suffering from domestic violence while helping them secure more permanent housing.

November 2014 Grants

Boys and Girls Club of East County
A grant to the Boys and Girls Club of East County will support the construction of a new clubhouse in La Mesa. The facility will be located on the La Mesa Middle School campus. Construction is due to begin in 2016.

Brighton Center
A grant to Brighton Center, Inc., will support the Northern Kentucky Scholar House, a housing complex enabling heads-of-households to reach self-sufficiency by providing them a place to stay and academic support as they attend college full-time. The complex accommodates up to 48 families in Newport, Kentucky.

Foundation for Management Education in Central America
A grant to the Foundation for Management Education in Central America for the 50th anniversary INCAE Fund Campaign. The Foundation is a United States-based non-profit promoting the study of business management and related disciplines in Central America. This particular grant will provide scholarships for students attending INCAE, one of Latin America’s leading graduate schools of management.

La Jolla Playhouse
A grant to the La Jolla Playhouse for education and outreach programs. The La Jolla Playhouse is an award-winning, non-profit performance theater operating in La Jolla, California.

National Family Justice Center Alliance
A grant to the National Family Justice Center Alliance’s Camp HOPE California, a weekend camp for children ages 6-17 who have lost a loved one. The free camp provides a sanctuary for youth to grieve together with others going through the same experience. Camp Hope is located east of the Bay area in Northern California.

Turning Point Home of San Diego
A general operations grant to Turning Point Home of San Diego, a residential recovery and rehabilitation home for women recovering from alcoholism.

Wave Foundation
A grant to the Wave Foundation’s Friends of Finstitute education program, at the Newport Aquarium in Newport Kentucky. Friends of Finstitute provides underprivileged schoolchildren with free entrance to the Aquarium where they learn about penguins, sharks, reptiles, habitats, ecosystems, and careers.

PriceSmart Communities donation program having “a huge impact”

Kids staying at the Hogar Finca de los Niños, a farm for orphans, pose for a photo with the supplies they received from the PriceSmart warehouse located in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
Kids staying at the Hogar Finca de los Niños, a farm for orphans, pose for a photo with the supplies they received from the PriceSmart warehouse located in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Terminally ill cancer patients at the Vitas House in St. James, Trinidad and Tobago are resting a little easier thanks to an in-kind grant provided by the “PriceSmart Communities” donation program. The program has provided 824 in-kind grants since 2007 to non-profits operating in one of 33 communities served by PriceSmart warehouse clubs in Aruba, Barbados, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. PriceSmart warehouse managers recommend non-profits working in the areas of education, foster and elderly care, nutrition, and healthcare, to receive $1,000 worth of basic needs merchandise from PriceSmart warehouse shelves. The program is administered and funded by Price Philanthropies.

This year Vitas House is one of 161 non-profits receiving merchandise to support its work providing end of life care to cancer patients. Vitas House Medical Director and Chairman Dr. J. Sabga said the food and cleaning supplies it selected at PriceSmart in Port of Spain “have made a huge impact on both the staff and patients of Vitas House.”

Like the Vitas House, the Fundación Pro Jóvenes con Parálisis Cerebral is a small non-profit serving low-income clients and relies on donations to operate. The organization provides meals and educational and social support for people afflicted with cerebral palsy. The organization’s president, Mayra Urena Rojas, wrote Price Philanthropies to say, “From our heart we are grateful for your generous donation that has been a blessing to our forgotten community, but with your generous heart you showed us that there are still people and companies that still care.” Fundación Pro Jóvenes con Paralisis Cerebral operates in a small town outside of San José, Costa Rica.

Mitch Zychowski, a businessman from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, operates the Feed My Sheep non-profit organization in Los San Miguel, Costa Rica, a small village in the jungle. Zychowski says the PriceSmart Communities program has been critical in providing chicken, beef, and fish to the 500 Costa Rican youth he feeds five days a week, 52 weeks a year. In total, Feed My Sheep will provide more than 100,000 hot meals to kids this year at two small churches. Zychowski says that without the provided meals, the kids wouldn’t eat anything all day. It gives him “a purpose to be on this earth,” Zychowski says of his work to feed the hungry.

The Fundación Niños Limpiabotas La Merced in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, is a place for youth 7-17 years old to develop socially, artistically, athletically, and theatrically. The program recruits youth spotted on the streets shining shoes during school hours to go to school instead, providing after school tutoring and enrichment programs as an incentive. To replace the family’s lost shoe shining income, the foundation provides monthly care packages of clothing, food, and school materials provided through the PriceSmart Communities program.

