La Jolla Playhouse Announces Five New Digital Without Walls (Wow) Projects

Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation works with La Jolla Playhouse to film a dance piece at Arts Park @ Chollas Creek

La Jolla Playhouse is pleased to announce five more projects for its Digital Without Walls (WOW) series, including three world-premiere Playhouse commissions by local artists: Towards Belonging, a dance and spoken-word poetry film by Anjanette Maraya-Ramey of Maraya Performing Arts, produced in association with the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation’s Arts Park @ Chollas Creek; Light Leaping: Spittin’ Truth to Power for the People, a spoken word piece set to music by poet and Playhouse Leadership Council (PLC) member Alyce Smith-Cooper and musician/DJ Shammy Dee; and Listen With The Lights Off, a collection of haunting radio horror plays, produced by So Say We All (2017 WOW Festival’s Incoming: Sex, Drugs, and Copenhagen).

The Playhouse also announces two acclaimed productions by New York-based companies: A Thousand Ways, by 600 Highwaymen, a three-part piece that brings audiences back together in touching moments of connection over time; and Taxilandia, by Oye Group, that explores the gentrification process of local neighborhoods.

“The appetite for our Digital WOW work keeps growing, and we’re pleased to add five more extraordinary pieces to the roster. This new cohort of productions once again demonstrates how artists are harnessing new platforms while responding to current events with a deep passion, a hunger for connection, and a clarion call for social justice,” noted Christopher Ashley, the Rich Family Artistic Director of La Jolla Playhouse.

Towards Belonging is a powerful dance film with original spoken-word poetry and music. Choreographer Anjanette Maraya-Ramey and her company Maraya Performing Arts create a deeply moving piece that unapologetically acknowledges systemic racism, with an urgent call to act and create change. Filmed at the Arts Park @ Chollas Creek, home to Writerz Blok, this love letter to Southeastern San Diego shares the joys and challenges of the neighborhood through evocative narrative, graffiti art and movement, while shattering biases and celebrating the deep pride, culture and history of the region.

Light Leaping: Spittin’ Truth to Power for the People is an intergenerational piece using images, music and storytelling styles reminiscent of the griot. Between fire and brimstone preaching, the intimate vulnerability of prayer, and the invitation to fellowship, renowned poet and PLC member Alyce Smith-Cooper and acclaimed DJ and musician Shammy Dee are reaching to penetrate the hearts of the people. This three-part spoken verse will encompass the juxtaposition of past/present, yin/yang, male/female with the dream of transformations hoped for and imagined. It is both a personal moment and a collective piece – a springing forward into a leap of light.

Listen With The Lights Off is a series of frightening, October-appropriate radio plays created in collaboration with San Diego-based literary and performing arts nonprofit organization So Say We All. Intelligent, original and unsettling, this new take on the radio drama features stories from diverse writers who will have listeners on the edge of their seats. Twisted up in paranoia, magical realism, ghosts, monsters, sibling rivalry, and even earth death, Listen With The Lights Off takes patrons to wholly unexpected worlds – sometimes funny, sometimes disturbing, but always memorable, and eerily plausible. These fictional short plays, adapted from So Say We All’s literary horror anthologies Black Candies, will be brought to audio reality to make sure Halloween thrives, even during quarantine.

A Thousand Ways is a three-part work of theater from 600 Highwaymen that brings audiences back together in poetic and revelatory ways. In Act I, over a simple phone call, two strangers take an hour-long journey together, where they are transported to a shared fiction they create, guided by a set of automated directives, before returning to their own daily existences. In Act II, taking place several months later, two audience members encounter one another across a table in a socially-distanced format. With just a stack of cards and a few objects, what begins as a simple exercise of working together becomes an experience of profound connection with another person across a small distance. In Act III, when it is deemed safe, all the participants gather for the first time all together in one space for a collective, celebratory, communal event – with the knowledge that someone in that space is the person with whom they shared a very singular phone call and/or connected with across a table. This stirring reintroduction into a world where people bear witness to, and hold space for, one another both accentuates and transcends the collective isolation of our moment and asks how to rebuild our vocabulary for communing with strangers in all their complexity – something that had become endangered well before COVID-19.

