Meet Our Team: Imani Marshall, Evaluation & Learning Analyst

    
Tell us about the work you do with MCC and what calls you to it?
I grew up in a community that used organizing and collaboration to secure the resources we need to survive and thrive. I have always been committed to supporting community organizing.
    
As Mid-City CAN’s Evaluation and Learning Analyst, I supports our programs, organizing, and advocacy with research. I use evaluation & research to question our current systems and demonstrate the impact of the policies & programs community we advocate for.
    
The sustainability of the work we do relies on us also taking care of ourselves as part of it. How do you like to take care of yourself?
I take care of myself by drawing, watching anime, reading fantasy and eating copious amounts of dark chocolate. Most importantly, I have family & friends that practice community care.
    
What is one of your favorite memories at MCC?
The unveiling of Mid-City CAN Youth Council's Schools Not Prisons mural. It was inspiring to see the community come out to support Youth Council.
    
What brings you joy?
My fiancé, family, friends and my puppy Sammy bring me so much joy . ❤️  
Imagine tomorrow is the first day after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. What visual comes to mind when you think of what you would do first?
First, I would visit my family in Chicago. Second, I would start organizing to make permanent the positive policy changes that were secured during the crisis. 

DJ Kuttin Kandi and the Asian Solidarity Collective taking action to uplift Asian American communities

As Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) heritage month comes to an end, we want to honor the Asian Solidarity Collective (ASC), a local organization that is doing work for our APIA community in San Diego. This organization works to uplift the Asian American community and activate a social justice consciousness through community building events, political education and outreach, and collective action. With a goal of collective liberation for all communities, the collective does not only work with the Asian American community, but stands in solidarity with other oppressed communities. Asian American experiences and histories are relational to, and not in competition with other oppressed communities. Recently, we were able to sit down with the collectives Organizer and Co-founder, DJ Kuttin Kandi, a legendary womxn DJ, a well-known public speaker of diversity, and a dedicated community organizer for social justice.


Do you celebrate APIA Heritage Month? If so, what are the ways your organization/community celebrate it?

Before Covid-19 struck, we usually center our annual fundraiser around this time of the year by lifting up the Black-Asian solidarity, and celebrate Malcolm X’s and Yuri Kochiyama’s birthdays. We lift up the work of our ancestral organizers like Yuri and Grace Lee Boggs and acknowledge that the need for solidarity is important; we can’t just talk about our own struggles, but also our cross-racial solidarity. Throughout the year, we work with our community on the daily educating our community and working with our community on racial solidarity and our hxstory.

 

Do you think it’s important to celebrate APIA Heritage Month? If so, can you share with us your thoughts on why recognizing APIAs is important?

My favorite subject is history - when I was picking a major, there weren’t many Filipinx historians. I am particularly inspired by the work of Filipinx historian Dr. Dawn Bohulano Mabalon who documented the work of Filipinx farmworkers; I want to lift up her legacy and she reminded us that Filipinx heritage month is not just heritage month - but Filipinx history month. We need an APIA history month (year, etc.) to focus on how do we reclaim our stories radically - this is how we celebrate our heritage by reclaiming our stories and histories.

 

If we want to highlight any unsung APIA heroes, can you name anyone of Asian and Pacific Islander descent who have contributed to communities here locally?

I only moved here to San Diego in 2006. My friend Virgil who died 3 years ago, was a community leader, committed to the arts, young people, Filipinx community, and the movement. He was so committed to our community that often forgot himself to put his community first. When I was sick, and had heart surgery, and almost died - he came to see me in the hospital even though he didn’t know me - we had things in common. He got a lot of love after he died, and he deserved that when he was living. It’s often when people die that we lift them up, but so important to keep lifting them up. Other folks in our community and organization know more in our community who are our ancestral organizers.

 

Have you or anyone you know experienced racism and anti-Asian sentiment during COVID-19?

From the work we’re doing, yes - we do know folks. The San Diego Asian Pacific Islander Coalition which recently formed here in San Diego, that Asian Solidarity Collective is also part of has been supporting and addressing anti-Asian racism and hatred through multi-strategizing

and making public statements to denounce all kinds of racism and xenophobia. Asian Solidarity Collective specifically is making a call for our communities to look at alternative models of a culture of accountability. And holding our govt leaders & organizational leaders accountable and making sure they’re emphasizing addressing oppression of any kind in our communities. The San Diego Asian Pacific Islander Coalition is in conversation with A3PCON (Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council) about this issue as well; and we’re all noticing the rise of anti-Asian hate in San Diego across the United States and globally.

