Diamond Snapshot – What’s Happening in YOUR Community!

Look ahead and plan your next family outing, arts and cultural performance, educational seminar and so much more! All of these events are happening right here in YOUR community and are hosted by Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation Community Partners. We look forward to seeing you at an event this month!


The Community Spot – February 3

1st Saturday is a monthly community market featuring local Black and Brown business owners as well as free workshops for youth and art installations for the community. Join us on February 3rd for live music, children’s activities, books by local authors, food from local businesses and all natural body/hygiene products from vendors in Southeastern San Diego.
Not only is this an opportunity to support local businesses of color, you will also be supporting the 4th District! Bring you kids, bring your family, bring your friends! For more information, email 1saturdaysd@gmail.com


DEEP Partnership Meeting – February 8

The Diamond Educational Excellence Partnership (DEEP), a collaborative focused on improving educational outcomes for children ages 0-8 who attend elementary schools in Southeastern San Diego, meets three times a year as a full partnership. February 8 is DEEP’s Winter Full Partnership Meeting at the Joe and Vi Jacobs Center in the Community Room. All organizations and community leaders interested in learning about or supporting this work are welcome to join this meeting. Learn more about DEEP at www.DEEPsd.org


Woman’s Worth – February 9

“Woman’s Worth: Reclaiming Our Divinity & Our Destiny” is a unique multigenerational women’s empowerment experience facilitated by Starla Lewis, Ishe and Yah Yah. Three women, three generations within the same family, offering three unique perspectives on what it means to be a woman!
Reserve your spot now!


Tribute to Whitney Houston – February 11

Enjoy a tribute concert to the great Whitney Houston through the very songs that defined her. Doors open at 6:30pm for cocktail and social hour Show starts promptly at 7:30pm
Purchase tickets here.

Public Art at Chollas Creek RFQ – Due February 16

Over a two-year period, JCNI will undertake an open competitive process to commission an artist to create and install a permanent, site-specific artwork for the 2.6 acre linear urban park that follows a newly restored section of Chollas Creek. This public art project is a collaboration with the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Find the application here.

F.A.N.C.Y. Monthly Leadership Academy – February 17

Our monthly workshops take place the 3rd Saturday of each month at O’Farrell High School from 8AM – 12:00PM. We welcome guest speakers from CONNECT2Careers discussing In Demand Career Fields, Girls Basketball Coach Latoya White discussing sports and scholarships, and FY Dawn from Dawn to Dawn Publishing to our monthly meeting to provide an interactive workshops on conquering life’s challenges, preparing for the world of work and college simultaneously. These workshops are perfect for teen girls exploring education and career options! Topics change monthly.
Light snacks are included.
*SPACE IS LIMITED* Reserve your spot here.

Health Care For All – February 24

Health Care for All – San Diego will be hosting a teach-in about single payer health care on Saturday, February 24th from 10 am to 2 pm at the Joe and Vi Jacobs Center. Approximate Schedule – drop in anytime, stay as long as you’d like!
10:00am – Welcome & Movie: Now is the Time!
10:50am – discussion, questions and answers in english
11:30am – Welcome & Movie: Now is the Time!
12:05pm – discusión, preguntas y respuestas en español
For more info, visit their facebook page.

SNAP – February 26-28

SNAP’s Neuter Scooter Bus is a full-service mobile clinic serving the Greater San Diego area. We have a dynamic team of accredited veterinarians specializing in spaying and neutering cats and dogs. SNAP will be in the Joe and Vi Jacobs Center parking lot from February 26-28. Space is limited! Click here to make an appointment.

ACCION – February 27

Click here for more info.

Looking Ahead

All About Worms Workshop – March 3

Learn more here.

F.A.N.C.Y. Teen Girls Awards – March 19

Get your tickets here.

Women and Families Resource Fair – March 24

For more info, visit their website.

Stay in the know and sign up to get our monthly newsletter and be the first to know about special events happening right here in Southeastern! 

As a friendly reminder, if you’d like to book any rooms or event space at the
Joe and Vi Jacobs Center, please contact Kitchens for Good at 619.450.4040
or visit their website.

Thank you!


