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Food Focused Program Narrows Gap

THE AFRO — Building Bridges Across the River (BBAR) and Seeds of Change are partnering up to create a “food-focused” accelerator program to narrow the food gap in the District, especially in Wards 7 and 8. The collaboration, strengthened by a $115,000 grant from Mars, Inc., the organization behind the Seeds of Change Project, will provide food literacy programs, nutrition and farming workshops through the upcoming months at THEARC and several other locations.

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By George Kevin Jordan

Building Bridges Across the River (BBAR) and Seeds of Change are partnering up to create a “food-focused” accelerator program to narrow the food gap in the District, especially in Wards 7 and 8.

The collaboration, strengthened by a $115,000 grant from Mars, Inc., the organization behind the Seeds of Change Project, will provide food literacy programs, nutrition and farming workshops through the upcoming months at THEARC and several other locations.

“What the Seeds of Change sponsorship has been able to do is not only support the producing of food, but inspire the next food producers,” said, Scott Kratz, vice president of Building Bridges Across the River, and director of the 11th Street Bridge Park.

“This is the largest single grant that we’ve received and it allows us to do so much for the community,” Kratz said. “We’re really excited about it.”

According to an article by the DC Policy Center more than three-fourths of food deserts are located in Wards 7 and 8. The program will help residents with access to fresh food and offer ways to grow, cook and learn about health foods.

There are classes that will focus on composting, herbalism, canning preserving and fermenting and even bee harvesting. Many classes are at THEARC’s main campus located at 1901 Mississippi Avenue S.E. However several classes are located throughout Wards 7 and 8 including The National Children’s Center at 3400 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue S.E., and Kelly Miller Middle School located at 301 49th Street N.E.

D.C. is the second U.S. city where Seeds of Change is donating grants and creating programming to address food disparities as part of a larger, country-wide initiative, the first being Chicago, according to Sara Schulte, External Communications Manager of Mars, Incorporated.

“We got connected with Scott and BBAR with some other community works through Mars,” Schulte said. “We knew we wanted to get involved in the work they were doing.”

“When we look for partners, we look for people who share our mission and who are also focused on providing healthier greener communities. So when we talked to Scott it was such a great fit.”

Mars is a family-owned business with more than a century of history making diverse products and offering services, according to their website.

In addition, thanks to the SOC sponsorship, BBAR will also be employing an intern to learn about urban agriculture. Tatiana Bogans, 22, a D.C. resident will intern with BBAR until November.

“Basically I will be working with the farmers, which includes weeding harvesting, basically keeping the farm together,” Bogans said. “I like working outdoors and I like community work so it was a good fit.”

After her internship, Bogans hopes to one day attend the University of the District of Columbia and study environmental science and agriculture.

“This is a really good job if you like being outside and giving back to the community,” Bogans said.

All the programming is free and open to the public. For a full list of classes and workshops please go to: https://bbardc.org/workshops-classes/

This article originally appeared in The Afro.

Activism

Biden Administration Invests $145 Million in Re-Entry Programs for Formerly Incarcerated

According to a 2021 Stanford University Study, reentry programs in California have contributed to a 37% decrease in the average re-arrest rate over the period of a year.

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By Aldon Thomas Stiles, California Black Media

After serving a 22-year sentence in a California prison, James Morgan, 51, found himself facing a world of opportunities that he did not imagine he would have as an ex-convict once sentenced to life for attempted murder.

Morgan, a Carson native, says he is grateful for a second chance at life, and he has taken full advantage of opportunities presented him through California state reentry and rehabilitation programs.

After completing mental health care for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Morgan was released from prison and granted parole in 2018.

“I did not expect what I found when I got out,” Morgan told California Black Media (CBM), explaining that he was fortunate to participate in a program for the formerly incarcerated in San Francisco.

“I was mandated by the courts to spend a year in transitional housing,” said Morgan. “Those guys walked us through everything. They made it really easy. It was all people I could relate to, and they knew how to talk to me because they used to be in the prison population —and they were from where we were from.”

Morgan says he also took lessons on anger management and time management.

Now, he is currently an apprentice in Local 300 Laborers Union, specializing in construction, after he participated in a pre-apprenticeship program through ARC (the Anti-Recidivism Coalition).

“Right now, I’m supporting my family,” Morgan said. “I’d say I’m doing pretty good because I hooked up with the right people.”

Supporters of criminal justice reform say Morgan’s success story in California is particularly encouraging.

Black men in the Golden State are imprisoned nearly 10 times the rate of their white counterparts, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. And just a little over a decade ago in 2011, the Supreme Court of the United States ordered California to reduce the number of inmates in its overcrowded prison system by 33,000. Of that population, nearly 30% were Black men even though they account for about 5% of the state’s population.

