Play 4 SAY 2020 Congratulations and Thank You!

We LOVE ❤❤❤ our Play4SAY 2020 sponsors!! And all 125+ virtual event participants!!

Enormous thanks from all of us at SAY San Diego, and the community we serve, for your generous support.

And, BIG CONGRATULATIONS to our top trivia champs!

1. Aldrich Advisors,

2. PwC San Diego and

3. 40 Acres and a Mind – Sylvan Learning Center of La Mesa


SAY San Diego is partnering with Live Well San Diego to join with our community in raising awareness about mental health. We encourage our SAY members to join in VIRTUALLY on October 8th for Check Your Mood 2020. You can get FREE mental health resources and take an online self-assessment. Getting screened is a vital part of any healthcare checkup and matters just as much as a physical one! Here are the ways you can participate with us: 

1) Save the Date in Your Calendar! 

2) Share the flyer below with your friends, families, or coworkers! 

3) Connect with us on social media and like, repost and share content we will be uploading leading up to October 8th! 

4) Join SAY staff, volunteers and community members on October 8th as we complete the self-administered screenings! 

2020-CYM-flyer-Span 2020-CYM-flyer-Eng

Enroll Now! School age, preschool and infant care available!

Part time and full day enrollment is underway at SAY San Diego!  Dingeman site (school age) in the Scripps Ranch area and at the Early Childhood Center (infant/preschool) in Kearny Mesa are ready to welcome your children.

See program and registration info below.  Email us at with questions or for further assistance.

Have a school age kiddo?  Dingeman is ready!  With two separate program offerings per day, children may sign up for one or both. With the new health and safe protocols in place, space is limited, so register today!   Check out more information, pricing and registration HERE.

  • Dingeman Location: 11838 Scripps Creek Dr., San Diego, CA 92131
  • AM Session- 7:30am-3:00pm Includes individual distance learning student support, enrichment activities and healthy snacks.  Students will need to bring their personal device, class schedule and bag lunch for the day.  Students will be required to wear a mask during program participation.
  • PM Session- 3:00pm-6:00pm Includes small group enrichment activities such as outdoor games and fitness, arts and crafts, social-emotional engagements and more.  A PM snack will be included. All students will be required to wear a mask during program participation.

Have an infant or preschooler? The Early Childhood Center (ECC) reopening is now planned for October 1st, 2020.  Open Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 with an extended day option until 6pm if needed for children 2 years old to 5 years old. The Center also offers 2,3, or 5-day options. The infant room hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. only for children 6 weeks old to 24 months.  Flex fees available and alternative payment options accepted.  Check out more information, pricing and registration HERE.

  • ECC Location: 4775 Viewridge Avenue, San Diego, CA 92123
  • This nurturing and responsive center, in addition to more outdoor learning, now also includes enhanced sanitation practices, physical distancing guidelines, hygiene, and screening practices.


Join Us as we Celebrate San Diego’s Graduating Seniors!


Class of 2020’s High School seniors won’t be able to walk the stage, shake hands with the Principal, or celebrate with their friends this year. During this time of social isolation, it’s important to show up for our youth, let them know we are proud of their accomplishments, and mark this important milestone.

Join SAY San Diego in making this a Memorable Graduation! We have 3 days and 3 ways to celebrate! Use the hashtag #LIGHTOURWAY2020 on social media so seniors can see your post!

Monday June 8 – Spotlight on Seniors

Post a photo of your graduate online, along with a message of congratulations. Create and post a yard or window sign in their honor.

Tuesday June 9 – Celebrate

Make and post a short video describing how you are celebrating your graduate on their big day. String lights on porches and balconies and in windows, create a sidewalk chalk art message, organize a drive through graduation celebration.

Wednesday June 10 – Inspire

Post a short inspirational message to graduates, or in a short video, share a life lesson that will guide them into adulthood.

English Version

Versión en español 

SAY San Diego Recommits to Undoing Racism

Today, SAY San Diego joins with his family, friends and community—nationwide and right here in San Diego—to grieve the senseless, unjust death of George Floyd at the hands of police. We are in pain. We are also at a pivotal moment. George Floyd’s killing underscores racial injustice that takes an ugly toll daily across our nation. It places a bright spotlight on the immoral legacy of ongoing racial hatred and systemic racism where systems fail to protect and serve all people of color, and most acutely Black and Latinx people.