 

What are some ways you think we can tackle the hatred rhetoric against APIAs? 

What Covid19 has brought to light is people’s existing biases against the Asian-American communities. The issue is not Covid19, but the ways in which our communities are policed, invisibilized and forgotten due to things like the model minority myth. We’re often used as either as tokens or as a racial wedge to further divide our communities. And this is being showcased at this time in SD too. We see people wanting to put together a human relations commission - but we were an after thought - conversations this big shouldn’t be only with a selected few people. But it should include a team that brings together a diverse group of people. This system is designed to do what it’s doing; but how do we break away from a system that constantly gives us handouts and doesn’t really give us freedom. To be liberated from any kind of hate rhetoric is to move towards an abolitionist world. We must think of the work of abolitionist work of Black activists and organizers. We have to lift up the work of Black and Indigenous organizers who have been fighting for liberation. We have to dig into our own biases, internalized racism, and how we’re also oppressive towards other communities of color, and then do the cross-solidarity work to build across races to bring liberation to all. How do we show up for people with disabilities, for queer folks, for people of all ages? We must look at how all forms of oppression are connected and how we do that as Asians is super important.

 

The end of APIA heritage month may be coming near, but that is no reason to stop celebrating organizations that seek justice for oppressed communities. The work done at these organizations is year round. We want to thank DJ Kuttin Kandi for all of her work done in the community, and for sharing with us some of her incredible insight on being a social justice advocate.


2019 Year in Review

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Congratulations from Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher for 30th Anniversary

MID-CITY COMMUNITY ADVOCACY NETWORK CHOSEN AS NONPROFIT OF THE YEAR

Mid-City Community Advocacy Network is proud to announce it has been selected as a 2019 California Nonprofit of the Year by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher.

The Mid-City Community Advocacy Network's mission is to create a safe, productive, and healthy community through collaboration, advocacy, and organizing. With the help of its residents and partners, they are able to drive positive change across many systems and issues that concern and affect the residents of City Heights.

“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.

Support community power and the prospect of a happier, healthier future for ALL by making a small contribution today!

“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.”

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.

About San Diego’s Nonprofit Landscape

12,832

Number of all federally registered nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations in San Diego County.

This includes everything from homeless shelters and fundraising foundations to trade associations and advocacy groups that promote causes such as increased transit options or environmental protection.

1,162

That represents the number of human services public charities in San Diego. This is the largest charitable category in the region. These groups provide services to specific communities such as children, seniors and the homeless. Human services charities include Boys & Girls Clubs, Meals-on-Wheels and Mama’s Kitchen, which delivers meals to homebound San Diegans with AIDS or cancer.

 

53 percent

This is the percentage of San Diego nonprofit revenue that comes from contributions such as government grants, individual donations or foundations. That’s about 20 percent more than the state average.

This means San Diego nonprofits are more reliant on outside income than the average California charity. One major difference: The average nonprofit in the state gets nearly two-thirds of its revenue from programs it offers while San Diego nonprofits report getting only 41 percent from that source.

San Diego nonprofits’ greater focus on outside dollars means they could be more vulnerable to the volatile nature of donations and grants.

It also likely means San Diego nonprofits have to spend more time applying for grants and seeking donations than those elsewhere, said Nancy Jamison, executive director at San Diego Grantmakers, which corrals foundations and other funders.

“If there’s a higher reliance on contributed revenue that means the organizations are having to work that much harder for that contributed dollar,” Jamison said. “Contributed dollars don’t just arrive.”


Mid-City CAN Awarded CA Nonprofit of the Year

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MID-CITY COMMUNITY ADVOCACY NETWORK CHOSEN AS NONPROFIT OF THE YEAR!

 NONPROFIT WILL BE HONORED BY ASSEMBLYWOMAN LORENA GONZALEZ-FLETCHER ON CALIFORNIA NONPROFITS DAY

 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."

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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.

Your support makes a difference!


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

BUY TICKETS | SPONSOR


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!

Sincerely,

Consuelo Martinez
Leadership Development Specialist

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Youth Wanted for Youth Council

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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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