Grantee Community Profiles

Mayfair, San Jose

Mayfair-Profile

Cesar Chavez, who founded the United Farm Workers Association, came of age in the East San Jose community of Mayfair when the area was known for orchards and canneries.  Today, Mayfair is a vibrant urban neighborhood of 10,000 residents that stands at a complex and uneasy intersection. Poverty is endemic to the community and educational attainment is low, with fewer than one in 10 adults having attended college. Yet, residents uphold strong traditions of mutual support, civic advocacy and cultural celebration. At the same time, as housing costs escalate and new infrastructure links San Jose’s neighborhoods to the city center as never before, East San Jose is again a community in transition.

Since 2012 and through 2018, Cowell has awarded 30 grants totaling $2.4 million in Mayfair. Our support has principally sustained two inter-connected enterprises:

  • The In Our Hands initiative of Somos Mayfair seeks to activate residents as leaders and align effort around the singular goal of ensuring that all neighborhood children arrive at school ready to learn and achieve basic literacy by the end of third grade. The initiative has trained and supported more than 200 resident promotores who have engaged more than 6,000 of their neighbors in programs focused on health, education and economic advancement.
  • The Si Se Puede collaborative links and aligns the efforts of four community-based agencies who work with families and youth to ensure access to basic needs such as food, housing and transportation, to foster cultural expression and exchange, and to engage residents in creating safety, opportunity and recognition.

Recent Grants Include:

Program Area

Organization

Project Description

Families & Communities

Somos Mayfair

To sustain the In Our Hands initiative.

Families & Communities

Center for Employment Opportunities

For workforce development and placement programs.

Families & Communities

Grail Family Services

To re-design and launch the Building Blocks of Parenting smartphone application.

Youth Development

School of Arts and Culture

To sustain arts education programs and fully implement a developmental curriculum for the Mariachi music program.

Youth Development

Reading Partners

To maintain a one-to-one literacy support program at two elementary schools.

McKinleyville

McKinleyville-Profile

McKinleyville is among the largest unincorporated towns in California, with a population of 15,000 and growing.  It has the highest concentration of children in Humboldt County, and over half of local students qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches. Located just south of the Redwood State and National Parks, the town supports small retail and resource-based enterprises and serves as a “bedroom community” to the twin cities of Eureka and Arcata, where major employers Humboldt State University and Humboldt County government are located.

Since 2013 and through 2018, Cowell has awarded 28 grants here totaling $2.3 million for initiatives that are helping leaders in this historically disjointed community respond to long-obscured needs, generate pathways to opportunity, and foster civic cohesion.

Recent Grants Include:

Program Area

Organization

Project Description

Families & Communities

McKinleyville Family Resource Center

To enhance existing programs, build capacity and prepare to open a comprehensive, integrated services center in partnership with the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services.

Education

Northern Humboldt Union High School District

To sustain and expand collaboration with McKinleyville Union School District on teacher leadership development, student engagement and school improvement.

Education

Save the Redwoods League

To collaborate with educators in Del Norte and Humboldt County schools to develop a forest science expeditionary curriculum for students in grades K-12.

Youth Development

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Redwoods

To expand membership and develop programs at the new McKinleyville Teen Center, built in partnership with the McKinleyville Community Services District.

Napa

McPherson-profile

As the largest city in a region world-famous for its wines, Napa exemplifies the beauty, abundance and disparity of California. Many adult residents hold multiple, low-paying jobs in viniculture, hospitality and related sectors.

From 2006 to 2015, Cowell made 30 place-based grants in the McPherson  neighborhood, near downtown Napa. At that time, close to 90% of the 650 students at McPherson Elementary School were eligible for free or reduced-priced lunches and more than 65% were classified as English Learners.

Grants helped to develop the Neighborhood Initiative, spearheaded by On the Move, a local nonprofit, in collaboration with school and school district leaders.  Together, the Neighborhood Initiative partners are committed to lift expectations and increase equity of opportunity for students in neighborhood schools, to improve quality of life for families, youth and children, and to open a diverse, inter-generational pipeline to civic engagement and organizational leadership.

Since 2015, the Neighborhood Initiative has expanded to students and families at five neighborhood schools where working-class, mainly Latino families are concentrated. It now encompasses three family resource centers, in-school and after-school youth leadership programs, and academic support programs that link and align the efforts of elementary, middle and high schools. The scope and focus of Cowell grants also has expanded; through 2018, our investment has comprised 52 grants totaling $5.4 million.