Today we say their names because this moment demands real change and real action: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, Sandra Bland, and far too many more.

The key question of this moment for SAY San Diego as an organization whose mission is to heal, to advocate and to lift every voice, is what will we do?  All of us have a role. Now more than ever SAY San Diego as an organization and each of us as individuals recommit to doing more and redoubling our focus on undoing racially unjust and harmful policies. We will re-examine our own institutional norms, biases, privileges and practices to ensure that we are anti-racist and undoing racism.

SAY San Diego’s board, staff, program participants, partners and communities will continue to create the vision we hold, but have not yet achieved, of opportunity, equity and well-being for all.  SAY San Diego joins with all who seek to bring people together by acknowledging racial divides, seeking to understand root causes of racism and oppression, listening more deeply, and recommitting to solutions that heal and produce durable, positive change.

With our thanks,

Nancy Gannon Hornberger, SAY San Diego President & CEO
LaDreda Lewis, SAY San Diego Board Chair

SAY San Diego awarded $50,000 grant from The San Diego Foundation

SAY San Diego is the grateful recipient of a $50,000 grant from the COVID-19 Community Response Fund at The San Diego Foundation, for our Bridges to Success program to support individuals and families severely impacted by the current pandemic. This critical funding will allow SAY to help families from spiraling into irrecoverable crisis related to shelter and basic needs.  Bridges to Success addresses potentially catastrophic challenges from unexpected job loss and other unforeseen issues that impact a family’s ability to pay for full rent, utilities, medical/dental, baby items, education-related needs, transportation, or food and other basic needs.

Nancy Gannon Hornberger, CEO of SAY San Diego expressed her appreciation, stating,

“SAY San Diego is deeply grateful to our partners at The San Diego Foundation, for bringing hope and needed care to youth, families and community. This timely, critical support enables us to meet urgent needs at this unusually difficult time. Together, we are moving forward.”

About the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund

The San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund at The San Diego Foundation was created in partnership with San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, San Diego Gas & Electric, United Way of San Diego County, San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council, NEWS 8 and Alliance Healthcare Foundation to receive donations and make rolling rapid response grants to nonprofit organizations supporting impacted communities, particularly those that are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic and its economic consequences. Grants focus on food security; other essential living expenses; emergent needs such as closing the digital divide; and rent and utility payment support. Thousands of individuals, businesses and foundations have contributed to the Fund, and 100 percent of donations are provided to nonprofits. Learn more at

SAY San Diego awarded $35,000 grant from The San Diego Women’s Foundation to help refugees, asylees, and asylum-seekers in City Heights

This grant will support the New Arrivals Support Program (NASP) that operates from SAY San Diego’s Crawford Community Connection (CCC) school-based family resource center in City Heights. The program “bridges the gap between a refugee, asylum seeker or asylee’s arrival to the U.S. and a point of self-sufficiency and stability,” explains NASP Director, Lucia Acevedo Gonzales.  This critical support from The San Diego Women’s Foundation will allow for expanded services such as individualized case management, connections to social services, events that promote cultural inclusion, and tangible resources that foster successful transitions to education and employment.

Nancy Gannon Hornberger, CEO of SAY San Diego views this award as timely and meaningful. “SAY San Diego is incredibly grateful and inspired by the women of the San Diego Women’s Foundation for their essential support of the refugee, asylee and newcomer community,” she states, adding that the foundation’s support is “so important every day, but especially in these critical moments.”


SAY’s Crawford Community Connection

Hope for Junior

“I don’t want to add color,” eight-year old Junior explained when he turned in his holiday sheet a few weeks ago.

His drawing stood out because of its bleakness. The other children had drawn candy canes, presents, Santa, and Christmas trees—all brimming with colors reflective of the extra joy you typically see in kids this time of year.

The SAY teacher immediately knew not to push Junior to add anything and instead asked him to explain what the drawing meant to him.

“It’s what our living room used to look like a year ago . . . before everything changed. I wish we could have it back to the way it was” Junior said, trying to smile through his sadness.

