Mid-City CAN Awarded CA Nonprofit of the Year

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 SAN DIEGO, CA – Mid-City Community Advocacy Network also known as Mid-City CAN is proud to announce it has been selected as a 2019 California Nonprofit of the Year by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher.

Diana Rodriguez Ross, Executive Director for Mid-City CAN will travel to Sacramento to join one hundred other nonprofit leaders who will be honored by their state senators and assemblymembers during a celebration luncheon as part of California Nonprofits Day on June 5th.

“We are honored to be recognized by Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher as Nonprofit of the Year. This award is especially meaningful to Mid-City CAN this year as we are celebrating 30 years of working hand-in-hand with our community to create a thriving City Heights. This is really a recognition of the collective dedication and the love that youth, parents, teachers, and partners have for this community,” commented Diana Rodriguez Ross

“Nonprofits are often hidden in plain sight,” explains Jan Masaoka, CEO of the California Association of Nonprofits (CalNonprofits). “California Nonprofits Day is an opportunity for our elected officials to celebrate the good work they see nonprofits doing in their districts, and for everyone to appreciate the collective impact of nonprofits in our communities.”

Additional Background

California Nonprofits Day, now in its fourth year, was formally recognized by Assembly Concurrent Resolution 62, authored by the chair of the Assembly Select Committee on the Nonprofit Sector, Assemblywoman Monique Limón (Santa Barbara), who will speak at the celebration luncheon. Senator Holly Mitchell will keynote the luncheon. The day is organized by Assemblymember Limón and CalNonprofits.

According to “Causes Count,” a 2016 report commissioned by CalNonprofits, the nonprofit sector is the 4th largest industry in the state, employing nearly one million people. Each year, California nonprofits generate over $200 billion in revenue and bring in $40 billion in revenue from outside of California. The unpaid labor contributed by volunteers at nonprofits is equivalent to 450,000 full-time jobs every year.


30 Years Told in 30 Stories: Anastasia Brewster

30 Years Told in 30 Stories: Mark Tran

30 Years Told in 30 Stories: Robert Price

30 Years Told in 30 Stories: Leslie Renteria Salome

(Excerpt from 2014 Voice of San Diego article)

"The most powerful example of this kind of work, Ross said, is a youth-led campaign to bring a skate park to City Heights. After years of lobbying elected officials, the youth have the funds they need and are in the design phase.

On a recent evening, they met with park and recreation staff to dream up the perfect park, cutting out renderings of rails and ramps and assembling them on a map of the park like dresses on a paper doll. Their work was interrupted by adults who own homes near the proposed park site and aren’t sold on the plan.

The room grew tense as the homeowners shouted things like, “Skate parks belong in industrial areas!” and “You don’t come into somebody else’s space without asking first.” The room calmed as a soft, but confident voice in the back of the room offered to show them a report that might allay their fears – an impact assessment suggesting the park is likely to decrease crime in the area. The voice belonged to 17-year-old Leslie Renteria.

“Before joining the (campaign) I was pretty shy. I never thought that I was able to speak up in front of people, and more, to speak up to defend what I believe in and the work that we’ve done. I just didn’t think I was important in the community,” Renteria said.

Through her involvement with the skate park campaign, Renteria said she realized she wants to become an urban planner so she can continue the work she and her peers have started in City Heights."


Leslie’s leadership in Mid-City CAN's Youth Council is a reminder of how the action of one can POSITIVELY impact the future of many.

Help Mid-City CAN continue to develop leaders and build a happier, healthier future in City Heights and beyond by making a donation today.

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Rising to New Heights: Celebrating 30 years of Neighorhood Action, Regional Impact

Join us for a historical evening bringing San Diego’s most respected civic visionaries, community leaders, organization partners, and members of the community together to celebrate three decades of struggle and strength. Throughout the evening, we will honor legislative, advocacy, and community organizing champions for their commitment to building people power and advancing equity for our community and communities beyond City Heights. 

November 14, 2019 | 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. | Jacobs Center | $90 Per Person


Building Statewide Momentum for Juvenile Justice Reform

Every young person deserves access to adequate support and opportunities to reach their full potential.

Unfortunately, our current juvenile justice system is like an exceptionally difficult maze, with too many paths in and too few ways out. Too many children and youth in City Heights and in working communities of color across our state are unjustly stripped from their potential and funneled into the criminal justice maze.

Instead of funneling youth into the school to prison pipeline, we should be leading them to the opportunities that will help them develop into happy, healthy, contributing members of their community. While our roots are in City Heights, redesigning the juvenile justice system will have an impact beyond our region and state. So, we are building statewide momentum to ensure all youth, regardless of their zip code, can reach their dreams.

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How we rocked 2018!

2018 was a big year for Mid-City CAN, click "READ MORE" below to check out our year in review infographic!