Taxilandia, created and written by Oye Group’s Modesto Flako Jimenez, is a site-specific play-within-a-tour of a city. The piece immerses its audience in the flavors, sounds, sights and dynamic history of a neighborhood confronting social stigmas and the realities of gentrification. Weaving a dramatic, performative ‘tapestry’ that interconnects generations, social classes, races and cultures, Taxilandia complicates our notion of what it means to be a native, an immigrant or a resident of a place, challenging us to answer: “What is my personal roadmap of home?” piece Originally developed in Jimenez’s own neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn, the piece was inspired and drawn from his nine years driving a taxicab and his documentation of conversations with passengers, residents, natives, and immigrants to the neighborhood. The Oye Group now works with companies all over the country to develop local versions of the piece specific to each city. The piece is devised in three phases, beginning with a series of virtual salons with local artists whose work intersects with gentrification. Phase two involves a creative collaboration with one of the salons, where Jimenez works with the Playhouse and the local artist to identify a tour route, conduct interviews, write a script and photograph portraits of community members. Once public gathering is allowed, phase three will include live presentations and an interactive gallery.

Since its inception in 2011, Without Walls (WOW) has become one of San Diego’s most popular and acclaimed performance programs. This signature Playhouse initiative is designed to break the barriers of traditional theatre, offering immersive, site-inspired and digital works that venture beyond the physical confines of the Playhouse facilities. Over the last decade, the Playhouse has commissioned and presented a series of immersive and site based productions at locations throughout the San Diego community, including Susurrus (2011), The Car Plays: San Diego (2012), Sam Bendrix at the Bon Soir (2012), Accomplice: San Diego (2013), El Henry (2014), The Grift at the Lafayette Hotel (2015), The Bitter Game (2016), What Happens Next (2018), and four biennial WOW Festivals in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019.

La Jolla Playhouse is a place where artists and audiences come together to create what’s new and next in the American theatre, from Tony Award-winning productions to imaginative programs for young audiences, to interactive experiences outside our theatre walls. Founded in 1947 by Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire and Mel Ferrer, the Playhouse is currently led by Tony Award winner Christopher Ashley, the Rich Family Artistic Director of La Jolla Playhouse, and Managing Director Debby Buchholz. The Playhouse is internationally renowned for the development of new plays and musicals, including mounting 105 world premieres, commissioning 52 new works, and sending 33 productions to Broadway – including the hit musical Come From Away – garnering a total of 38 Tony Awards, as well as the 1993 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre.

To learn more about La Jolla Playhouse Digital Without Walls (WOW) Projects and its artists visit: lajollaplayhouse.org


October Diamond Snapshot: Rent & Childcare Assistance, Free Kids Activities and Much More!

Learn more about what’s happening in the Southeastern San Diego community with our monthly e-newsletter. Read October’s Diamond Snapshot to find a variety of FREE resources, including rent assistance, voting information and COVID-19 testing. Subscribe today and stay up to date on events in our community.

>> Click here to read the full e-newsletter & subscribe <<


Middle School Relocated to Southeastern San Diego Provides Free, Comprehensive Distance Learning

A KIPP school leader and teacher virtually check-in with a KIPPster. KIPP Adelante Preparatory Academy has prioritized connecting with 100% of its students in meaningful ways during KIPP’s distance learning program. Courtesy KIPP.

KIPP Adelante Preparatory Academy, a tuition-free, charter middle school and the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation announced today that the school has relocated to Southeastern San Diego, and San Diego families are encouraged to submit an interest form for their fifth through eighth grade students for next school year. KIPP Adelante is opening 2021-2022 enrollment applications on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020.

The neighborhood’s new college preparatory public school completed construction in June 2020. The school was formerly located in downtown San Diego since 2003 and has since moved to its newly constructed campus at 426 Euclid Avenue, adjacent to the Joe & Vi Jacobs Center.

