CSUEB President Leroy Morishita greets a local family at the Hayward Promise Neighborhood Community Festival Oct. 27. See more photos in our gallery. (Photos: Alex Lopez)
Energy and excitement filled the air when the Hayward Promise Neighborhood Community Festival officially launched the multi-year initiative to benefit South Hayward schools, students and families in the Jackson Triangle.
Approximately 1,300 attendees passed through the balloon arch entryways to Hayward’s Harder Elementary School, where representatives from regional schools, government agencies, health care organizations, non-profit and faith-based groups and local businesses gathered to share the resources they are offering to residents in the Promise Neighborhood.
The Hayward Promise Neighborhood (HPN) partnership is funded by a $25 million, five-year federal grant to improve social, educational and health support services in the South Hayward region. California State University, East Bay and partners from the HPN Implementation Team planned the Oct. 27 event as the official introduction for community families and HPN partners. (Read more at haywardpromise.org.)
CSUEB President Leroy Morishita said “This is such a wonderful opportunity to meet with so many people from our community, not just the parents and students but also the regional partners who have been instrumental in the early stages of this partnership. With all of us working together over the next five years, the Promise Neighborhood will be tremendously successful.”
More than 35 community groups took part in the information fair, set up under color-coded balloons — yellow for preschool resources, purple clusters for K-12 information, and green for the college-level programs. The information booths set up along the perimeter fence shared the schoolyard with tables for activities and crafts, inflatable basketball hoops, a jump house and contests and dance lines led by performers from Radio Disney.
CSUEB students from the Department of Hospitality, Recreation and Tourism manned the craft tables and entryways with other university volunteers, joined by faculty, staff and students from criminal justice, nursing, the Community Counseling Center, Pioneer Athletics, the Early Action Program and the Welcome Center, among others.
Carolyn Nelson, Dean of CSUEB’s College of Education and Allied Studies and the Principal Investigator of the HPN grant, said she was very pleased with the turnout.
“Everyone is here today because they know how important it is to support children and families, and that working together is the best way to make a difference,” she said. “This event really showcases the depth and breadth of services we can bring to this community in a dynamic and fun way, which is so important to encourage engagement.”
At the noontime ceremony marking the official launch of the Promise Neighborhood, Morishita and Nelson introduced representatives from the partnership, including Hayward Mayor Michael Sweeney; Harder Elementary Principal Hector Garcia; Susan Sperling, president of Chabot College; Hayward Unified School District Superintendent Donald Evans; Jesús Armas, president of the HUSD school board; Dennis Waespi, president of the Hayward Area Recreation and Parks District; and members of the Hayward City Council and other elected officials.
Mayor Sweeney, already on his third event of the day, after a morning cleanup with Keep Hayward Clean and Green and a Halloween costume contest, lauded the beginning of a commitment from CSUEB, Chabot, HUSD, businesses “and most importantly, parents, to come together to help our young people succeed.”
Over the five-year partnership, Sweeney said he’d like to see Hayward’s students “performing at a higher level academically, and more stability at schools… with families staying for the quality of education.”
Morishita presented Garcia with a flag bearing the CSUEB University seal to fly on the elementary school grounds. The gift represents the strengthening partnerships in the community and the fact that “we are all working to the common goal of having college ready kids,” Garcia noted.
Garcia also had a gift for Morishita — a collection of letters and drawings from Harder students thanking CSUEB volunteers for their work beautifying and cleaning the campus earlier in October in honor of Morishita’s investiture as president. (Read more about the University's day of service at Harder.)
Joining Morishita, Sweeney, Sperling, Armas and Waespi, Hayward city council members Mark Salinas, Greg Jones and Marvin Peixoto and school board trustee William McGee took hold of large red scissors to cut a white ribbon, symbolizing the opening of HPN services to the community.
After the ceremony, Armas walked the grounds with another school board trustee, Maribel Heredia, passing by the Chabot College nursing table where Armas had his blood pressure checked by Chabot student Kristen Butler.
“I’m very happy with the collaboration,” Heredia said, “and with the wraparound services we can make available.”
Claire Pendleton, a third grade teacher at Harder and a CSUEB graduate, said she particularly enjoyed seeing the community partners on the Harder campus and hopes they’ll continue to have a strong presence in the coming years. As a member of the leadership team at Harder, Pendleton also will help shape the HPN services for her students. Increasing technology resources and training is a priority for her, as she sees many students coming in with limited understanding of how technology can assist learning.
“They may know how to play a video game, but not how to use the computer for anything useful,” she explained.
Hayward area parent Lucy passed by Harder Elementary with her son Ayden on their way home Saturday morning and decided to stop to see what was going on. “It’s really great to bring the community together like this,” she said, and was interested in learning more about the services that HPN partners would make available for Ayden and her other school-aged child.
First grader Ayden, who was decorating a mini pumpkin with beads and plastic eyeballs, attends HUSD’s East Avenue Elementary School, and would advance to Hayward High School — another of the schools served by the HPN. The continuum of services promoted by HPN partners will help students like Ayden prepare for college and a career and ensure that the family has the resources to support him academically and socially throughout school.
"Students who are supported by families and schools as well as their entire community, through programs like the Promise Neighborhood, are better positioned for lifelong learning and success," said Morishita. "Their achievements will be felt throughout the East Bay region."