Students Show Why More Should Say YES to Southeastern San Diego

YES-seal_400wideLast month, students in Southeastern San Diego collected over 1,000 surveys filled with residents’ thoughts and ideas on the types of new developments they would like to see in their community. The students’ efforts were part of the Jacobs Center’s innovative YES program (Youth Engaging Southeastern San Diego), which teaches local high school-age youth essential skills that will enhance their chances for success later in life.

Despite the positive stories unfolding every day, like the YES program, Southeastern San Diego hasn’t managed to shake its bad reputation. “Low income,” “high crime,” “poor education,” and “low quality of life” are terms often associated with the area and media coverage is more likely to include a stabbing or shooting. This despite the fact that residents spend nearly a billion dollars outside of their district annually; the property crime rate in the area’s Diamond Neighborhoods is 14% lower than the average rate for San Diego County; and approximately 80 area high-school students who graduated from Lincoln High School, Gompers Preparatory Academy, and The Preuss School were named University of California, San Diego Chancellor’s Scholars at the end of the 2015 school year.


YES students prepare to go canvass door-to-door in Valencia Park neighborhood.

While finding a solution for Southeastern San Diego is complicated, reducing the negative perception of the community is a start. Through the YES program’s Master Plan survey initiative, students contributed to the revitalization of their community and learned valuable workforce and life skills in the process. For this first initiative, the Jacobs Center hired 20 high-achieving students in Southeastern San Diego, ages 16–18, to conduct surveys on its Town Center Master Plan. This community outreach effort combined youth employment with leadership development, community engagement, public speaking training, and team building. It also gave students a chance to learn about development options for their community and the importance of including resident voices in the process.

As part of the five-week Master Plan sruvey initiative, students were paid $10.50 an hour and allowed to set their own schedules, working as little or as much as they liked, as long as they didn’t go over 15 hours per week. Students who collected 25 and 50 completed surveys were eligible to earn bonus pay. If they worked the maximum number of hours each week and achieved both bonuses, students were able to earn little more than $1,000. Together, the YES students achieved their collective goal of obtaining 1,000 completed surveys by reaching out to family, friends, and neighbors. Once or twice a week the students also participated in supervised canvassing sessions where they went door-to-door and met with residents in different District 4 neighborhoods to gather their input.

YES students hear from former District 4 Councilmember and  RISE San Diego President & Co-founder Tony Young on what it takes to be a good leader.

YES students hear from former District 4 Councilmember and RISE San Diego President & Co-founder Tony Young on what it takes to be a good leader.

For many students, this was their first job. While the initiative was aimed at collecting community input, it is also provided students with soft skills training in interviewing, time management, goal setting, and effective communication with supervisors. Additionally, several students joined the program without bank accounts or an understanding of how to deposit or cash their paychecks. As a result, the program added a workshop on financial literacy, which more than half of the students attended.

Each week the students checked-in as a group with the program supervisors to discuss challenges they encountered, turn in their completed surveys, and submit their timecards. Opportunities for skills building were incorporated into these check-ins. Students heard from guest speakers on leadership, effective communication, community engagement, workforce readiness, and résumé building, as well as participated in interactive activities. The students met with the Jacobs Center’s Board of Directors and executive leadership, former District 4 Councilmember and current RISE San Diego President and Co-founder Tony Young, United African American Ministerial Action Council Executive Director Reverend Gerald Brown, LISC AmeriCorps San Diego Program Officer Jason Jarvinen, training specialists from San Diego Workforce Partnerships’ CONNECT2Careers program, and a business development representative from Wells Fargo.

YES students jump for joy after reaching their collective goal of obtaining 1,000 completed surveys!

YES students jump for joy after reaching their collective goal of obtaining 1,000 completed surveys!

During introductions with each guest speaker, the students shared why they wanted to join the YES program. The overwhelming response was always their desire to change the perception of their community. Instead of waiting for others to create positive change, these students actively contributed to transforming their community into a place where they want to stay, work, and one day raise their own families. For a community that has heard “no” for too long, these students are a shining example of the greater success Southeastern San Diego can achieve if more people started saying “yes.”

Beyond the Master Plan survey initiative, the Jacobs Center’s YES program plans to offer more opportunities for Southeastern San Diego’s students to engage with residents and serve as youth advocates for their community. Stay tuned for guest blogs by some of these inspiring students on their experience participating in the Master Plan survey initiative.




La Feria de Nayarit en California – Domingo 21 de Agosto



FREE EVENT: San Diego Opera’s Opera on Track – September 10






Faces Forward: Celebrating the community leaders, past and present, who have made the Diamond Neighborhoods a better place.

The Diamond Neighborhoods are filled with inspiring stories from the people who call this community home. It’s one of the many reasons why the ?#?DiamondShines?!

In 2002, the Community Faces murals in Market Creek Plaza featured residents of Southeastern San Diego’s Diamond Neighborhoods who had made a difference in their community. Among them was community leader and retired educator, Shirley Jackson who spent decades volunteering and engaging residents in voting and social justice issues. Fourteen years later, Aja Project worked with local high school students in the Jacobs Center’s Full STE[+a]M Ahead program to create new murals as part of a digital photography project that provided hands on STEAM learning. In February 2015, the students’ murals replaced the original Community Faces murals in Market Creek Plaza establishing them as the future leaders in their community. One of the students represented in the new murals is Nikayla Jackson, Shirley’s Great Granddaughter. This video celebrates this family and all of the community leaders who have contributed to making the Diamond Neighborhoods a better place.