In Valle de Ángeles, Honduras, more than 80 kids living on an orphanage farm eat pancakes, beans, rice, and spaghetti provided by PriceSmart in the nearby capital city, Tegucigalpa. In Guatemala, the executive director of Fundación FARES Para Niños Con Cáncer says kids might abandon their chemotherapy if not for the food, eating utensils, and cleaning supplies provided by PriceSmart Miraflores to the cancer treatment and recovery center.

Whether it’s senior citizens in Colombia or preschoolers in El Salvador, what recipients of the PriceSmart Communities donation program all have in common is a need for the basic necessities. The program began in 2007 at the direction of PriceSmart Founder and Chairman of the Board Robert Price to bolster the work of non-profits working in areas served by PriceSmart warehouses. Funding and administration comes from Price Philanthropies, founded by Sol Price and headquartered in San Diego, California.

An administrator from Fundación FARES Para Niños Con Cáncer picks up donated supplies at the PriceSmart in Miraflores, Guatemala.
An administrator from Fundación FARES Para Niños Con Cáncer picks up donated supplies at the PriceSmart in Miraflores, Guatemala.

Settlement brings families back together

Staff Attorney Gabriela Rivera (left) helps plaintiff Alejandro Serrato (right) finalize paperwork before crossing the US – Mexico border from Tijuana. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Rauber.
Staff Attorney Gabriela Rivera (left) helps plaintiff Alejandro Serrato (right) finalize paperwork before crossing the US – Mexico border from Tijuana. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Rauber.

A three year grant to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of San Diego and Imperial Counties from Price Philanthropies is having a profound impact on the lives of some of the most vulnerable families in our community.

For starters, nine deported Southern California undocumented immigrants with close family ties to U.S. citizens and no criminal history, are reuniting with their families and looking forward to hearings before immigration judges, something that should have occurred instead of being deported, according to ACLU Border Litigation Staff Attorney Mitra Ebadolahi, who was hired through a grant from Price Philanthropies targeting border issues.

The reason families were broken up in the first place was spelled out in a class action lawsuit filed by the ACLU in 2013. The lawsuit claimed U.S. Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had implemented policies and practices to deport detainees without due process. This included not allowing detainees to call family members or lawyers, not informing them of their rights to seek legal counsel, and misleading detainees into believing if they signed the “voluntary return” papers they would be able to easily and quickly fix their status and return to the United States.

Ebadolahi said in one case, agents picked up two 15 year olds at a trolley stop on their way to school and deported them the same day, while their parents remained in the United States. In another case, a mentally ill elderly woman was picked up by ICE one evening, wasn’t allowed to call her family, and deported immediately. Her family didn’t know why she disappeared until she called them from Mexico.

In August 2014, after ten months of negotiation and discovery, the federal government agreed to settle the lawsuit and implement significant reforms to the way immigration authorities in Southern California handle detainees. In summary, agents must absolutely refrain from pressuring or coercing any immigrant to accept a voluntary return, immigrants will be given detailed information on the consequences of agreeing to a voluntary return, immigrants will be granted permission to use a phone, and they will be provided access to legal counsel.

To restore some of the damage that has been done, the federal government has agreed to authorize select immigrants deported through voluntary return procedures from June 2009 to August 2014, to reunite with their families in the United States while waiting for a hearing with an immigration judge.

The settlement only applies to the geographic area of Southern California, but the ACLU is working with elected officials and organizations around the country to implement the policies nationwide.

Because of the narrow geographic scope of the settlement, some may see it as insignificant. However, ACLU of San Diego and Imperial County Executive Director Norma Chavez says it’s a big deal.

“This is about those fundamental values of who we are as a country and how we are going to treat people, especially vulnerable people,” Chavez said, noting that many of the people affected by the settlement come from mixed status families, where one parent and all the kids are citizens but one parent is not.

Chavez went on to explain that many of the clients the ACLU interviewed were brought to the United States as children and have lived here for decades, but haven’t had the money to pay an immigration attorney to seek legal status. If they had, many would have qualified to remain.

Ebadolahi said that even some U.S. citizens had been deported because they could not provide documentation at the time they were detained or had mental disabilities which prevented them from advocating for themselves.

“You should have a fair hearing, you should be able to present evidence, you should be able to assert your rights, and you should be protected from abuse and coercion. I would hope that most people could see the value in that,” Ebadolahi said of why ordinary people should appreciate the settlement.

