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Public Defender’s truancy program highlighted by state association

PD logo finalMaking Attendance a Priority (MAP) is a collaborative, grant-funded program designed by the San Bernardino County Public Defender’s Office to reduce truancy in the City of San Bernardino.

MAP assigns a social services practitioner to visit families of truant students in their homes on a weekly basis to address issues leading to the child’s truancy. From 2008-13, MAP served more than 1,800 children. In a recent sampling of 43 students, 32 of them attended 70 percent more classes than before they were identified by the school district for the program.

MAP has also increased revenue to the San Bernardino City Unified School District at an average of $21,000 per year because of the increase in attendance.

In November, the California State Association of Counties chose Making Attendance a Priority for a 2013 CSAC Challenge Award, one of the most prestigious awards in the state.

The MAP program is just one example of how the County is using collective impact to solve complex problems as part of the Countywide Vision’s Cradle to Career goal.

Here is a video CSAC recently produced about the program: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOL-Y1-KM8M&feature=youtu.be

Transforming communities through collective impact discussed at City-County Conference

partners in progressCity, county and local government leaders convened in at the 14th Annual City-County Conference in Lake Arrowhead on March 24-25 to discuss unique ways to collaborate and bring innovative ideas to meet challenges in our communities.

The conference themed “Partners in Progress” began with a presentation on the benefits of collective impact in solving society’s complex problems.

Collective impact occurs when organizations from different sectors agree to solve a specific social problem using a common agenda, aligning their efforts, and using common measures of success, said Jennifer Splansky Juster, director of the Collective Impact Forum at FSG, a nonprofit consulting firm.

Juster highlighted the use of collective impact used in by officials in New York state who were struggling with recidivism of  their juvenile offenders. By tapping state resources in the areas such as mental health, housing, and corrections, the state reduced the number of juveniles in state custody by 45 percent.

This model has been used across the country to tackle some of the most serious social issues, including the education system in Cincinnati, malnutrition in low socioeconomic status communities, substance abuse in teens, and childhood obesity.  This model holds promise as a successful approach to the Cradle to Career goal of the Countywide Vision.

healthymuralSan Bernardino County Director of Public Health Trudy Raymundo led a lively discussion about healthy communities using artists who drew a mural showing what healthy communities look like based on a wish list received from conference attendees.

Their answers ranged from clean air, to a general plan that promotes diversity in housing amenities, to bike and walking paths and recreation centers.

Barbara Alejandre, assistant to the County Superintendent of Schools joined San Bernardino County Director of Preschool Services Diana Alexander to talk about education’s role in the economy of our region.

Education is an excellent investment in a region’s overall economic vitality, and improves social, environmental, and cultural factors as well. The Countywide Vision Cradle to Career Roadmap was developed to bring all sectors of our community together to support every child’s path to the workforce.

Already underway in the Colton Joint Unified School District are Community Cabinets of educators, parents, community members and business leaders working together to develop concrete goals -such as reading by third grade – to help children excel in school and build the skills necessary to sustain themselves into adulthood.

Board of Supervisors Chair Janice Rutherford and the County’s Chief Executive Officer Gregory C. Devereaux discussed County government’s roles and responsibilities and how those duties relate to a county’s incorporated cities.

devereauxcitycountyCounties have four basic functions: provide municipal services in unincorporated areas, provide the backbone infrastructure, provide health and human services and law enforcement and justice.

Cities and counties have major differences in function and they are not the same in structure and legal abilities, Devereaux said. However, cities and counties can find ways to collaborate and work with each other on major issues to reach common goals.

The conference was sponsored by the County of San Bernardino, San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) and the South Coast Air Quality Management District.


CJUSD Community Cabinet participants set concrete education goals

marchcommunitycabinetThe Colton Joint Unified School District Community Cabinet continues to work toward helping students succeed, both academically and socially.

This month, about 75 to 85 community members and district employees actively participated in the Colton Joint Unified School District Community Cabinet.  During the March 12 meeting, planning goals were accomplished in the following areas:

  • Literacy – with a special focus on planning for kindergarten to third grade
  • Early Preparation – encouraging parents to teach their children early before preschool
  • Mental and Physical Health Awareness – outreach events planned including a health benefit screening on July 12.
  • Academic and Career Readiness – discussion on establishing a career week or college week and resume readiness

The next Community Cabinet meeting is set to take place April 9 from 10 a.m. to noon at the CJUSD Board Room, 18829 Orange Street, in Bloomington. For more information or to RSVP, contact Francis Frost at frances_frost@cjusd.net

Business-friendly workshop showcases innovative efforts

DevereauxBIAvisionToday, cities, local governments and members of the Building Industry Association Baldy View Chapter discussed the development of business-friendly best practices to help sustain an environment of economic prosperity in our region.

This draft Business-Friendly Best Practices Inventory has been compiled as one way to help achieve the goal.  While “business friendly” may mean slightly different things to different people, one common understanding is that of fostering a welcome environment for businesses to be created, grow and thrive.  This report is a list of programs and practices that were submitted by cities and the County in response to a Best Practices Survey sent to each of SANBAG’s 25 member agencies in April 2013.  Also included are some best practices identified by other governmental organizations in reports from the US Conference of Mayors, the Washington State Governor’s Office of Regulatory Assistance, the Massachusetts Association of Regional Planning Agencies, the University of North Carolina School of Government, and the Southern California Association of Governments.

