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Update on Richmond Rapid Response Fund, Seek Support for Phase II



Richmond Mayor Tom Butt is joining community and government leaders including staff from the city, RYSE Center, EdFUND West, Richmond Promise, Building Blocks for Kids (BBK), and the Richmond Rent Program to seek the public’s help in closing the fundraising gap for Phase I of the Richmond Rapid Response Fund (R3F) and gain support for Phase II.

R3F, which was born out of a group of over 100 cross-sector stakeholders called the West Contra Costa COVID Community Care Coalition, is a wraparound initiative working to meet the immediate and ongoing needs of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

The fund is designed to support the community in three phases – 1) direct financial disbursement to residents 2) expand financial assistance and support for community-based organizations; and 3) facilitate a community needs assessment and ongoing infrastructure support. A fundraising goal of $1 million was set for Phase I of the fund and a total minimum goal of $9 million has been set to support all three phases of R3F.

“For many households, R3F is making the difference in whether parents can put food on the table for their kids or cover other essential expenses,” Butt said. “We need as much help as we can get to continue supporting Richmond residents struggling to make ends meet. If you have the means to give during this time, I urge you to support the work being done through R3F,” the mayor continued.

Since launching on May 5, 2020, R3F has raised over $375,000 towards its Phase I goal of $1 million – 100% of which has gone to residents through direct financial disbursements. To date, R3F has supported approximately 330 families and individuals with more expected to be served through Phase I funding.

As R3F leaders work to meet their Phase I fundraising goal, the response fund is simultaneously seeking funds for Phase II which will provide support to community-based organizations and establish a Rent Assistance Program for Displacement and Homelessness Prevention to provide greater financial assistance to residents at risk of losing their housing as eviction moratoriums expire.

“In Phase I, we recognize many of the residents that received a disbursement used the funds to pay their rent. This reality prompted the team to move into Phase II with an emphasis on ensuring people in Richmond can remain housed. With the support from the community and philanthropic partners, we are building one of the first community-led funds while simultaneously responding to the crisis impacting our community” said the R3F Core Team.

Since launching in May, R3F has received donations from several foundations, organizations, and businesses including The California Endowment, Contra Costa Regional Health Foundation, East Brother Beer Company, Hellman Foundation, Mayor’s Community Fund, SH Cowell Foundation, Richmond Community Foundation, RYSE Center and The San Francisco Foundation.

The fund also received more than $10,000 in donations from over 50 individual donors. R3F’s earliest support came in the form of a $25,000 technical grant from the Hellman Foundation, and Butt was the first to commit a donation to the fund through a $25,000 contribution from the Mayor’s Community Fund.

In addition to using direct financial disbursement funds to pay rent, survey data from Phase I shows that food and groceries are among the most common expenses paid using R3F’s direct financial disbursement funding.

Other top expenses include utilities, household expenses, transportation, and school supplies. Survey data also shows that Latino and African-American residents are the leading recipients of R3F’s direct financial disbursement funding.

“I was just rehired after being laid off for the summer due to COVID, but my fall hours have been cut. Thank you for considering me and trying to take care of the folks of Richmond,” said a recipient of direct financial disbursement, who will remain anonymous.

To help support long-term fiscal sustainability for direct financial disbursement recipients, R3F has partnered with Community Financial Resources (CFR) to help individuals and families work toward economic security and financial literacy. As a result of the partnership, some R3F recipients are opting to use their pre-loaded debit card that contains their funding as a bank account.

“Our partnership with CFR highlights the uniqueness of R3F,” said the R3F Core Team. “R3F is looking beyond just providing resources during COVID-19 and we’re providing tools to build and sustain lives after the crisis is over,” R3F leaders continued.

R3F’s unique work thus far has helped earn a National Philanthropy Day Award for Outstanding Foundation or Grantmaking Organization and other award nominations. As R3F closes the gap in Phase I funding and expands to Phase II, the fund will continue focusing on its core priority areas: Food and Essential Supplies, Education and Learning, Health and Healing, Housing and Homelessness, and Economic Recovery and Security. Donations for Phases I and II of R3F will continue to be used to directly serve Richmond community members in most need of assistance.

For more information about the Richmond Rapid Response Fund, including how to donate and how funds will be distributed to the community, visit All donations are tax-deductible.

Jasmine Jones is the executive director of the EdFUND West and Christopher Whitmore is the chief of staff for Richmond Mayor Tom Butts.

Michelle Snider

Associate Editor for The Post News Group. Writer, Photographer, Videographer, Copy Editor, and website editor documenting local events in the Oakland-Bay Area California area.
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Bay Area

Juneteenth ‘Round the Bay.