Woman’s Worth: Reclaiming Our Divinity & Our Destiny

“Woman’s Worth: Reclaiming Our Divinity & Our Destiny” is a unique multigenerational women’s empowerment experience facilitated by Starla Lewis, Ishe and Yah Yah. Three women, three generations within the same family, offering three unique perspectives on what it means to be a woman!

The facilitators utilize poetry, storytelling, and music as an inspirational tool during the presentation, to bridge the gap between mothers and daughters, and inspire women to have more honest and authentic conversations with each other. By revealing their own personal stories and journeys as women, the facilitators provide “Jewels of Wisdom” and “Tangible Tools” that help women begin to heal, reveal and feel more empowered! The “Woman’s Worth” motto is, “The more we reveal the more we heal”.

Click here to get your ticket now!

Woman's Worth Flyer




Expansion to Support Community Involvement and Leadership

October 30, 2017- San Diego – For the first time in its over 20 year history, the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation (JCNI) Board will include non-family, community board members. Three trustees representing Southeastern San Diego were selected after an intensive selection process.

“The JCNI board expansion process will bring community voice at the highest level of the organization and ultimately a Board of Directors, ready and able to carry out the ongoing mission of JCNI beyond the family’s involvement,” explained Board Member Andrew Hapke.

“We are now at a crossroads for JCNI and the community. With the proposed Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation Town Center Master Plan in place and a series of real estate projects on the way, the vision of a revitalized community owned and managed by the community is crystalizing. We are excited that as we begin the shift towards a transition of governance from the family to the community, we have strong community leadership coming on board to develop and drive these efforts,” he added.

The new trustees are:
Laila Aziz, Director of Operations, Metro United Methodist Urban Ministry
Elizabeth Bustos, Director of Community Engagement, Be There San Diego
Michael Brunker, Executive Director of Jackie Robinson YMCA

JCNI’s board, with assistance from Community Democracy Workshop, developed a Board Expansion Ad-hoc Committee comprised of five key stakeholders from Southeastern San Diego communities. The goal of the committee was to design and implement a process to bring up to three new community board members onto the JCNI board at the annual meeting on December 15th, 2017. The Board Expansion Committee included: Ken Malbrough, Elizabeth Bustos, Narri Cooper, Norma Chapa, and Khalid Alexander. These committee members have been involved with JCNIs work over a number of years, a few of them for a decade or longer.

The committee sought board members with leadership, integrity, talent, a commitment to Southeastern San Diego, and a belief in the mission of JCNI.  Additionally, the committee established selection criteria for potential board members including community knowledge, relevant expertise and diversity.

Based on these criteria, 19 names were submitted for consideration by the committee. Candidates were invited for interviews and following committee deliberation, three new community members were selected to join the JCNI board. Seating of the new board members will be at the December 2017 board meeting.

“We believe strongly that these three candidates are passionate, committed, reflect the community and will represent it well. Their history of service and experience will be a great asset to the organization and the community as a whole. We are proud to welcome these well respected leaders to our team and look forward to working with them on our new board,” added Board Member Valerie Jacobs Hapke.

Meet the New Board Members

Laila Aziz
Laila Aziz is the Director of Operations at Metro United Methodists Urban Ministry. Laila has been with Metro for over 15 years, serving in various capacities and raising over 5 million dollars in grants. Born in Long Island, New York, Laila grew up in Southeastern San Diego, attending Valencia Park Elementary School, O’Farrell Charter (formerly known as the School of Performing Arts), Morse High School, and Serra High School. With a passion for violence intervention and prevention, Laila utilized her workforce, federal regulations, and youth offender expertise to advocate for policy changes on legislation that disproportionally impacts youth and communities of color. In addition to now serving on JCNI’s board, Laila is also a board member for Pillars of the Community, Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March, and Moms of Black Boys United.

Michael Brunker
Michael Brunker serves as the Executive Director of the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA. Michael was born as raised in Detroit, but moved to San Diego to pursue an assistant basketball coach position at San Diego State in 1980. Prior to joining the YMCA, Michael founded the San Diego Regional Police Athletic League, now known as STAR/PAL. Michael received his B.A in Political Science and Certificate in Secondary Education from the University of Detroit, as well as completed Harvard’s Strategic Perspectives in Non-Profit Management program. Michael has received numerous certificates, including Fundraising Management  and the YMCA Organizational Leader certificate. He serves his community in various capacities, including Board Member of San Diego Rotary Club 33 and President of Amateur Athletic Union of The United States. Michael’s ability to form strategic collaborations and attract others to support common goals is exemplified in his new and improved YMCA 50,000 square foot-facility. Well known as a role model in the community, Michael discovers areas of need and seeks to provide support and develop programs that address those needs.

