SAY San Diego’s mission is to partner with youth, adults, families, and communities to reach their full potential. Our vision is opportunity, equity and well-being for all San Diegans.
We are very pleased to share the impact of SAY San Diego’s daily work to improve and save lives in this 2018 annual progress report.
Conditions for a healthy family life can still be challenging for many. Although the economy has produced jobs, San Diego area families struggle to make ends meet, due to high costs, low wages, and under-employment. Many families still cannot access resources needed for child development and family wellness. Given these realities, our mission – to enable everyone to reach their fullest potential – is as important as ever.
2018 was pivotal, because the board of directors and staff acted on our vision to make an even greater contribution in the area of early childhood development. Come 2019, SAY San Diego will provide workplace childcare and preschool, spurring growth in this area by providing consultation to other employers who would like to do the same. Life’s earliest years are fleeting, yet absolutely foundational to healthy development. However, a majority of area families do not have access to high quality, nurturing, affordable care that supports both their child’s well-being and their need to work. Less than 10% of local employers offer childcare benefits, so we intend to set an example and serve as consultants to other employers interested in workplace-based care. We envision a time when excellent childhood care opportunities for families will be the norm not the exception.
2018 was also filled with accomplishments, as SAY San Diego’s team:
All of these accomplishments are made possible by our dedicated community of partners, volunteers, and donors who lift us up and support our work every day and every year. We’re excited about the future as we approach SAY San Diego’s 50th year in 2021, and very grateful to be looking forward together!
Nancy Gannon Hornberger
Chief Executive Officer
SAY’s before and after school programs provide students with unique enrichment activities like creating a newscast, planting a garden, or designing a science experiment, which help active youth focus their energies on creativity.
SAY San Diego partners with San Diego Unified School District for our Before and After School programs. Our programs provide a safe place for elementary and middle school aged youth to experience academic enrichment and recreation during the hours before and after the regular school day. Activities include homework assistance, arts and crafts, sports, creative and performing arts, and STEM. SAY San Diego runs PrimeTime programming at 21 schools in the San Diego Unified School District. We also offer Licensed Childcare programs at 17 San Diego Unified schools, as well as a middle school recreation program site, and one state-funded site.Dismiss
“Being in Elevated in a leadership capacity, changed me insurmountably. I was always very shy, but Elevated pushed me, gave me confidence, and showed me that I have a voice. I may be only one person, but I have the power to make a difference in my community and in the world.” – Natalie, Elevated graduate
SAY San Diego leadership development programs partner with teens on issues that pose significant threats to young people in our communities, such as prescription drug abuse, alcohol abuse, access to tobacco, and vaping. SAY youth participate in major efforts in the county through two different groups.
Club Elevated trains and supports local youth in awareness campaigns and peer outreach in the North Central region of San Diego. Teens educate peers through events and awareness campaigns focusing on prescription drug abuse prevention, environmental protection, retail alcohol assessments, and more. Club Elevated youth meet at the Serra High School campus to receive leadership and public speaking training.
Natalie, a graduate of Elevated and current UCLA freshman, states “I wouldn’t be who I am today and wouldn’t have achieved the same level of success in high school and with the college admission process, if I hadn’t joined Elevated.” Natalie hopes to someday turn her experiences with Elevated into a career, by going to law school and working to help disenfranchised youth in a law capacity.
Advocates for Change Today (ACT) is a youth leadership group committed to creating a safer City Heights community in the Central region of the county. Projects led by ACT youth include conducting store assessments of liquor stores and markets to support the Live Well San Diego Community Market Program, and promoting and participating in Prescription Drug Take Back Day. ACT members led peer workshops on topics including the dangers of impaired driving and drug-free prom and graduation.Dismiss
“Visiting colleges gives me a better understanding of how a school looks and feels, to see it in action. I like to talk to the runners and ask them questions about the school and what it’s like to attend. I hope to visit even more colleges.” – Nader, Crawford High School cross country and track athlete
Crawford High School is located in one of the most economically-challenged communities in San Diego County. With a large population of immigrants, refugees, and English-learners, most families lack the means to pay for college — so scholarships, both academic and athletic become a vehicle for youth to pursue higher education.
For student-athletes, it can be difficult to commit to a school and athletic program without visiting the campus and getting a first-hand feel for what it would be like to attend. In the past, Crawford students have struggled to find a way to visit college campuses outside of San Diego, but thanks to grant funding, students are now getting the opportunity to travel to campuses of their choosing.