Juneteenth is upon us, and it seems that since it achieved status as a federal holiday, the celebration is being held in different places, and where it’s been well established, activities have expanded from one day in length to two or three. Below are just few of the places that will be celebrating. Take your pick!



The 2022 Richmond Juneteenth Parade passes through the Juneteenth Freedom Underpass Mural at S. 37th St. en route to the festival grounds at Nicholl Park. Richmond Standard photo.
The 2022 Richmond Juneteenth Parade passes through the Juneteenth Freedom Underpass Mural at S. 37th St. en route to the festival grounds at Nicholl Park. Richmond Standard photo.

Juneteenth is upon us, and it seems that since it achieved status as a federal holiday, the celebration is being held in different places, and where it’s been well established, activities have expanded from one day in length to two or three. Below are just few of the places that will be celebrating. Take your pick!


Established by Hella Creative, the Oakland Museum of California is hosting Hella Juneteenth: The Cookout. This year’s theme, the cookout, was chosen because of the significance “the cookout” holds in Black culture. Tickets are $10 for people over 12 and you can pre-purchase a cookout plate for $25 on the OMCA website.

Day: Wed., June 19

Time: 1 5 p.m.

Place: Oakland Museum, 1000 Oak St.

Price: $10

For more info, go to

Fallen Heroes, Rising Stars: A Juneteenth Celebration Through Dance is hosted by the Grown Women Dance Collective in Old Oakland. The Dance Collective will also host community classes from Thursday June 20 through Saturday June 22

Day: Sat. June 22

Time: 3 p.m.

Place: Ninth and Washington streets


For more info, go to

Oakland’s 17th Annual Juneteenth Street Festival will have gospel, rap, R&B, jazz performances, a martial arts demonstration, motorcycle club display, exhibits and more

Day: June 22

Time: 11:30 a.m. t-6:00 p.m.

Place: 3233 Market Street



The 37th Annual Berkeley Juneteenth Festival will feature The Dynamic Miss Faye Carroll, Samba Funk! And Boss Tootie among others.

Day: Sat. June 16

Time: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Place: 3271-3299 Adeline St, Berkeley, CA 94703


For more info, go to:


Vallejo’s 34th Annual Juneteenth Festival and Parade, sponsored by African American Family Reunion Committee, features a Pop-Up Paint Party and art contest for school-aged youth from grades TK to 12 and more. The festival, including entertainment, wares for sale by vendors and information from community resources follows the parade.

Day: Sat. June 15

Time: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Place: Barbara Kodylis Waterfront Green

301 Mare Island Way in Vallejo.


For more information, go to


Enjoy live music, dance performances, cultural displays, local vendors, delicious food, and family-friendly activities throughout the day at the Juneteenth Parade and Festival.

Day: Sat. June 22

Time: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Place: Nicholl Park in Richmond, CA from 10- 6 pm.

3230 Macdonald Ave, Richmond

For more information, go to

San Francisco

San Francisco will hold its ‘Decades’ Juneteenth Festival, marking 48 years of holding the celebration. For eight blocks in the historic Fillmore District, something will be going on, from food, to music to fun!

Day: Sat. June 15

Time: 11a.m. to 6 p.m.

Place: On Fillmore Street from Geary Boulevard to Fulton Street.


For more info, go to


Marin City will hold its Eighth Annual Juneteenth Festival. This year’s theme is Umoja wa Jumuiy, meaning ‘Communities United.

According to the web site, the festival “highlights local vendors and small businesses who come together in an African Marketplace.”

Supervised childcare is provided in a gated playground. A jumping tent, face painting, arts and crafts, and horse rides.

Date: Sat. June 22

Time: 10:30 a.m. -6 p.m.

Place: Rocky Graham Park, 830 Drake Ave., Marin City, 94965

FREE! VIP tickets are available for meal voucher, waited service & valet parking, go to

For more info, call 415-299-7571, or go to

San Rafael’s first Juneteenth will be hosted by Christ Presbyterian Church. The church “invites Marin County to celebrate and remember the contributions of African Americans who advanced the development of Marin County.”

Day: Sat., June 15

Time: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Place: Christ Presbyterian Church

620 Del Ganado Road

San Rafael, CA


For more information, go to

Mill Valley will hold a Juneteenth featuring, food, music, and fun including a basketball tournament.

Day: Sat. June 15

Time: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Place: Mount Tamalpais High School

700 Miller Ave. Mill Valley


For more info, go to:

South County


Hayward’s Juneteenth will feature a Blues Festival!

Day: Sat. June 22

Time: 12p.m.-6 p.m.

