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Grant Workshop Aims at Reducing Child Poverty in Imperial Beach

May 07, 2017 02:29PM ● By Paul Spear

With the Highest Level of Child Poverty in San Diego County near 30% according to Ramon Hernandez, a Doctor of Pediatrics at UCSD and Leader of the Grant Workshop, Leaders from the Imperial Beach Community Came Together for a Grant Workshop Aimed at Reducing Child Poverty in Imperial Beach.

With Imperial Beach growing up so quickly and real estate booming the less fortunate haven't been able to capitalize on Imperial Beach's good fortune. However, last Thursday night in an effort to share IB's good fortune, community leaders came together at a grant workshop hosted by the Boys & Girls Club in hopes of receiving a $70,000 grant from the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that would help the less fortunate in Imperial Beach.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is the nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated solely to health.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funds a wide array of programs which are working to help build a national Culture of Health. Through a wide array of grant programs, they engage policymakers, business leaders, community groups and many other stakeholders with a common interest in making it easier for everyone to get and stay healthy. The Grant proposed is called a "Raising Places Grant”. It falls within the Place Making category and is associated with $60,000 to develop, redevelop or improve existing infrastructure in the community.  The RWJF works in a microcosm arena and for this grant it would focus on one small neighborhood of Imperial Beach, and easily develops into multiple projects and grants from other funding sources.  If chosen, the 10-month planning project will be based upon community and board member input and will then begin to be implemented.

Leading the Grant Workshop was Ramon Hernandez, an 18-year Imperial Beach resident and Doctor of Pediatrics at UCSD who has worked on many RWJF programs in the past because of his association with UCSD. Community Leaders in attendance from Imperial Beach were (in no particular order): Aaron Ruiz, Program Director of the Imperial Beach Boys & Girls Club, Karen Odermatt, President of the Imperial Beach Chamber of Commerce, Kimberly Paris of IB Beautiful and Board Member IB Chamber of Commerce, Linda Heath of Dig Imperial Beach, Harvest Crops & Food Bank, Lorie Bragg, Council member, City of Imperial Beach, Nancy Dayton of the IB Women’s Club, Josie Hamada of the IB Women’s Club, Valerie Acevez, President of the Imperial Beach / South Bay Kiwanis, Ed Vea, Management Analyst, City of Imperial Beach, Don Spicer, President of Imperial Beach Little League, Anne Porter of the IB Arts Bureau, Paul Spear, Publisher of Dig Imperial Beach and Board Member of the SBUSD Education Foundation and Mr. Ulisses Hernandez, Assistant Principal of Mar Vista Academy Jr High School, and Tom Langan, Program Development Director from the Imperial Beach Community Clinic. Many of these community leaders work with other groups as well as the group I associated them with.

During the workshop, the attendees had to identify underserved and depressed areas in Imperial Beach and choose one to focus on. The neighborhood of IB that was suggested was Oneonta, which has a high density of family groups and low-income level.  It has a great diversity within its population, Filipino, other Asian, Hispanic predominantly, with other ethnic groups also represented.  It also has a high gang, drug and crime rate making it even more isolated and underserved. It could have easily been Bayside or Central but the group could only focus on one.

During the workshop, the attendees were divided into two groups, Community and Children and had to identify the people, social environment and physical environment that played positive and negative roles within the community and after lengthy discussion and debate narrow it down to the three best and worst in each category. 

Friday May 5th, the application for the grant was submitted. In June communities in the running will get a site visit and in July 6 lucky communities out of a couple hundred that usually apply for the grant will be chosen as the lucky winners. When asked about the prospects of being chosen and being one of the six out of approximately 200 applicants Ramon Hernandez said, "I feel our changes are very good. Having worked with RWJF before, Imperial Beach has the type of underserved areas and an existing support infrastructure already in place that the RWJF looks for."

A group of 8 to 10 community members will continue to do any necessary work necessary with the grand procedure. The group will include: Ramon Hernandez, Aaron Ruiz, Ed Vea, Kim Paris, Linda Heath, Lorie Bragg, Tom Langan, Ulisses Hernandez, Valerie Acevez, also added to the group was Haley Acevez who is a Special Education Teacher at VIP Preschool. 

Said Valerie Acevez, "I am praying that Imperial Beach will receive the grant. It would be such a blessing for the community and it's children and famlies" 


Paul Spear, Publisher, Editor, Dig Imperial Beach



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