From a small office in San Diego’s Golden Hill neighborhood, Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s year-old nonprofit One San Diego is trying to bridge the gap between the city’s wealthiest and most impoverished neighborhoods.
“One San Diego was really one of Kevin’s campaign platforms. His whole concept is that every neighborhood has to be doing well if San Diego is going to do well,” said his wife, Katherine, who serves as honorary chair of the nonprofit.
The organization’s office is in an old building with graffiti on the door. That’s on purpose to underscore a commitment to address what Faulconer calls “the divide between the communities north of the ‘8’ versus south of the ‘8.’”
Faulconer sees her role as fostering partnerships that bring together companies and other sponsors to provide very specific kinds of help to San Diego neighborhoods. And in her role as first lady of the city, she has many opportunities to see where help is needed.
“We’ll find a sponsor who wants to do something and we’ll sit down with them and create a program,” she explained. “There’s plenty of things that need help funding.”
Over the last year, One San Diego’s neighborhood projects have included:
- November 2014 — Provided 60 laptops for students to do homework at public libraries. Funding was provided by the Walmart Foundation and the San Diego Public Library Foundation.
- August 2015 — Distributed 300 backpacks filled with school supplies to low-income students in Barrio Logan in partnership with the Marlow B. Martinez Foundation.
- August 2015 — Organized a block party for residents of Southcrest with police officers and firefighters on hand in an effort to increase neighborhood cooperation.
- September 2015 — Provided 60 Chromebook laptops for use by students in the San Ysidro and Valencia Park/Malcolm X Branch libraries. Funding came from Cox Communications and the San Diego Library Foundation.
In addition, the nonprofit has organized a series of community forums to discuss issues facing particular communities from Otay Mesa to City Heights.
The block party was a major success, and another one is planned for the Webster neighborhood on Nov. 21. The police department is helping One San Diego pick the communities, with a goal of improving relationships in high crime areas.
Faulconer, who founded the event-management company Restaurant Events nearly 20 years ago, is using her organizational skills to bring resources from all over the city to improve communities.
“We’re not trying to re-invent the wheel,” she said. “We’re trying to bring people together to do more things.”
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