San Diego County Public Defender Community Outreach Program

"Our mission is to connect with our partners in the community to enrich the lives of those less fortunate and assist in securing equal access to justice."

 

P R O F I L E S  

The Community Outreach Program wishes to highlight those in the community who truly make a difference. These people go above and beyond and act as leaders of our community to enrich the lives of those who are less fortunate. We are very proud of your accomplishments.


Christopher Yanov - Founder & Executive Director, Reality Changers
   

After working with gang members for five years, Reality Changers Founder Christopher Yanov felt that it was just not right that most inner-city teenagers today know more people who have been shot or killed in the street than people who are on the road to college.

As a response, Reality Changers began in May 2001 with four 8th grade students at the Hispanic Presbyterian Church near downtown San Diego with the hope of building first generation college students.

Starting with just $300 to its name, Reality Changers has given more scholarship awards to college-bound students than any other single organization in San Diego since 2005.

Reality Changers opened two more chapters in Solana Beach (2004) and in the San Diego neighborhood of City Heights (2006), with both new sites led by program graduates.

More recently, Reality Changers moved to a new headquarters in City Heights in April 2008 and became California's leading tutoring program for scholarships in June 2009.

Recenty named by San Diego Magazine as one of San Diego's new civic power prokers, Christopher raised and awarded over $1,000,000 in scholarships to inner-city students before turning 30 years old.

Mr. Yanov earned four college degress in just five years.  He graduated in two-and-a-half years from the University of California, San Diego with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Spanish Literature.  Mr. Yanov also completed two Master's programs at the University of San Diego with degrees in Peace & Justice and International Relations.

Most recently, Mr. Yanov was selected as an inaugural commissioner of the San Diego Commission of Gang Prevention and Intervention, is the chairman of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce's Education and Workforce Development Committee, and is putting the finishing touches on his book, "How to End Gang Violence in America."

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Heidi Lowe - Kliptown Youth Program

Kliptown Youth Program Kliptown Youth Program Kliptown Youth Program

Kliptown Youth ProgramWhere do I start?   How do I convey to you what I saw and felt when I visited Kliptown?  In the middle of a township that was poorer than any area I had ever visited in my life, there was this little cluster of mismatched buildings (a preschool, a prefab log cabin labeled "library", a small makeshift office and a huge cement slab) surrounded by literally hundreds of joyful, smiling kids. They were using small plastic laptops, eating snacks, reading books, learning new dances, playing sports. I cannot tell you how their joyful spirit in the midst of such poverty touched my heart.  They performed their gumboot dance for us, we painted some houses there, they cooked us a lunch.  When I left the area after a full day with these kids, I just knew I was going to find ways to help them when I got back home.

Ironically, Kliptown is itself of historical and cultural interest in the history of South Africa, as it was the place where the Freedom Charter was adopted in 1955.  Yet in the face of such hope, Kliptown is a community without most of the basic needs such as schools, health clinics, electricity, proper sanitation, etc. 

There are approximately forty four (44 000) thousand people living here.

Unemployment runs as high as 70%;

Teenage pregnancy about 60%;

HIV/AIDS infection 25%.

Kliptown Youth Program believes that if we identify and nurture talent amongst us, help to inculcate the culture of education, then we can create positive opportunities for ourselves.  In doing so, we believe we are creating a solution to poverty; one which we can stand up and show the world that we are a force to be reckoned with.  On a continent often wrought with victimhood and a mentality that everyone deserves a handout, KYP seeks to teach its children that they deserve that which they create."

In March of 2007 a small group of young people committed to making their part of the world a better place sat together in a small room to discuss how they could make a difference in their community.  They recognized that in order to better their circumstances, the youth of Kliptown needed, above all else, a good education, the confidence that they could improve themselves through hard work, and a community that would support them as they tried to reach their goals.

Now, two years later, KYP has almost 400 members, a thriving tutoring program, a 100% pass rate for last year's "matric" candidates, almost 300 XO laptops, a new library, healthy after school meals for its learners, an outstanding dance program, members beginning internships at South African companies, groups invited to Europe and America, and committed friends from all over the world who believe in the idea that Kliptown's youth can grow and thrive if provided with the opportunities and nurturing all parents seek to give their children.

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