“Our team at KIPP Adelante knows that there’s simply no substitute for in-person learning; however, we’ve embraced the opportunity to face a challenge with creative solutions anchored in our students and families,” said Rachelle Minix, KIPP Adelante school leader. “We’ve created a comprehensive distance learning program so that our team can meet our advocates’ socio-emotional and learning needs, their families’ priorities and pressing needs, and leverage the collective strength of the team to rise to this moment. A central belief in the power of advocacy guides all of our work. We want our students to have the awareness, tools and mindset to create and speak for themselves, even when we’re physically apart, particularly as they come of age in a time that desperately needs the voice and leadership of our young people.”

KIPP Adelante is prioritizing students’ access to technology and virtual communication with teachers. All students have a Google Chromebook and wireless hotspots have been provided to families without internet access. Every day, there is a live schedule for students to connect with their teachers, and physical education activities are offered three times per week.

The award-winning KIPP schools advocate for and empower their students, guiding them toward success with resources like connecting each student with their own high school placement and transition counselor, who provides support through the high school application and matriculation process. KIPP SoCal also offers extensive support to 5,100 alumni to and through college. This is historically significant since KIPP SoCal eighth grade alumni graduate college at a rate three times higher than the national average of students from under-resourced communities.

“We’re pleased to welcome KIPP Adelante to Southeastern San Diego,” said Reginald Jones, president and CEO of the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation. “KIPP SoCal’s diverse staff and school leaders, 78% of who are people of color, provide an enriching and supportive learning experience for students. The school’s strong curriculum and free tuition offer a great opportunity for our area’s middle schoolers and their families, and we encourage local parents to contact the school to learn more.”

KIPP Adelante is also a San Diego Unified School District meal distribution site, serving free meals to any child under the age of 18, regardless of if they are a student at the school. Meals are distributed at the school Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

KIPP Adelante is part of KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) SoCal Public Schools, a nonprofit organization that operates 20 tuition-free, open-enrollment charter public schools, educating more than 8,800 students across Southern California. For more information about KIPP Adelante or to submit an interest form, visit kippsocal.org/adelante or call 619-233-3242.

About KIPP SoCal
KIPP SoCal Public Schools educate within the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD), Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and Compton Unified School District (CUSD). KIPP SoCal’s whole child approach to learning not only focuses on rigorous academics, but also character development, enrichment, social-emotional learning, physical and mental health, sense of identity, and the nurturing of one’s purpose.

KIPP SoCal Public Schools are joyful, academically excellent charter public schools. They’re free and open to all children, grades TK-8. KIPP SoCal has a 16-year track record of success, including three National Blue Ribbon Schools, five California Distinguished Schools and 11 Top LA County Public Schools.

Learn more at www.kippsocal.org and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

About Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation
Founded in 1995, the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation is focused on building communities and lifting lives. As a creative catalyst and incubator, the Jacobs Center works with the community to revitalize Southeastern San Diego’s Diamond Neighborhoods. This means transforming nearly 60 acres into sustainable developments that provide residents with greater access to resources and amenities that improve their quality of life. Additionally, the Jacobs Center works with community organizations and partners to increase residents’ economic opportunities, leadership skills and educational success.

Learn more at www.jacobscenter.org and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.



The Complete Streets Project will upgrade portions of Euclid Avenue, Guymon Street and Market Street in the town center area. We are supporting the City of San Diego to encourage active modes of transportation in the community, such as walking and bicycling, as a way to connect the community to the surrounding neighborhoods. The improvements include new and expanded sidewalks, bicycle lanes, crosswalks, medians, street lights, traffic signal modifications, landscaping, and curb extensions to help with traffic. The project is primarily funded by a $4 million Caltrans Active Transportation Program grant awarded to the City in partnership with the Jacobs Center and Capital Improvement Program funding by the City of San Diego.

The Complete Streets infrastructure project construction has begun and is anticipated to be complete by December 2021.

The City of San Diego’s official letter sent to area residents and businesses in July 2020 can be viewed here. The Construction Start Notice doorhanger distributed in September 2020 can be viewed here. View the presentation shown at the Euclid & Market Complete Streets Infrastructure Project Information Sessions in 2016 here.

For the latest project updates, please contact the City of San Diego Public Works Department at 619-533-4207 or email engineering@sandiego.gov — and please reference the official name: “Market St – 47th to Euclid Complete St and Water & Sewer Replacement Project.”