Elizabeth Bustos
Elizabeth Bustos holds the position of Director of Community Engagement for Be There San Diego, a coalition of patients, communities, healthcare systems and others working together to prevent heart attacks and strokes in the Southeastern San Diego Community. Elizabeth received her B.A in Social Work from San Diego State University. Elizabeth also serves on the boards of Mental Health America San Diego, San Diego Small Bankers CDC, and is a member of MANA de San Diego, and Live Well San Diego Task Force. Elizabeth co-founded Southeastern San Diego Community Advisory Committee. Elizabeth has a deep commitment to advancing Health Equity as critical Civil Rights and Social Justice issues. This commitment is exemplified in all aspects of her professional and personal life. She develops and implements culturally and linguistically appropriate strategies to engage all segments of the community in decision-making for health promotion and disease prevention.

Community Democracy Workshop (CDW) is a national program of Philanthropy Northwest, located in Seattle, WA. The purpose of the Community Democracy Workshop is for people and their institutions to understand why and how the work of community building and problem solving must be led by community members themselves, and to understand how this hard work happens.

 About JCNI
The Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation was founded in 1995 by Dr. Joe and Vi Jacobs, founders of Jacobs Engineering Group in Pasadena, California. As creative catalyst and incubator, The Jacobs Center partners with residents, local leaders and organizations, and regional and national investors to revitalize 60 acres in Southeastern San Diego’s Diamond Neighborhoods and focus on developing a culturally-diverse area into a vibrant and economically sustainable destination. The Jacobs Center’s work is deeply rooted in community engagement and creative placemaking. The vision for the community was created in partnership with residents and local community organizations.


Media Contact: Toni Robin


Did you know…

ZIPCAR in Market Creek Plaza
There are two cars available for YOU to use in Market Creek Plaza! Check out their website for membership information, don’t forget to use promo code, SDJACOBS when you sign up.

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Peace in These Streets III
Celebrate Halloween with the whole family in a safe space at the Jacobs Center hosted by the San Diego Young Artists Music Academy!


TONY the Movie
Get your tickets to Tony – The Movie on October 17, hosted by LeSar Development Company, to learn about the problems and solutions of homelessness in San Diego. Stay after the screening to learn more from Tony (featured in the film), Dennis Stein (filmmaker), Kris Kuntz (LeSar Development), and others.


Philanthropic Networking
Opus Bank focuses on supporting the financial needs of nonprofit and small businesses. Join Opus Bank on Wednesday October 18, 2017 from 6-7:30 PM at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation to meet with their non-profit banking leaders and learn about compliance and how your organization can expand and retain its donor base. Contact Alberto Velazquez to sign up, avelazquez@opusbank.com

Alternative Housing Solutions Event
Sign up for the Alternative Housing Solutions Event presented by the Tiny Home Subcommittee and The American Institute of Architects, to learn about alternative solutions to solving San Diego’s Homelessness and Housing Affordability Crisis. The two-and-a-half day event from October 26-28 will feature an in-person, life-size and hands-on experience. See you there!

Pic - Alternative Housing Solutions(final)

YMCA New Facility in the Diamond
The brand new Jackie Robinson Family YMCA is opening in your neighborhood THIS MONTH! Check it out here to get all of the details on how you can become a member today!

Affordable Spay & Neuter
Do you need low-cost spay or neuter services for your dog or cat? The SNAP bus will be stationed at JCNI’s parking lot on October 19, 23, and 25. Call SNAP to schedule your appointment today!

SNAP single flyer

Youth Job Fair
A very big THANK YOU goes out to Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber for hosting the 2nd Annual Youth Job Fair with CONNECT2Careers at the Jacobs Center on September 21st, 2017. Over 100 job hungry attendees networked with businesses that had current open positions across San Diego. Congratulations to all of the participants who attended, you’re on your
way to a new career!

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As a friendly reminder, if you’d like to book any rooms or event space at the Jacobs Center, please contact Kitchens for Good at 619.450.4040 or visit their website. Thank you!