Kelcie Butcher, Athletic Director at Crawford said, “it’s so nice to have the grant’s backing because now I can ask student-athletes ‘where do you want to go?’ Let’s put you on a train or a bus and get you where you need to be in order to see these places.’ We’re really trying to encourage kids to think bigger than just San Diego and let them check out options for college.”
One student who benefited from grant funding is Nader, a cross country and track standout with dreams of running in college. Nader was born in Sudan, raised in Egypt, and came to the US three years ago. Nader is drawing attention from several programs around the country, and has been fortunate to visit campuses like Vanguard University to connect with runners in the program and see what attending the school would be like. Being an athlete has opened doors for him in this country, and is his ticket into college and beyond. Nader is considering a career in nursing so he can help people.
In addition to transportation, the grant funding has been used to purchase computers at Crawford. Many students don’t have computers at home, so they can check out laptops in order to apply to college, take online courses, and catch up on homework. The computers are also used to create highlight films for student-athletes to submit to potential college programs.Dismiss
“Dads Corps provides a great forum of discussion for all fathers, whether it’s finances, work, family, or raising our kids. We’re able to assist each other and give each other advice, as well as assist and engage our community.” – Frank, Dads Corps graduate
SAY San Diego’s Dads Corps is one of the only programs of its kind in San Diego County that focuses on communication and peer support specific to military fathers. While military dads can regularly handle extreme demands with resourcefulness, parenthood presents its own unique challenges. SAY San Diego administers the Dads Corps program through its Military Family Resource Center in Murphy Canyon, home to the largest off-base military population in the world.Dismiss
“My favorite thing about teen court is being able to interact with people from unique perspectives and backgrounds. I’ve learned to keep an open mind because every situation is different and every person is deserving of empathy.” – Michelle, Teen Court volunteer
SAY San Diego works closely with San Diego County Probation on a variety of prevention and diversion programs aimed at providing youth and families with needed tools to move beyond risky behaviors. Overall, 95% of youth enrolled in SAY’s juvenile justice programs in the past year remained arrest free during the program.
The Community Assessment Team (CAT) specializes in partnering with youth seeking stability due to risk of involvement in the criminal justice or dependency systems. Youth and families receive support from a highly skilled team which provides comprehensive supportive services, resource coordination, and connections.
SAY San Diego’s Teen Court provides first time justice-involved juveniles ages 12-17 a chance to avoid incarceration and the criminal courts by accepting an alternative sentence selected by a jury of their peers.
Reflections Day Treatment program specializes in partnering with youth with mental health and substance abuse needs seeking recovery and stability, thereby reducing juvenile crime and youth in residential treatment facilities.
Alternatives to Detention provides low-risk juvenile offenders with detention alternatives and resources needed in order to successfully navigate and transition out of the juvenile justice system and avoid recidivism.Dismiss
“I enjoy the conversations in the group and hearing what other grandparents and foster parents have experienced. I like to take in all the information and use it with my granddaughter.” – Adrianne, Project KEEP client raising her granddaughter
Project KEEP provides support and education for foster parents and kinship caregivers, designed to improve their children’s behavior and decrease family stress. In 2018, more than 200 San Diego adults received training and support to be effective and nurturing caregivers to children traumatized in the past by parental separation. Many of the caregivers are grandparents who are learning to raise children again with approaches very different from when they were raising their own children.Dismiss
“Our goal is to make sure that no matter what it is that a family comes in for, we can provide the service right here. They know we’re here, they know that we can help them, and we’re going to work as a team.” – Mary Skrabucha, Sr. Program Director, retiring after 27 years at O’Farrell
Family Support Services (FSS) has been a critical component of the O’Farrell Charter School campus since 1990. The program addresses the needs of students and families at O’Farrell as well as the larger Southeastern San Diego community. With a goal of having as many resources available on campus as possible, O’Farrell FSS is often the first place families in the community turn to for help.
Students and families benefit from on-site social workers, individual and family counseling, attendance and behavioral support, emergency food and household supplies, First 5 First Steps programming, and more. The center is a safe haven where parents without internet or a phone at home can apply for jobs and make important calls, and where introverted students feel comfortable eating lunch in a quiet welcoming place.
A unique staff member at O’Farrell FSS is Sajera, a licensed facility dog, who provides comfort and support to students who visit the center.
“Sajera is calming. Kids come in and lay on the floor, they pet and play with her. What’s interesting is if CPS, a lawyer, or police officer comes in to see a student, she will follow them into the room and sit with the kid until she knows that the kid feels comfortable, and then she’ll leave. She does that totally on her own. I didn’t train her to do that,” said Mary Skrabucha, Senior Program Director.