You can also bookmark this blog post or follow Jacobs Center on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter for major project updates. Please note that contacting the Public Works Department directly will always provide the latest and most accurate information.


September Diamond Snapshot: FREE COVID Testing, Parenting Classes, Outdoor Dining and more!

Read September’s Diamond Snapshot e-newsletter to learn more about what’s happening in Southeastern San Diego. This month, learn more about a variety of FREE resources, including COVID-19 testing, parenting classes and 2020 Census information. Subscribe today and stay up to date on events in our community!

>> Click here to read the full e-newsletter & subscribe <<


Community Conversation on Thurs. Sept. 10: Why the Census is Important

Why is the 2020 Census important? Learn this and more by joining us HERE on Facebook Live on Thursday, September 10 at 5 p.m. and hear from the US Census Bureau, along with the Jacobs Center’s Christie Marcella and Black American Political Association of California, San Diego’s Dhalia Balmir about how participation in the Census affects the community and helps determine the community’s future.

>> Click here to learn more! <<


August Diamond Snapshot: FREE Testing, Meals & School Supplies

Learn more about what’s happening in the Southeastern San Diego community with our Diamond Snapshot monthly e-newsletter. This month, there’s a lot of FREE resources available to you, including COVID-19 testing, meals and job training workshops. Also, learn what’s going on around the Jacobs Center – like Access Youth Academy breaking ground! Are you subscribed?

>> Click here to read the full e-newsletter & subscribe <<


Survey: How COVID-19 Impacts You/ Cuestionario del Impacto de COVID-19

COVID-19 grantees

The Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation is supporting an effort by over 25 nonprofits in San Diego County to assess how COVID-19 is impacting individuals and families, especially those in low and moderate income communities.

The survey asks questions related to housing security, education, employment and healthcare and will help those organizations to understand how needs have changed and to seek resources to help the community respond and recover from the effects of this global pandemic. The survey only takes 10 minutes to complete.

Please fill out the survey by Friday, July 31, 2020 and choose Jacobs Center as the organization on the first question. Where it says “client/community member” in the survey, please answer as yourself. No identifying information is required to fill out the survey, and all individual answers will be kept private. Responses are optional, except for providing your zip code.

Click here to access the survey.

Your response is needed so that Southeastern San Diego is well represented!

La organización de Jacobs está apoyando una encuesta hecho por más de 25 organizaciones no lucrativas y socios del Condado de San Diego, para entender cómo los individuos y las familias han sido afectados por COVID-19, especialmente los que están de comunidades de bajo y medio ingreso.

Estas preguntas piden información sobre la seguridad del hogar, educación, el empleo, y de salud. Su respuesta ayudará a las agencias entender como las necesidades han cambiado y para buscar mas recursos para la comunidad. La encuesta nomas toma 10 minutos para completar.

Por favor, completa el cuestionario antes del viernes, 31 de julio, y enviarlo a cmarcella@jacobscenter.orgDonde dise “cliente/miembro de la comunidad” en la encuesta favor de poner “Yo” pero no su nombre, No tiene que dar su nombre para llenar la forma. Sus espuestas serna privadas. Tiene que poner su código postal nomas.

Completa el cuestionario.

Su respuesta es necesario para que los residentes del sureste de San Diego están bien representados en los resultos.


11 San Diego Businesses Compete in Virtual CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center’s Union Bank Startup Pitch Competition

Watch the Pitch Videos on the CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center YouTube chanel at bit.ly/CAJCYouTube. Judges will select winners for business grants. First place gets $7,500. Second place gets $5,000. Third place gets $2,500.

11 Startups. Five-minute pitches. Three grant prizes. One judging panel. And the audience (watching from their screens).

The cohort of local startup companies, ranging from cocktail kits to online nursing test prep to concussion-monitoring technology, will compete in the virtual CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center’s Union Bank Startup Pitch Competition for grant prizes of $7,500 for first place, $5,000 for second place and $2,500 for third place.

In addition to the Union Bank cash grants awarded by the judges (one of which is JCNI board member Paul Robinson), CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center cohort members will have a chance to compete for the “Audience Choice Award.”