To help more formerly incarcerated people like Morgan get back on their feet after paying their debt to society, last month the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Labor announced that the federal government is investing $145 million over the course of the next fiscal year to support reentry programs across the country.

The Biden-Harris Administration also announced plans to expand federal job opportunities and loan programs, expand access to health care and housing, and develop and amplify educational opportunities for the formerly and currently incarcerated.

“It’s not enough to just send someone home, it’s not enough to only help them with a job. There’s got to be a holistic approach,” said Chiraag Bains, deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the White House Domestic Policy Council on Racial Justice and Equity.

Bains told CBM that that reentry programs help establish an “incarceration-to-employment pipeline.”

The White House announced the programs late last month as President Joe Biden commuted the sentences of 75 people and granted pardons to another three, including Abraham Bolden, the first Black Secret Service agent on White House detail.

Bolden had been sentenced to 39 months in prison in 1964 for allegedly attempting to sell classified Secret Service documents. He has always maintained his innocence.

“Today, I granted pardons to three people and commuted the sentences of 75 people. America is a nation of laws, but we are also a nation of second chances, redemption, and rehabilitation,” Biden tweeted April 26.

According to Bains, about half of the people the President pardoned are Black or Brown.

“The president has spoken repeatedly about the fact that we have too many people serving time in prison for nonviolent drug offenses and too many of those people are Black and Brown,” said Bains. “This is a racial equity issue.”

Both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have faced sharp criticisms in the past for supporting tough-on-crime policies that, as U.S. Senator and California Attorney General respectively, have had disproportionately targeted Blacks and other minorities.

According to a 2021 Stanford University Study, reentry programs in California have contributed to a 37% decrease in the average re-arrest rate over the period of a year.

Over the last decade, California has funded a number of initiatives supporting reentry and rehabilitation. In 2015, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation launched the Male Community Re-Entry Program (MCRP) that provides community-based rehabilitative services in Butte, Kern, Los Angeles and San Diego Counties. The Butte program services Tehama, Nevada, Colusa, Glenn, Sutter, Placer and Yuba counties.

A year later, Gov. Newsom’s office introduced the California Community Reinvestment Grant Program. The initiative funds community groups providing services like job placement, mental health treatment, housing and more to people, including the formerly incarcerated, who were impacted by the War on the Drugs.

Morgan spoke highly of programs that helped him reintegrate into society — both in prison and after he was released.

“In hindsight, I look back at it and I’m blown away by all of the ways that they’ve helped me,” Morgan said.

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Activism

UC Berkeley Students Protest Supreme Court Abortion Decision

Two pro-choice activists, Danielle Roseman and Alisa Steel currently believe the law will be overturned. However, they said, “our voices are our best asset to combat (this) and we will continue to protest.” Both seniors at University of California, Berkeley, they decided to organize a campus protest on Sproul Plaza, which took place May 3. 

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By Sarah Clemens

When it comes to reproductive health, the future looks both unprecedented and regressive.

A Supreme Court draft to overturn Roe v. Wade, the controversial ruling that declared the right to abortion, was leaked on May 2, 2022. In the draft, Justice Alito wrote that “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start.” The very act of leaking a supreme court draft is unprecedented. The last time it occurred was in 1973 with the original Roe v. Wade decision. In a press release the Supreme Court said the leak was authentic, but “it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member.” Final or not, thousands have already begun to protest.

Two pro-choice activists, Danielle Roseman and Alisa Steel currently believe the law will be overturned. However, they said, “our voices are our best asset to combat (this) and we will continue to protest.” Both seniors at University of California, Berkeley, they decided to organize a campus protest on Sproul Plaza, which took place May 3.

The Daily Cal newspaper estimated that “hundreds” attended. After contacting Roseman on social media, they both co-wrote answers to questions posed by this reporter.

“We knew the only way for our voices to be heard was to create a peaceful protest,” Roseman and Steel said. They weren’t alone.

NPR documented protesters across the country with similar stances on the issue from Washington to New York. Some states have existing laws in place that protect abortion rights. Others do not.

The original Roe v. Wade court case happened when a Texas woman by the name Jane Roe alleged that Texas’ abortion laws were unconstitutional. Almost 50 years later, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott supported a law that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, with no rape or incest exceptions.

When asked by a reporter, “why force a rape or incest victim to carry a pregnancy to term?” Abbott responded, “It doesn’t require that at all, because, obviously, it provides at least six weeks for a person to be able to get an abortion.”

Despite overwhelming backlash, abortion becoming illegal appears preordained. Yet, throughout history around the world abortion has never stopped despite its illegality. In the 19th century, a doctor named Ann Lohman was called “the wickedest woman in New York” for her practice of giving women abortions.

When California state Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) made a statement on the new bill, she cited this history. “Unlike women before me, I grew up without having to face the choice of a back-alley abortion…If Roe v. Wade is overturned, the Supreme Court will not prevent abortions, instead they will unleash unsafe and often deadly abortions.”