It has been a rough year for Junior. This boy’s world changed rapidly in a matter of months because of the long-term illness of his teen sister, who had died just before Thanksgiving. This holiday season, there are painful reminders at every turn for Junior and his younger brother that their sister is gone. His mother puts on a brave face at home, wrapping her sons in as much love and cheer as she can. She is a single parent with a stable job at a local auto-parts store, but beyond the emotional devastation that the loss of a child brings, the medical bills and funeral expenses were more than she could handle. Soon, she could not cover the rent and they became homeless overnight.

Christmas was never extravagant for Junior and his family, but his mother had always managed to make the holidays joyful for her kids. This year, there is no secret wrapping of presents or holiday drawings on refrigerators. The living room that usually had a small tree and coffee table adorned with a modest array of decorations was now a distant memory. For the past few months, Junior, his younger brother, and mother have been sleeping on the living room floor of family friend.

Fortunately, Junior’s mother came to the attention of the school principal and SAY teacher, and we were able to help with some emergency assistance and referrals so that critical needs were met for food and clothing. SAY is also assisting with grant funds to help cover other basic expenses so that Junior’s mother can reach her goal to set aside part of each paycheck to cover the first month’s rent for her own apartment again. Some surprise gifts will also find their way to Junior and his family this week thanks to generous SAY Holiday Hopes donors.

SAY helps thousands of children like Junior every day. Whether it’s a gift for the holidays or support for our work throughout the year, your donations ensure that kids like Junior are not facing tragedy and challenges alone.

If you have already made a recent contribution to SAY San Diego, thank you very much again for making a difference. If you know of others who might want to help this holiday season and beyond, please share this story.

SPECIAL OPPORTUNITY to grow your gift now through January 26, 2020:

CLICK HERE to support critical SAY programs through Champions for Youth. Farmers Insurance will add funds to every dollar of your gift to SAY!


2019 Community Mentor Summit

By SAY staff Jacinda Abcarian

It’s not every day that you walk into a convention center and see former gang members greeting police officers with hugs, and teens on probation networking with prosecutors. Welcome to the Community Mentor Summit, where people from all walks of life come together to show their commitment to a new way of tackling juvenile delinquency in San Diego, California.

This annual 2-day event took place October 16 – 17, 2019, and highlighted the legitimacy of the “credible messenger” model which San Diego has recently adopted as a best practice for working with youth who have come to the attention of law enforcement. This model allows those with real life experience in the criminal justice system to serve as inspirational mentors to youth on probation.

SAY San Diego, through a grant from the County of San Diego’s Probation Department, is currently working with credible messengers including  Arthur Soriano of Youth Empowerment and Reginald Washington of Project AWARE to bring hope, life skills, and emotional literacy to San Diego youth who are system-involved. Soriano and Washington were featured speakers at the Community Mentor Summit.

A heartfelt Soriano looked into the audience and stated, “I’m here to support the community that I once destroyed.” Raised in City Heights, Soriano fell into the pitfalls of drugs, gangs, juvenile hall, and ultimately 23 years in prison. Since his release just 6 years ago, Soriano has made impressive strides in improving relations between his community and the various systems he was in. He is now recognized by law enforcement, probation, juvenile judges, principals, and non-profit organizations as an advocate for community change and example of life transformation.

Reginald Washington

Reginald Washington of Project AWARE also spoke to the power of lived experience when mentoring youth who have been in and out of juvenile hall. “What’s incredible is the fact that these mentors have been able to overcome hard times and are still be able to speak and reach these individuals in the streets. It does mean something when you have been there, and you can actually speak about it.” As a young man, Washington was involved in gangs without any awareness of alternative ways to deal with his anger. One night he got in an altercation and shot someone. This resulted in a 15-year prison sentence that would forever change his life. Washington is now a leader in the credible messenger movement and recognized by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and Probation Department for his contributions with their Youth Academy and promoting public safety.

According to Washington, youth need to see that success is not all about money and street cred – it is about changing your life and having peace of mind. And who better to deliver that message than someone who has been there? Washington said, “I like to show the youth, ‘this is what it looks like when you are successful. You could be at your lowest point in life, you could be entrenched in gangs, but this is what it looks like when you are really successful.’”