Recent Grants Include:

Program Area

Organization

Project Description

Families & Communities

On the Move

To sustain the Family Resource Centers on the McPherson and Phillips school campuses, and to establish an FRC on the campus of Shearer Elementary School.

Education

Napa Valley Unified School District

To align and enhance academic supports and eliminate opportunity gaps across elementary, middle and high schools.

Youth Development

Aim High

To launch and sustain a summer learning and enrichment program for middle school students.

Opportunity

Napa Valley Community Foundation

For relief and recovery efforts in response to wildfire events.

Southside Richmond

In late 2017, Cowell awarded a first set of place-based grants in Richmond, in Contra Costa County.  Of Richmond’s total population of about 110,000 roughly 30,000 reside in the area known locally as Southside, lying between the city’s downtown corridor and the 80/580 freeways. The neighborhood is served by seven public elementary schools and a middle school that feed into John F. Kennedy High School, and collectively the schools and their attendance areas are described as “the Kennedy family.”  In these schools more than 90% of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals and about 40% were classified as English Learners at some time during their schooling.

During the war years of the 1940s, thousands of workers migrated to Richmond to work in the Kaiser Shipyards. Richmond remains an industrial city owing to the presence of Chevron refineries and research facilities on its west shore, near the San Rafael Bridge. But the city’s downtown declined after 1976, a period of suburban-style development to its north and east. The older neighborhood of Southside became a pocket of entrenched poverty.

Nonetheless, the community is proud, enterprising and philanthropic, and the Kennedy family of schools is a focus of initiative within West Contra Costa Unified School District, among resident leaders, and for many deep-rooted community organizations. Through 2018, Cowell has made 10 grants totaling just over $1 million to support these efforts.

Recent Grants Include:

Program Area

Organization

Project Description

Education

West Contra Costa Unified School District

To improve mathematics education in the Kennedy family of schools.

Education

GO Public Schools

To increase family engagement and leadership for the Kennedy family of schools.

Youth Development

East Bay Center for the Performing Arts

To expand, enhance and integrate arts education in the Kennedy schools and the Southside neighborhood.

Youth Development

Mindful Life Project

To sustain, expand and enhance social-emotional learning programs in Southside schools.

Youth Development

RYSE Center

To build healing and supportive systems and schools for youth of color in the Southside neighborhood.

Youth Development

10,000 Degrees

To provide college-access assistance to students in Southside high schools.

Tahoe Truckee

truckee-profile

The Tahoe Truckee region runs north from Lake Tahoe, in Placer County, over a mountain pass to the town of Truckee in Nevada County, and is home to 30,000 year-round residents. The local economy is driven by seasonal tourism, so low-wage service jobs predominate. Vacation homes ring the lake, while nearby trailer parks and converted summer cottages are crowded with working families, of whom many are first and second-generation Mexican-Americans. At Truckee Elementary School, 55% of students are Latino, 40% are English Learners (ELs), and 55% qualify for the federal lunch subsidy.

Cowell’s engagement here began in 2000 with some of our earliest place-based grants in the unincorporated lakeside town of Kings Beach. Over seven years, Cowell made 30 grants in Kings Beach. Major results included start-up of the North Tahoe Family Resource Center, construction of a Boys and Girls Club adjacent to Kings Beach Elementary School, and production of affordable multi-family housing comprising 524 units.

In 2007, Cowell expanded our definition of the community in order to address the widening distribution of families living in poverty throughout the region. Since then, 69 grants totaling $5.8 million established an Endowment for Strengthening Families at the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation and helped to: sustain a Family Resource Center in Truckee; build the Community House FRC in Kings Beach; grow wellness and enrichment programs for middle and high school-aged youth; and enact systemic improvements in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District.

In 2018, our engagement in Tahoe Truckee entered its “sunset” period.

Recent Grants Include:

Program Area

Organization

Project Description

Families & Communities

Tahoe Safe Alliance

For technical assistance and capacity-building toward the consolidation of four local family-strengthening organizations.

Education

Tahoe Truckee Unified School District

A three-year capstone grant to organize a preK-to-12 system for literacy development.

Youth Development

Adventure Risk Challenge

To sustain and strengthen an expeditionary leadership and literacy development program.

Leadership Development

Sierra Nevada Children’s Museum (KidZone)

For management training to strengthen organizational capacity.

Opportunity

Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation

To support local research and innovation in affordable housing creation.