If you have a business-friendly idea, the Countywide Vision project is interested in hearing from you. Please send your comments and ideas by April 2, 2014 to visionproject@sbcounty.gov.



The REC Center, local parents and their grassroots effort

REC CenterJennifer Araiza is part of the change we wish to see in the world, a Supermom of the 21st century. If working full-time and taking care of four children wasn’t enough—two years ago Araiza and a group of local supporters started a nonprofit organization from the grassroots up, called The REC Center.

What started as a few local parents coming together to find quality after-school instructors for their own community quickly became a high demand recreational program in both Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

“Many families, including myself, were taking our kids to Riverside or Redlands for quality recreation and art programs. It was important for me to bring these programs closer to home,” said Araiza.

Close to home is right. After recognizing the impact of not having a Parks and Recs department in her community, Araiza saw the need in her hometown of Grand Terrace and made it the birthplace of The REC Center. But it didn’t stop there. Other communities and organizations learned about the program and worked with Araiza to bring the The REC Center to their area as well.

Now, after the Feb. 1 Grand Opening of the Bloomington site located at 18604 Jurupa Avenue, The REC Center has three sites (Grand Terrace, Highgrove, Bloomington) that offer recreational opportunities to local residents of all ages.

According to RECstar.org, The REC Center seeks to bring education-focused recreation programs to communities that may otherwise not have them.

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Transforming lives through the power of work

gwjessicaWhen you drive by a local Goodwill you might see racks of clothes, shoppers darting to-and-fro to find a hip outfit at a great price, or a neighbor making an in-kind donation. What you may not see are the Goodwill employees and the unique role they play in the community that’s worth far more than anything you can buy in a store.

Jessica Rodriguez is one of those special Goodwill employees that you just won’t see at the local retail store. She works behind the scenes as program manager at Goodwill’s San Bernardino Career Resource Center (located at 444 S. Waterman Ave.) and also manages multiple workforce and career development programs that are dedicated to helping individuals with disabilities and other vocational barriers prepare for and find stable employment.

With that much responsibility, you’d think work motivation would come at a premium; but if you ask Rodriguez, she’ll say it’s easy. All she has to do is step out of her office.

“If I look onto the work floor, looking at the participants doing their job, hearing their stories, looking at their successes, that’s why I continue to come every day to work. Why I motivate and inspire my staff to do the best that they can, it’s those successes,” said Rodriguez.

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From youth delinquency to advocacy

Terrance StoneA former gang member turned community leader, Terrance Stone has lived a story you’d expect to see in a movie. But instead of lending his story to Hollywood, he’s given his life to empowering the lives of thousands of young men and women in our community.

Stone is the CEO of Young Visionaries Youth Leadership Academy (YVYLA), a nonprofit he started in 2001 that’s dedicated to steering young people away from the kind of life that cost Terrance much of his own.

“I try to use myself as an example. I’m very transparent when I’m out and talking to kids. We just try to spark that inspiration in young people so that they know they can do it, they can be whatever they want to be,” said Stone in a 2010 interview.

In an area blighted by systemic challenges of poverty and chronic unemployment, YVYLA has helped take local youth off the streets and onto a track of success, serving over 10,000 young men and women to date.

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Community Cabinet meetings underway to help students achieve goals

coltonjointunifiedAn article in Inland Empire Community Newspapers highlights the Community Cabinet meetings being held by the Colton Joint Unified School District to help achieve the Cradle to Career goal set forth in the Countywide Vision.

During the meetings, parents, educators and members of the community come together to discuss initiatives in helping students move forward, not just academically, but mentally and physically. They also form ideas on helping students gain the kind of work and educational experience they need to attain jobs. Some of the topics discussed are early preparation, literacy, mental and physical health awareness and academic and career readiness.

The Community Cabinet meetings are open to the public who are interested in participating. Read about the Community Cabinet meetings here: http://iecn.com/school-district-works-to-build-purposeful-community/

County schools success highlighted at State of Education Address

drgarythomasCalifornia’s educational system is undergoing tremendous change as it transitions to new state standards, as well as new ways public schools receive funding and have to account to their communities. Those were highlights of San Bernardino County Superintendent Gary Thomas’ annual State of Education Address on Tuesday.

Thomas delivered his address at the California Theatre for the Performing Arts before a crowd of hundreds of educators, as well as elected officials and dignitaries.

“We are not strangers to change in education,” Thomas said. “For years, even decades, we’ve responded to educational trends, special legislation and the latest in school reform.”

Among the big changes in California are adoption of the new Common Core State Standards that will be implemented statewide for the 2014-15 academic year, as well as a new funding model from the state called the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).

Along with the funding model, schools and districts have to be more accountable for how they are spending their money through the adoption of Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAP).

“For the first time in California’s history, we have a funding model that provides supplemental funds for our most disenfranchised students, and it allows local control so districts can assure the needs of their student populations are met,” Thomas said.

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