To the mixed audience of teens, social service providers, and youth advocates, San Diego’s elected officials also addressed the trailblazing work happening in in the county. County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar stated: “After decades of punishment and incarceration, our probation department took a long hard look at what it takes to keep kids out of juvenile hall and safely in their communities. This new community-based approach has developed through strong partnerships with our District Attorney Summer Stephan, our Probation Department Chief Gonzales, our Public Defender Randy Mise, our juvenile courts, various law enforcement agencies, and our community partners.”

Kristin Gaspar, Summer Stephan, Arthur Soriano and daughter, Nick Macchione (photo courtesy of A. Soriano)

“This new community-based approach … is a level of collaboration that has never been done before – not here in San Diego, not in the state of California, not anywhere across the country – we have a lot to be proud of.”– County Supervisor, Kristin Gaspar

San Diego has committed to making a difference in the lives of teens and young adults by launching several initiatives to improve criminal justice processes and reduce recidivism.

District Attorney Summer Stephan spoke passionately about her commitment to creating a climate of justice for all San Diegans, including those who have been in the system. “We want to give 2nd and 3rd chances, and we want to do it with accountability to the community we serve. We’ve done this by removing 1,500 marijuana felony convictions, without somebody asking us to. We did

it on our own because that’s what the law provides. We do this by offering expungement clinics. I was one of only two prosecutors in the state to support Assembly-member Ting’s bill that automatically expunges records of people that are entitled to that expungement. But we expect people to be lawyers and apply to get the collateral consequences removed that they are entitled to under the law! Being able to have our system do it automatically is the right way to do it.” These statements drew wide applause as Stephan went on to reiterate that community mentorship is critical to transforming lives. From her years serving women and children in the area of human trafficking, Stephan saw firsthand that victims were more likely to listen to those who had experienced similar struggles. “We know that when someone with lived experience displays the empathy of having walked in that person’s shoes, it makes a tremendous difference. And it makes a difference because they can see a path. They can see ‘this person had my journey and now has arrived to this other side, and they are the leaders.’”

“We need to work with community mentors – they are bringing their talents, their gifts, their energy, their dedication, and their commitment to making our communities as flourishing and as healthy as possible.  We came to realize that we don’t need to, nor can we, do this alone.” Jason Rasch, Supervising Probation Officer

The importance of preserving hope among young people was a strong theme that shaped the summit. Nick Macchione, Director of the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, came to show his support for community mentorship by telling a story from his childhood. “You see, I was one of those youth. By the graces of God, I didn’t end up in my juvenile detention facility in West New York and New Jersey where I grew up. But as an immigrant kid, a latch-key kid living above a liquor store in an urban area, I was probably one stone’s throw away from the juvenile delinquency card that

Planning Committee Top Row Left to Right: Marquitta Barnes (Project Aware), Erica Palmer (SAY San Diego), Arturo Soriano (Youth Empowerment), Joshlyn Turner (The Write Juice) Rashida Hameed (Epiphany Women In Focus), Leticia Bombadier (Youth Empowerment & Transformative Centered Solutions), Jason Druxman (San Diego County Probation Department); Shlyn Guarian, MSW (HHSA, Central Region); Robert Ontiveros (iPayLo); Dana Brown (Youth Voice & Learn4Life) Bottom Row Left to Right: Pastor Jesus Sandoval (Commission on Gang Prevention & Intervention), Jason Rasch (San Diego County Probation Department) Reginald Washington (Project A.W.A.R.E.); Daniel Orth (Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, USD)

most of my buddies got – it’s because I had Big John. John was a retired veteran that worked in the liquor store, and he would talk to me every day afterschool, about music, about life, and he’d let me dust the bottles with the feathers…he was always there for me. Although we did not call it community mentoring at the time, Big John was just that. I was fortunate.”

The Community Mentor Summit provided a safe space for a diverse group of stakeholders to delve into San Diego’s complex issues related to juvenile delinquency, the criminal justice system, and new approaches to improving community wellness. It was a platform for young people and police officers alike to share their perspectives on why community mentoring matters.





To learn more about SAY San Diego’s Community Mentoring Program, visit:

To learn more about SAY San Diego’s Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Development Programs, visit:


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