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2018 Resident Leadership Academy graduates

On Monday, September 17, the fourth Mid-City CAN Resident Leadership Academy graduation was held in celebration with community and special guest, Councilmember Georgette Gomez who gave the keynote address. Graduates shared about their experiences and leadership goals. Zairaa high school leader from Crawford HSshared a moving and powerful poem about her family’s experience living as refugees in the United States.

Mid-City CAN’s eight-week training focused on learning City Heights' history, community organizing principles, relationship-building, power-mapping, storytelling, and goal-setting. Mid-City CAN provides the training and network to residents who are the experts of their neighborhoods. Our RLA training provides a deep investment in promising and emerging leaders from our community. In turn, the graduates invest their time and long-time commitment to serving their community and being part of the powerful change they want to see in their neighborhoods. Congratulations to our graduates!


Consuelo Martinez
Leadership Development Specialist

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Youth Wanted for Youth Council


From fun outings to Belmont Park, the beach, and a Padres game, to exciting leadership camps and a Youth Power Summit in our state capitol, Mid-City CAN's Youth Council had a busy summer. Now that school's back in session, we are looking for more youth to join the team working on some amazing projects, including a Schools Not Prisons mural in City Heights.

Hear from two youth currently in Youth Council who participated in the team's activities this summer and look forward to upcoming projects.

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Resident Spotlight: Rosa Calvario on Community Representation

Communities prosper when decisions are made by leaders who share life experiences with the people they serve.

While people of color and women make up most of San Diego’s population, they do not make up the majority of San Diego’s decision makers on boards and commissions. When San Diego’s decision makers don’t experience the same challenges as most San Diegans, they can’t make the best decisions about how to meet our community’s needs

Although San Diego is a democracy, our systems for choosing decision-makers favor the people and networks that have historically held power and prevent the majority of San Diegans from getting a seat at the table.

For San Diego to prosper, we need leaders who can make decisions based on life experiences they have in common with most San Diegans.

Join us at the September 26 at the Townhall on Community Representation, by San Diego Leaders, to learn how to help more people have a seat at the table—maybe even you!

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Building Power Block by Block in City Heights—Neighborhood Captains

Mid-City CAN's Civic Engagement team builds power block by block in City Heights by turning out voters to the polls and connecting our community to the campaigns that matter to them. With this increase in power, we expect to see better and quicker results for a safer, more productive, and healthier City Heights.

Neighborhood Captains are at the core of our Integrated Voter Engagement model to prioritize the families and low-frequency voters that are ignored by traditional political campaigns. They lead the conversations and build the relationships that will increase voter participation and civic engagement in our community. We are currently recruiting new Neighborhood Captains to join our field team as we prepare for the November general elections.

We invite you to attend one of the Hiring Nights on August 1, 15, or 29 from 5:00 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Mid-City CAN's office (4305 University Ave., Suite 550, San Diego CA, 92105) as your best opportunity to be hired for the Neighborhood Captain position.

Apply for a job with the team building power block by block in City Heights!

Youth Spotlight: Rosa Olascoaga Vidal

We recently spoke to Rosa who joined Mid-City CAN's Youth Council ten years ago and moved to San Francisco to go to college. She recently graduated from the University of San Francisco and shared her insight into how Youth Council helped her grow and prepare for college.

To learn more about Mid-City CAN's Youth Council or to join, contact Laura Baeza, Youth Organizer at lbaeza@midcitycan.org

Check out Rosa's story below:

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Residente Destacada: Stephanie Perez

En el 2017, Mid-City CAN inauguró su primer entrenamiento de liderazgo para preparar a residentes de City Heights para servir en comités de consejo para el gobierno municipal, conocidos como boards and commissions. Los comités de consejo influyen en la toma de decisiones de los diferentes departamentos de la ciudad y el condado de San Diego y en áreas tales como las artes y la cultura, los parques, la vivienda, la prevención de pandillas y las prácticas policiales. Por lo tanto, los comités de consejo son de suma importancia y quienes sirven en ellos deben representar a las diversas comunidades de San Diego.

Stephanie Perez, residente de City Heights y recién graduada del entrenamiento de liderazgo, platicó con nosotros sobre la importancia del entrenamiento y los comités de consejo:

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Youth Urge City Council Budget Allocation to Break School to Prison Pipeline

We commend councilmembers Gómez and Ward for including in their joint budget memo to the mayor our ask of $300 thousand for restorative justice training for police officers serving the Mid-City region. We would like to thank them for listening to the young people of City Heights working tirelessly to keep youth out of jail and in their schools, homes, and community where they can learn, grow, and develop. We would also like to thank Chief Nisleit for supporting Mid-City CAN in seeking additional training on restorative justice for his department.

Now that SDPD is part of the Restorative Community Conferencing program, we urge Mayor Faulconer to include in his final budget to be released on June 13, a budget allocation of $300 thousand to better prepare SDPD to serve the community through the restorative justice program.