These entrepreneurs have recorded five-minute pitch videos to convince a distinguished panel of judges why they should receive a business grant, explaining their business plan and what they’ve learned while in the CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center business accelerator program. The judge panel includes:

  • Oralia Alvarez, Director of Business Development,  Founders First Capital Partners, LLC
  • Fred Grier, Reporter, San Diego Business Journal
  • Gil Kennedy, Vice President, Branch Manager, Union Bank
  • Chida Rebecca, Entrepreneur & Publisher, Black & Magazine
  • Paul Robinson, Founder & CEO, Ensunet Technology Group and Board Member, Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation

From June 28 through July 8,  the public can participate by “liking” their favorite pitch video on CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center’s YouTube channel, bit.ly/CAJCYouTube. The winner will receive the distinction of “Audience Choice” awardee and a prize basket, including an iPad.

Since the program’s inception, 25 local startups from various industries including technology, education, food, retail, health and beauty, have completed the six-month program, which seamlessly transitioned to a virtual program starting in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This accelerator program is helping young entrepreneurs turn their dreams into reality by giving them the tools to build a successful business,” said Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer. “The diversity of ideas and participants supported by CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center’s program will help grow our local economy by allowing those businesses to get off to a fast start and put more San Diegans back to work.”

CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center is a strategic public-private partnership between the City of San Diego, Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation and CONNECT w/ San Diego Venture Group. The business accelerator program and Business Resource Center opened in May 2019 in a renovated 4,300-square-foot space at the Joe and Vi Jacobs Center in Southeastern San Diego.

All are invited to access free support through the Business Resource Center. Contact Selena Ellis-Vizcarra at sellisvizcarra@jacobscenter.org.

This program is funded in whole or part with Community Development Block Grant program funds provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to the City of San Diego, and private funding from partners, such as MUFG Union Bank N.A. and bkm OfficeWorks.


Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation Seeks Community Board Member


Applicants Must Live, Work in or Demonstrate Engagement with the Southeastern San Diego Community

The Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation has announced a call for applications for a community board member. Open to individuals who live, work or otherwise demonstrate engagement with the Southeastern San Diego community, this position is an opportunity to give back through advocacy, leading a committee or project, supporting community events and more. Applications are due July 31.

Community board members are part of the board of directors who serve side-by-side with Jacobs family members. Jacobs Center’s board members support and encourage the organization’s vision – to be part of a caring community where: people are responsible to each other, all cultures are embraced, sustaining resources are in place for a vibrant economy and residents create the future they envision.

“We are looking forward to welcoming another board member onto the Jacobs Center board. Having community board members has greatly enhanced our understanding of Southeastern San Diego neighborhoods and residents’ needs and goals,” said Valerie Jacobs Hapke, chairman of the Jacobs Center board. “We are seeking a volunteer who’s invested in this community and supports Jacobs Center’s mission to build communities and lift lives.”

The new board member will take the place of outgoing board member and current vice chair, Laila Aziz, who is the program director at Pillars of the Community. Aziz is a longtime community and policy advocate, who has worked to change legislation that disproportionally impacts youth and communities of color. Her contributions to the board and community include coordinating the Southeastern San Diego COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund, distributing emergency grants to local nonprofit organizations serving Diamond District residents.

Continuing community board members include:

  • Paul Robinson, a Southeastern San Diego native and information technology entrepreneur, whose focus is on education to careers and local economy initiatives that offer accessible pathways to success for the community.
  • Juan Carlos Hernandez, a 30-year veteran of the banking industry who gives back in many ways through local board service, including as MANA de San Diego’s treasurer.

To be considered, applicants must be involved or have been involved in a Jacobs Center project, activity, committee or have a recommendation from someone involved. Ideal candidates will have expertise in community engagement, real estate development, finance, law, fundraising, economic development and/or government relations.

About Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation
Founded in 1995, the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation is focused on building communities and lifting lives. As a creative catalyst and incubator, the Jacobs Center works with the community to revitalize Southeastern San Diego’s Diamond Neighborhoods. This means transforming nearly 60 acres into sustainable developments that provide residents with greater access to resources and amenities that improve their quality of life. Additionally, the Jacobs Center works with community organizations and partners to increase residents’ economic opportunities, leadership skills and educational success.

Learn more at www.jacobscenter.org and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.

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