CONNECT ALL Innovation Showcase

Over 260 people showed up to CONNECT ALL’s Innovation Showcase on August 19th to check out the startups, chat about innovation and meet inspiring entrepreneurs. The mission of CONNECT ALL is to increase diversity among entrepreneurs, executives, and boards of directors. Findings from national research indicate that one approach to effectively accomplish this goal is to engage diversity at the company’s inception, at the founder level. CONNECT ALL believes startups that begin with diversity at their core will grow to become companies with fundamentally different mindsets and corporate cultures. Thank you to all who attended and to each company who shared their innovative visions for a better future!









Frank Rogozienski Photography/CONNECT


Business Accelerator to Open in Southeastern San Diego

JCNI, in partnership with CONNECT, has won a grant from the City of San Diego to build and operate an accelerator in Southeastern San Diego.

You can see the press release here: https://www.sandiego.gov/mayor/news/releases/first-business-accelerator-open-southeastern-san-diego.



The northwest corner of Guymon Street & Euclid Avenue will be transformed to become the new home of the sports-based youth enrichment program Access Youth Academy (Access).  Access will become the new owners of the 0.86 acre, 37,500SF property, which is a part of Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation’s (JCNI) Town Center Master Plan.  JCNI’s agreement with Access to bring their innovative squash and education center to Southeastern San Diego, fulfills the Town Center Master Plan’s vision of allocating select sites to create new educational opportunities in the community.

“One of the guiding principles in JCNI’s Town Center Master Plan is to bring high quality education and enrichment options to the community.  We are delighted that Access Youth Academy will locate their beautiful, state-of-the-art facility here, in one of the communities they serve.  It will be a real community asset, too, available to members of the community when not used for Access Youth’s academic enrichment and wellness programs,” says Richard Seges, VP of Real Estate, Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation.



Access uses the sport of squash and educational support programs to keep underserved middle and high school students (primarily from Southeastern San Diego and City Heights) in school, and assists their transition to college.  Access programs provide guidance to building essential life skills for our youth, enabling them to become more responsible and honorable adults.  Access’s mission is to invest in youth from some of San Diego’s underserved neighborhoods and provide them the skills, inspiration and confidence to reach their full potential.

Access’s new facility will include squash courts, locker rooms, three classrooms for academic studies and tutoring sessions, lab for college prep and admissions assistance, conference room for meetings and workshops, computer technology center, multi-purpose meeting rooms, staff offices, and parent lounge.  The squash courts will include seven singles squash courts and the ONLY doubles court in the San Diego area! Additionally, the Access facility will be available to members of the community, including evenings and weekends. Access’s vision is that this facility will serve as a true resource to community.


Aerial view from southeast corner

Entry from Euclid Ave

View from Euclid Ave (East)

“The new facility will greatly expand our capability to serve many more youth in partnership with several middle schools and high schools,” says Renato Paiva, Executive Director of Access Youth Academy.  Students have been shown to exhibit high academic achievements such as:

  • 100% high school graduation rate
  • Average GPA of 3.5 +
  • 100% college acceptance rate
  • Securing over $5 Million in earned scholarships
  • 13 National Urban Squash Titles Wins
  • Over 1000+ hours of community service

Access Youth Academy aims to create a culture of healthy lifestyle and exercise, encouraging students to find the discipline and dedication to unlock their potential and achieve their goals.  They ensure and advocate that family members are involved in the transformation process so they can witness the progress of their children as they mature into the next phase of their lives.

Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation is excited to welcome Access Youth Academy to the Diamond!

For more information about AYA and the amazing work they do, visit http://accessyouthacademy.org/


Jacobs Center Bids Farewell to Artist-in-Residence Gill Sotu

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The halls of the third floor of the Joe and Vi Jacobs Center have often been filled with faint music and inspirational words coming from the office of Gill Sotu, our artist-in-residence. It always brought a level of joy to our day-to-day operations here at the Jacobs Center, leading those of us who sat in nearby offices to stop by and see what he was working on. The music and poetry that he shared with us, and later with the community through one of his many projects, filled our space with creativity that reflects our vibrant neighborhood.