For many years the battle over abortion has been heavily stigmatized. As a result, there is a strong defeatist attitude among many voicing concerns on social media. Roseman and Steel thought otherwise.

“With our voices, we can mobilize, protest, sign petitions, get the word out, and send a shockwave to the politicians who think they have control over our bodies. So get out and get loud!”

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Bay Area

Mayor London Breed, Speaker Nancy Pelosi Celebrate Grand Opening of 100% Affordable Housing in Mission

“As a proud representative for San Francisco, it was my privilege to join Mayor London Breed in celebrating Casa Adelante’s grand opening,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “This development will be a vital anchor for The Mission’s Latino community, providing families with the homes they need to survive and the services they need to thrive. It was an honor to help secure $2 million in federal funds for the community-serving nonprofits in Casa Adelante, and House Democrats will continue fighting to expand affordable housing as we Build a Better America.”

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San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. Twitter.com photo.

2828 16th Street provides 143 affordable homes for low-income families, including 36 homes for public housing residents

Mayor London N. Breed joined Speaker Nancy Pelosi and community leaders on May 5 to celebrate the grand opening of Casa Adelante — 2828 16th St., a 143-unit, 100% affordable housing development in the Mission District.

Formerly known as 1990 Folsom, the development designates 36 units for public housing residents relocating from Potrero Hill and Sunnydale HOPE SF sites. The remaining 107 units are designated for low-income households making between 40% and 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI).

Additionally, 2828 16th St. offers 30 units with accessibility features for people with impaired mobility and three units with features for people with impaired vision and/or hearing.

“These 143 units come at a time when addressing housing affordability for all San Franciscans is crucial,” said Breed. “2828 16th Street allows families to stay rooted in their community while providing critical on-site services that will help them thrive in the neighborhood they call home. This project is a perfect example of how we are working to make San Francisco a more affordable place to live for everyone.”

“As a proud representative for San Francisco, it was my privilege to join Mayor London Breed in celebrating Casa Adelante’s grand opening,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “This development will be a vital anchor for The Mission’s Latino community, providing families with the homes they need to survive and the services they need to thrive. It was an honor to help secure $2 million in federal funds for the community-serving nonprofits in Casa Adelante, and House Democrats will continue fighting to expand affordable housing as we Build a Better America.”

The building on 2828 16th Street transformed a vacant and underutilized property into a mixed-use development with space for the arts, nonprofits, early child care, and education. In addition to the 143 units, the development features an inner courtyard, rooftop urban farm, two community rooms, and bicycle parking.

The property also includes an affordable childcare center operated by the Felton Institute, ground-floor space for Mission-based nonprofits Galería de la Raza and HOMEY to provide community empowerment and cultural enrichment programming, and on-site social work and property management services provided by Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC).

“I am incredibly proud of the work that TNDC and MEDA have done, in collaboration with funders and our City partners, to bring 143 affordable new homes for families in District 9 at Casa Adelante — 2828 16th Street,” said Supervisor Hillary Ronen. “This 100% affordable housing development, that will be home to more than 300 community members and includes on-site childcare and a rooftop urban farm for free produce, is exactly what is needed to keep our working families and residents home in San Francisco.”

“In celebrating the opening of Casa Adelante — 2828 16th Street, we celebrate the opportunity for families, children, and individuals to build stability and vibrant futures in San Francisco,” said Maurilio León, CEO of TNDC. “This building is a testament to innovation in affordable housing. With on-site services like a rooftop farm providing access to free produce and options for affordable childcare, TNDC and our many partners are actualizing a strong community for current and future generations.”

“Casa Adelante — 2828 16th Street symbolizes how we have upended the narrative in the Mission, as we continue to turn the tide of displacement of residents and arts and cultural institutions in our community,” said Luis Granados, CEO of Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA). “MEDA is honored that in conjunction with the Mission community, co-developer TNDC, numerous funders, and valued City partners, 143 households and three esteemed organizations all now have a place to call their permanent home.”

Completed in November 2021, the eight-story, 155,000-square-foot building and associated landscaping were designed by Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects (LMSA) and GLS Landscape to address the community’s need for family-centered homes, affordable arts space, and cultural preservation. 2828 16th Street received a LEED Gold Certification in recognition of its achievement and leadership in sustainable design and construction.

2828 16th Street represents a joint venture partnership between Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC) and Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA). The development team leveraged low-income housing tax credits, tax-exempt bonds, a mortgage, and federal Project-Based Vouchers.

The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development invested more than $46 million into the project through the 2015 General Obligation Bond. Bank of America, Barings Multifamily Capital/MassMutual, and Century Housing Corporation provided additional financing. Local firms LMSA, GLS Landscape, Nibbi Brothers General Contractors and Gubb & Barshay were enlisted on the project.

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