While teachers and students often ask for Sajera’s assistance at O’Farrell, the true heart of the program is Mary Skrabucha. Mary took over as director in the second year of the program’s existence and has been passionately serving the community in the 27 years since.
Mary says, “We work really hard and we love what we do. I’ve loved coming here every single day for the past 27 years. No two days are ever alike.”
As Mary prepares to retire at the end of 2018, SAY San Diego would like to express our gratitude for all she has done for SAY San Diego and the O’Farrell community. She and Sajera will be missed.
Click here to read an article about Sajera and the important work she does on campus.Dismiss
“There’s nothing else like our program on this campus. We look at the whole child and the whole family to determine how we can empower each student to grow, thrive, and be the best that they can be.” – Shannon Stracener, Program Manager
Serra Real Connections (SRC), located on the campus of Serra High School, is an inclusive resource center that serves students and their families in the Tierrasanta and Murphy Canyon communities. With a large population of military youth, Serra Real Connections is often the first stop when a new student arrives on campus. The center serves as a safe space for students in need of a quiet place to think or someone to talk to. Students benefit from tutoring, mentoring, leadership clubs, and after school enrichment activities.
SRC hosts a variety of programs for Serra students that strengthen emotional and social confidence, develop leadership skills, enhance campus climate, and prepare them for college or post-high school success.
“I would advise any new arrival to this country to get involved in their child’s education, attend meetings, and ask questions. It’s through those meetings that you learn about resources like where to find a job.” – Marie, refugee mom and current SAY employee
Crawford Community Connection (CCC) partners with diverse community programs to serve students and their families in Mid City by linking them to services as needed. These referrals relate to needs of emergency food, medical and dental assistance, public benefits screenings, and parent and child development services. Additionally, CCC convenes and facilitates the Crawford Community Collaborative and the Parent Student Resident Organization (PSRO).
The Collaborative is made up of representatives from organizations and schools to provide an opportunity for ideas, communication, coordination, advocacy, and networking that support the students and families living and attending schools within the Crawford Cluster community.
PSRO supports and organizes meaningful resident engagement issues in the City Heights community that aims to enable families to have better health, language access, and improved community-based and school-based support.
Marie and her family are refugees from Tanzania, who arrived in this country three years ago. As a mother of five, without any knowledge of the English language, Marie relied heavily on CCC’s programs to help her navigate her new environment, understand the American school system, and learn about valuable resources.
One of the biggest challenges for Marie was finding a job without work experience and with very limited English skills. Through her involvement with CCC and PSRO, Marie made a connection with program directors from SAY’s before and after school programs, who helped her apply for a job at a school site. Marie has been happily employed as an after school teacher’s aide since August. The kids embrace Marie and the language barrier is rarely an issue. She’s even teaching Swahili to the students who are interested.
Marie feels extremely blessed to have been connected with Crawford and SAY, and is thankful for the donors who support the organization. She says she is a product of their support and hopes many others can benefit in the way she has.Dismiss
We are grateful to the many companies, organizations, and individuals who provide critical private funding to support our work.
The San Diego County Employees’ Charitable Organization (CECO), distributes individual employee donations to local nonprofit programs every year. In 2018, SAY was once again the grateful recipient of grants funded by employees and retirees of the County of San Diego and San Diego Superior Court. Thanks to CECO support, more teens received school supplies and running gear for a physical fitness program for justice-involved youth.Dismiss
“Volunteering is important to me because it allows me to give back. I may not be able to donate a lot of money, but I can donate my time.” – Christina, Dads Corps volunteer
Volunteers make it possible for SAY to improve the lives of youth, families, and communities throughout the year. In the past year 408 volunteers served an estimated 14,967 hours to support SAY. Volunteer opportunities include event support, community projects, before and after school assistance, internships, administrative support, and pro bono expertise.
SAY is proud to have been certified as a “Service Enterprise” by Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service. With this certification, SAY joins a prestigious group of nonprofits committed to effectively delivering on their missions by strategically engaging volunteer time and talent. SAY is one of 300 service enterprises nationwide that fundamentally leverage volunteers and their skills throughout their organizations.Dismiss
“Having gratitude for the life you lead and realizing how fortunate you are inspires you to try to improve the life of others.” – Arturo Kassel, Managing Partner Whisknladle Hospitality
SAY San Diego is grateful for our corporate partners who continue to support us year after year with wonderful fundraising events.