Place: Hayward Heritage Plaza

           835 C St., Hayward

For more info, go to

San Leandro

Join us for a Juneteenth Holiday celebration with a presentation by Chef Wanda Blake, of Wanda’s Cooking. Delve into the rich culinary traditions tied to this meaningful holiday while enjoying light refreshments. Discover the stories behind the flavors and celebrate the spirit of Juneteenth!

Day:  Tues. June 18

Time: 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Place: San Leandro Public Library
300 Estudillo Ave., San Leandro

For more info,


The San Joaquin Juneteenth Foundation will hold its 48th annual event with the theme: Love, Respect, Honor. It will feature community awards, health, education, and history expos; free Father’s Day photos; small business assistance; food and merchant vendors, food and exercise demonstrations.

Day: Sat. June 15

Time: 10 a.m.- 6 p.m.

Place: Weber Point Events Center

221 North Center St.

Stockton 95202

FREE! Reserve a spot at

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Bay Area


Rev. Talia Benet has been making a difference in the African American Bay Area Community since 1984. For the past four years her impact has been felt as the executive director of the Health & Human Resource Education Center (HHREC) located in Oakland.



Rev. Talia Benet is senior pastor of Taylor Chapel CME Church in Vallejo. Courtesy photo.
Rev. Talia Benet is senior pastor of Taylor Chapel CME Church in Vallejo. Courtesy photo.

Pastor Talia Benet: An Advocate for Economic Development

The Pastor, Mother, Consultant, and Difference-Maker

By Antoinette Porter

Rev. Talia Benet has been making a difference in the African American Bay Area Community since 1984.  For the past four years her impact has been felt as the executive director of the Health & Human Resource Education Center (HHREC) located in Oakland.  HHREC was founded in 1984 and is funded by Alameda County Behavioral Health and the Mental Health Services Act.  HHREC has six community-based programs that are rooted and centered in health and wellness.  HHREC is committed to creating healthy communities by improving the overall health and quality of life of Bay Area residents.  They focus on reducing the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, as well as eliminating racism and violence of all kinds. HHREC acts as a fiscal agent for the Alameda County Office of Ethnic Services, The African American Health & Wellness Steering Committee, and the Alameda County Workforce Education and Training Program with Ohlone College.  Rev. Talia Benet is also the owner of a consulting firm that offers fund development strategy and provides grant writing services.

Benet is the senior pastor of Taylor Chapel CME Church located in Vallejo.  Taylor Chapel CME Church has served the Vallejo community for over 74 years. Pastor Talia credits her mentor, Bishop Charley Hames, Jr. for preparing her for such a time as this.

She is the proud daughter of retired attorney and Navy Vietnam veteran Mansour Salahudin. She is also the honored mother of Sparkle Hicks, currently attending Chico State.  Pastor Talia is engaged to retired Air Force veteran Michael Solomon.

“As far as impact, my goal is to build up the younger generation, coming behind me.  I often tell them my job is to pray for them and teach them how to “skip” to the bank!  The CME church has a rich history, but the youth must have a role and should be taught the value of community.  It’s all about mentorship!  At Taylor Chapel CME Church our young adult ministry takes the lead.”

This is the impact this woman of God has on her church and the community.

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Bay Area

Former Holy Names University Education Students Struggle to Complete Credentials, Call on HNU Trustees to Honor Commitment to Pay Teacher Training Scholarships

A group of former Holy Names University (HNU) education students are seeking support from local leaders and members of the public to push the HNU Board of Trustees to honor its commitment to use a still existing $55 million endowment to pay tuition for its education students who are now at other teacher training institutions after the university closed and abandoned them.



Former Holy Names students who are teaching while finishing their teacher training are shown online during a Zoom meeting. Courtesy photo.
Former Holy Names students who are teaching while finishing their teacher training are shown online during a Zoom meeting. Courtesy photo.

By Ken Epstein

A group of former Holy Names University (HNU) education students are seeking support from local leaders and members of the public to push the HNU Board of Trustees to honor its commitment to use a still existing $55 million endowment to pay tuition for its education students who are now at other teacher training institutions after the university closed and abandoned them.

HNU trustees still administer the affairs of the university, though they closed the school in Spring 2023 and sold the campus to private real estate developers. Many of HNU’s former education students currently teach in public, charter, and private school classrooms around the Bay Area while struggling to pay the high expenses of finishing their teaching credentials, often at the cost of over $1,300 a unit.

About 90 former HNU education students signed a letter to Attorney General Rob Bonta, asking the institution’s trustees to use the $55 million endowment for its intended purpose, which was left to the university as part of an estate to support training for new East Bay teachers.

The HNU Board responded in an email to the issues raised in this article, saying that they were operating within the court-ordered requirements, which leave them with no discretion.