FREE EVENT – Jacobs Presents: San Diego Asian Pacific Islander Culinary Fusion Festival – September 17






Cygnet Theatre Presents: August Wilson’s Seven Guitars and King Headley II

The Cygnet Theatre presents two August Wilson masterpieces in repertory this fall.
To purchase tickets visit www.CygnetTheatre.com or contact the box office by phone at (619) 337-1525 or in person at
4040 Twiggs St., San Diego, CA 92110. 

SevenGuitars-PosterSEVEN GUITARS (September 28 – November 6)
By August Wilson

Pittsburgh, 1948. Friends gather to mourn for a blues guitarist and singer who died just as his career was on the verge of taking off. The action that follows is a flashback to the busy week leading up to Floyd’s sudden and unnatural death. Seven Guitars is part bawdy comedy, part dark elegy and part mystery. This lyrical play is the fifth in August Wilson’s ten-play cycle which charts the African-American experience through each decade of the 20th century and is performed in repertory with King Hedley II.


KingHedleyII-PosterKING HEDLEY II (September 29 – November 9)
By August Wilson

Pittsburgh, 1985. King, recently released from prison, is attempting to rebuild his life amid changing times and a backdrop of the crime and drug struggles in the community where he exists. King dreams of a life of stability and self-reliance beyond incarceration, gangs and broken family. The play dares to ask what it takes to transcend the limitations of life and personal circumstance, and if pure will is enough to change a man’s destiny. King Hedley II is the ninth play in August Wilson’s ten-play cycle that, decade by decade, examines African American life in the United States during the twentieth century. Performed in repertory with Seven Guitars.


SOCIAL MEDIA NIGHT – OCT 7TH @ 8:00PM (King Hedley II)
Enjoy a unique theatre experience during the performance. Share your thoughts on the show as you tweet from your seat. Get behind the scenes information, live as it’s happening.

OUT NIGHT @ CYGNET – OCT 12TH @ 6:30PM (Seven Guitars)
Cygnet is proud to present an evening for our theatre loving friends in the LGBT community. Enjoy a pre-show mixer before the performance on Cygnet’s beautiful Elaine Lipinsky Patio. Everyone is welcome!

THEATRE ON TAP – OCT 14TH @ 7:00PM (Seven Guitars)
Join Cygnet for Theatre on Tap! Enjoy a pre-show beer tasting, and mix and mingle with other craft beer lovers. The complimentary tasting begins at 7 pm, followed by an 8:00 pm performance.

FRIDAY FORUM – OCT 14TH @ 8:00PM (Seven Guitars)
Friday Forum gives you an opportunity to chat with the cast and director following the performance on the first Friday after opening night.

FRIDAY FORUM – OCT 21ST @ 8:00PM (King Hedley II)
Friday Forum gives you an opportunity to chat with the cast and director following the performance on the first Friday after opening night.

WINE TASTING NIGHT – OCT 27TH @ 6:30PM (King Hedley II)
Join Cygnet for a pre-show Wine Tasting. The complimentary wine tasting begins at 6:30pm followed by a 7:30pm performance.



Chollas View Community Council Gompers Park Clean Up – September 17



FREE Summer Meals for Kids / Almuerzos de verano GRATIS para niños

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PRISM: A Celebration of Hip-Hop Culture – September 24


A Celebration of Hip-Hop Culture
Saturday, September 24
1-6 pm
Writerz Blok
5010 Market Street
San Diego, CA 92102

The Jacobs Center and its urban art program Writerz Blok invite you to its second FREE PRISM event. PRISM is a series of events that celebrate San Diego graffiti art, music, and culture. This upcoming all ages event will celebrate all things hip-hop with several engaging arts and culture competitions. 

Family Feud and Jeopardy meets the streets in this hip-hop community game show. Three teams of three use their collective hip-hop knowledge to battle for $300 in prize money. Each team will come up with a Hip-Hop inspired team name and will be given different colored shirt printed by Writerz Blok.

 Categories will include (but are not limited to):

• Name the Artist (song identification – both new and old school)
• Say What?  (Finish the lyric)
• Ants in My Pants (Perform a selected popular hip-hop dance)
• Hip-Hop History
• Looking Fly (trivia on Hip-Hop apparel)

Interested teams must email Gill Sotu at gsotu@jacobscenter.org with their team name and the names of their participants by September 12 to be entered into the competition. The teams chosen to compete will be selected at random and notified September 16. 

KING OF THE CYPHER (3:30 – 5 pm)
Aspiring emcee’s perform in a cypher and go through three rounds of challenges to win a $200 prize and be named
King of the Cypher.

Round 1 – Written Rhymes (emcee’s perform their best written verse to a beat selected by our DJ)

Round 2 – Free Style – Vocab (emcee’s must freestyle a verse using the four words chosen by the audience)

Round 3 – Free Style – Subject (emcee’s must freestyle on a topic that effects the community)

Interested emcee’s must sign up by 1:30 pm at the event to participate. 

• The competition is limited to 15 emcees. Emcee’s will compete in the order drawn.
• Each round is judged by five random audience members who will score each emcee in a round from 0-10.
The low and high scores given to each emcee will be taken out to create an average score.
• The top seven emcee’s will advance to the second and third rounds. The order will be based on the highest to lowest scores. For example, the emcee with the highest score in round one, will go first in round two.
• The highest combined score of the three rounds wins.
• No profanity, sexually explicit language, or hate speech is allowed.

Previously selected up and coming graph writers showcase their skills in this head-to-head competition for $100.
For more information contact Laura Sanchez at lsanchez@jacobscenter.org.


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