To help City Heights residents understand their constitutional rights and hopefully avoid the heartbreak of making an uninformed decision, Price Philanthropies is helping to fund a six month “Know Your Rights Campaign.” The ACLU has been hosting Know Your Rights campaigns for years across the country, but felt it was important to focus on City Heights because of the high concentration of immigrants and a recently passed law which forbids police officers and sheriff’s deputies from detaining people for immigration reasons.

During the campaign, the ACLU is hosting public forums to help residents understand what their rights are and how they should act when interfacing with law enforcement and training 35 City Heights residents through six, three hour Know Your Rights Academy training sessions, a train the trainer model that will allow neighborhood leaders to conduct trainings on their own. By the end of the campaign, the ACLU expects to reach about 11,000 people, including through distribution of a “Deportation Preparedness” toolkit.

Victoria Armenta, Marta Mendoza, and Patricia Armenta (Left to Right). Plaintiff Marta Mendoza (center) is reunited with her daughters, Victoria (left) and Patricia Armenta (right). They drove down from Los Angeles and waited for her all day at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Rauber.
Victoria Armenta, Marta Mendoza, and Patricia Armenta (Left to Right). Plaintiff Marta Mendoza (center) is reunited with her daughters, Victoria (left) and Patricia Armenta (right). They drove down from Los Angeles and waited for her all day at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Rauber.
As a part of this landmark settlement, the plaintiffs in Lopez-Venegas v. Johnson were allowed to return to the United States to make their case in front of an immigration judge – an opportunity they were denied when the signed voluntary departure forms. They returned from Mexico in August 2014. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Rauber.
As a part of this landmark settlement, the plaintiffs in Lopez-Venegas v. Johnson were allowed to return to the United States to make their case in front of an immigration judge – an opportunity they were denied when the signed voluntary departure forms. They returned from Mexico in August 2014. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Rauber.

Grant provides hope for challenged youth

The new center expects to serve more than 500 youth in the first eight months.
The new center expects to serve more than 500 youth in the first eight months.

Price Philanthropies is funding the development and operations of a new outreach center in one of the most dangerous and challenging neighborhoods in the world. The Honduras neighborhood of “10 septiembre barrio of the Chamelecón” is located in the city of San Pedro Sula, the second most populous city in Honduras. San Pedro Sula had the highest murder rate in the world in 2013. An August 2nd report in the New York Times tells of the living conditions in Chamelecón. Gangs rule the streets. Families are afraid to leave the neighborhood, even for work or school. Roving gangs demand “war taxes” from residents. Poverty is everywhere.

Price Philanthropies involvement with the outreach center stems from a conversation Price Philanthropies President and CEO Robert Price and his wife Allison had with the United States Department of State on his annual trip to Washington, DC with the Aaron Price Fellows Program (a youth enrichment program for San Diego area high school students). Price discovered many of the unaccompanied minors showing up at U.S. borders looking for amnesty come from San Pedro Sula.

Whether because of mere coincidence or providence, Robert Price is cofounder and chairman of the board for the club warehouse chain Price Smart, and Price Smart has a club located in San Pedro Sula. Through these connections, Price Philanthropies was able to partner with the Honduras Youth Alliance and USAID to secure a donated building from the Vision Ministry to the Nations and open the “Por Mi Barrio” (For My Neighborhood) outreach center in Chamelecón.

Por Mi Barrio will provide a safe place for hundreds of youth to go after school offering tutoring, job skills training, conflict resolution, and volunteer and microenterprise opportunities. The center will also raise awareness and mobilize the community to take care of at-risk youth and reject gang violence.

The Price Philanthropies grant will support Por Mi Barrio operations through May 2015 with the goal that the San Pedro Sula businesses community, non-profits, and governments will provide permanent support. The director of the outreach center expects it will serve more than 500 youth in the first eight months.

The city of San Pedro Sula has been hit hard by a convergence of factors. An influx of Los Angeles street gang members were deported there in the 1990’s, returning to a city that was in the process of losing many of its manufacturing jobs and about to be hit by a devastating hurricane. Compounded by the global recession that still lingers, organized crime has become a driving force for many parents to send their children to the United States seeking a better life. The hope is that centers like Por Mi Barrio will help more children want to stay in their homeland.

United States Ambassador James Nealon attended the ribbon cutting ceremony on September 30 and praised those involved. Also attending were PriceSmart Senior VP of Operations for El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Chris Souhrada; PriceSmart Controller Susan Altamirano; PriceSmart Regional Marketing Manager, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Linda Espinoza; and Aprender y Crecer Coordinator for Tegucigalpa, Marjorie Mayr.

The United States ambassador to Honduras, James Nealon, participated in the ribbon cutting.
The United States ambassador to Honduras, James Nealon, participated in the ribbon cutting.