Though $50 million of the endowment is still tied up in probate court, approximately $5 million has been disbursed to provide scholarships to help students who need financial support. Some students have received a little money, but while the HNU trustees had pledged in probate court to reach out to all former students about the availability of scholarships, that has not happened, and the scholarship amounts have been arbitrary and partial, according to students.

“We’ve been reaching out to let people know how to apply,” said members of the student group. “The Attorney General informed us that they (the HNU trustees) said they were going to contact everyone, but that never happened. No one from the School of Education, who this money was intended for, has heard from them.”

When students originally enrolled in HNU, the university had promised that the Logan endowment would pay 50% of their tuition. Yet the HNU Board, led by chair Steven Borg, now is distributing varying amounts, generally not over $3,000, which does not pay for a single three-unit class.

Some students are taking three units per semester, while others are taking 12 units and received the same amount of money.  Those who have received scholarships, report that the money was not issued in a timely way.  Many students are graduating this semester after having paid out of pocket, and no retroactive funds are being distributed.

Scholarships must be issued promptly because students cannot graduate if they have an outstanding overdue balance, and much of the money students received was “not based on anything solid, not based on units they were taking,” said another student.

In interviews with the Oakland Post, some former HNU students, all of whom take classes at the University of San Francisco while teaching in K-12 classrooms, discussed some obstacles they have faced since HNU closed.

Adrianna Castaing, who teaches first grade at a private school in the East Bay, said she attended HNU since 2017, completing her undergraduate degree and then entered the teacher training graduate program.

Though she received no money for fall semester, she said she did receive a small amount after “little to no communication from HNU,” but the amount was not in any way equal to the amount she had to pay for her coursework, which she expects to complete this semester,

Donna McClinto, who teaches elementary school in Oakland, said she was denied any money because HNU said she still owed HNU, though she had never heard that before, and because she was not enrolled in classes at HNU toward the end, when the school stopped offering classes that she needed.  One of her classmates in the same situation did receive funding.  There is no clear formula for distribution and students feel that the amounts are arbitrary.

Alice Thiuri, who teaches high school at a private school in Oakland, said she received $3,000 which did not cover her tuition. “I requested a little more, but they said no, though I gave them receipts for five classes I took.”  They said the scholarship amount was not based on her expenses, but when she expected to graduate. She said she was told that the amount she received was determined by the Attorney General.

Kassandra Solano, an elementary teacher in Oakland who started at HNU in 2018, had completed all the classes for her masters’ degree except for one or two. “I reached out for counseling, advising, but heard nothing.  They kept changing advisors. I never found out what other class I needed to take,” she said.

“I reached out for a scholarship but was told I didn’t qualify because I wasn’t registered for classes,” she said. “HNU changed advisors three times, and there was never an answer from any of those advisors,” she continued. “I was very upset.”

HNU failed to create a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with any school of education, so that students could transfer, though the trustees had promised to do so.

“Every student was left to fend for themselves,” said Dr. Nirali Jani, a former education professor at HNU who is currently teaching at the University of San Francisco.

Many of the students emphasized that the closing of HNU and failure to maintain the scholarships only exacerbates the teacher shortage that is hitting Oakland and other districts across the state and country.

In response to this article, Bernard D. Bollinger of HBU wrote:

“The terms for the distribution of Logan Fund Scholarships for transfer students are delineated in … (an) order of the Superior Court (a public record).  Paragraph 1 … permits scholarships to be provided to ‘students who were enrolled at Holy Names University during the 2022-2023,’ (if) they continue to meet academic performance requirements of the Logan Fund gift instrument.

“It does not require that the scholarship recipients attend a school of education.  Distributions from the Logan Scholarship are specifically limited to the provisions delineated in court orders and the terms of the gift agreement, so neither HNU (nor any other party) has discretion on how to award those funds.

“As a result, HNU did not focus on getting MOUs with ‘schools of education’ but with schools that HNU believed to be attracting large numbers of transferred students from HNU in order to assist as many students as possible.

“The list of 11 schools that HNU has entered into an MOU with (including USF) can  be found on HNU’s website (at)

“That section of the HNU website has a list of several resources for former students including under Financial FAQs.  At the question ‘Is my HNU scholarship still available?’ students can provide information and get in contact with HNU representatives via that link that is provided there in addition to readily available information on the HNU website.

“Student outreach was significant, with multiple emails and paper letters to former students.”

The student group will hold an information session for former HNU education students on how to apply for scholarships and to complete their teacher training programs Saturday, April 27, 3 -5:30 p.m. at Wild Child Schoolhouse, 160 41st St. in Oakland.

A happy hour will follow at Cato’s Ale House, 3891 Piedmont Ave. in Oakland.

For more information, email

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