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.

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


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 [email protected]

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.

SDPD Joins Mid-City CAN and Law Enforcement Partners for Restorative Justice Program

Chief David Nisleit and the San Diego Police Department have joined community members and law enforcement partners to end unjust youth incarceration by joining the Restorative Community Conferencing (RCC) program. SDPD will be able to refer certain juvenile offenders to the Restorative Community Conferencing program rather than seeking prosecution, which disproportionately incarcerates young people of color.

With Chief Nisleit's signature in May, the San Diego Police Department officially joins the RCC Memorandum of Understanding to provide an alternative to youth "who were arrested for felonies, high-level misdemeanors, and probation violations," as outlined in the MOU.

Our criminal justice system is like an exceptionally difficult maze, with too many paths in and too few ways out, especially for youth of color. The RCC program prevents youth from entering this maze and gives them an opportunity to be accountable to their "victim, family, community and self."

With SDPD's participation in the RCC program, many more youth will have an opportunity to remain in school, with their families, and their communities. Mid-City CAN looks forward to working with Chief Nisleit, SDPD, and the continued partnership with community members and the other juvenile law enforcement agencies.

Current Restorative Community Conferencing partners:

  • Mid-City CAN
  • San Diego County District Attorney's Office Juvenile Division
  • San Diego County Probation
  • San Diego Unified School District Police Department
  • National Conflict Resolution Center
  • San Diego County Sheriff Department
  • San Diego County Public Defender's Office

Student Leaders Recognized for Campaign to Fund Regional Transit Passes for Youth

Hoover High School students in City Heights are determined to ensure that young people are prioritized in decisions about transportation and community development because a great transit system should be affordable, safe, efficient, and of course, FUN!

May was National Bike Month and dockless bike company, OFO, recognized the student leaders of City Heights’ newly-formed Hoover Improving Transportation City Heights (ITCH) Club with a donation of 22 bikes for their campaign to fund no-cost transit passes for youth. The bikes were awarded to the student leaders of Hoover ITCH and to the writers of exceptional essays about the positive impact of bike ridership on the environment and the community. Local advocates for active transportation, climate action, and community development were present to support the youth-led program.

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Community Convening Launches Planning for Remaining Years of Building Healthy Communities

city heights mid-city can san diego community convening

April's Community Convening launched the planning process for the final three years of City Heights Building Healthy Communities (BHC). The upcoming planning process will run from May through December—stay tuned for the detailed timeline—and will build new strategies for current campaigns and define a community vision for the post-building healthy communities period.

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Interpreter Spotlight: Guillermo Mendez

interpreter city heights san diego mid-city can

Interpreters have a unique opportunity to be a linguistic and cultural bridge for the community of City Heights and beyond. Mid-City CAN works with interpreters to ensure our diverse community is at the center of our campaigns to build a safe, productive, and healthy City Heights.
If you’re interested in joining Mid-City CAN’s roster of on-call interpreters, come to our Interpreter Recruitment Night.
Following the Interpreter Recruitment Night, we will offer an interpreter training on May 24th at 5:30 p.m. at Mid-City CAN.
On-call interpreters are considered independent contractors of Mid-City CAN. Languages of interest include Spanish, Somali, Vietnamese, and others.