Our staff and the community have been inspired by Gill’s immense talent during his two-year tenure at the Jacobs Center, which comes to an end this week. Gill leaves behind countless memories and an indelible mark of artful imagination. Gill has been instrumental in advancing the Jacobs Center’s ability to bring arts to the community, activating spaces through innovative cultural programming.

Our first introduction to Gill’s talent was at our Town Hall series launch on February 26, 2015, where he performed an original piece on building community and encouraging engagement. The audience immediately responded with cheers. We saw then the power his words would have in inspiring residents to participate in the revitalization of their neighborhood.


Gill Sotu performing at the Town Hall series launch

Since then, Gill has led numerous exciting and fascinating projects. His play H.E.R.O.E.S. delved into a dystopian future where sacrificing your life could save your family from poverty, which drives one father to the extreme. It was a fascinating exploration into issues many people from disadvantaged communities face. As he told the San Diego Union-Tribune, “You can use the arts to inform the community about issues pertinent to them. Having someone like an artist-in-residence facilitate that direct connection to the people is invaluable.”

He brought that same level of insight into Ordinary Magic, an ambitious spoken word opera he wrote and directed. The play started as a concept he shared via a TEDx talk he gave last year, about finding beauty everywhere, even in the mundane. It evolved into a powerful play featuring original songs, a renowned opera singer, spoken word artists, a six-piece band, and seven actors telling an important story about finding your dreams and forgiving your past.


Gill Sotu performing in “Ordinary Magic”

It’s not only theater that Gill crafted during his time at the Jacobs Center. He produced, organized, hosted, and performed at two Poets & Painters Spoken Word, Music & Graffiti Arts Festivals – a unique annual event he created to build a space for urban artists to share their talents. Hundreds have attended the festival in its two years, bringing a fun and lively energy to Market Creek Amphitheater.

Along with these exciting and innovative projects, Gill lent his voice and original poetry to two Jacobs Centers videos, including our San Diego Press Club Award-winning video highlighting Writerz Blok’s collaboration with the Museum of Man. Gill also served as an MC and DJ at numerous events, and produced several of our PRISM events celebrating San Diego graffiti art, music, and culture.

During his time here, we’ve seen Gill grow artistically and in spirit. He has also grown in his family, becoming a father to a beautiful son. While we’ll miss his infectious smile and the inventiveness of his ideas, we’re positive Gill is going to do huge things in San Diego and beyond. His talent knows no bounds, and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed providing a platform for it here in the Diamond. Thank you, Gill, for all you’ve created and shared with us!



The Food Truck & Music Fest Comes to the Diamond Every Friday Evening this Month!



Get a taste of the sounds and flavors of the Diamond every Friday night as the Diamond Business Association (BID) bring this month-long series to the neighborhood. Each week the empty lot located at 5083 Guymon St. will be converted into a happening spot with live music, various food trucks, activities and more. Bring the whole family out for a delicious and entertaining dinner!


Poets & Painters Spoken Word, Music, and Graffiti Arts Festival (June 24) Lineup Announced!

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The Jacobs Center’s Poets and Painters Spoken Word, Music & Graffiti Art Festival is back for a 2nd year!

Happening at Market Creek Amphitheater and Festival Park on Saturday, June 24, from 12 noon – 5 pm, this FREE event will feature a long line-up of diverse performers! They include:

Jacobs Center artists-in-residence and award-winning spoken word artist/playwright Gill Sotu and internationally recognized Writerz Blok graffiti artists Jose Venegas and Sergio Gonzalez.

The festival also includes a spoken word poetry slam competition, graffiti arts competition, a family storytelling stage, graffiti artists creating live murals, and hands-on workshops.

DJ Redlite 12:00 – 12:30
The Lyrical Groove (Neo Soul/Hip-Hop band) 12:30 – 1:00
Ric Scales (Hip-Hop) 1:10 – 1:25
The Filharmonic (Acapella) 1:30 -1:50
Alesha Wise (Poetry) 2:00 – 2:20
Dairrick Khalil Hodges (R&B/Funk) 2:25 – 2:40
Gill Sotu (Spoken Word) 2:45 – 3:05
JerVae (Soul Vocalist) 3:10 – 3:25
Poetry Slam 3:30 – 5:00

*schedule subject to change

Live art by HASL & DYSE ONE throughout the day.


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