It’s hard to believe that this is our second year-end newsletter — and we have so much to share! Just 22 months since its formation, the Robby Poblete Foundation has continued to forge new partnerships, expand its programs, participate in more community activities and, above all, make an impact. I am keenly aware that none of this could be possible without the incredible support we’ve received from people like you in our community — people who believe in our mission and understand that in order to make positive changes, we must each play a role in creating that change.
This is not always easy, as our first (almost) two years have taught me. But as is often said, nothing worth doing comes easy — and this is worth it. I believe we are not just changing lives, but we are saving them as well by creating career pathways for those who are in most need of support. This year we began collecting testimonies from those who have benefitted from our vocational program in an effort to improve our services and measure our impact. Here are just a couple comments we’ve received (due to privacy, we do not disclose names):
“This foundation gave me support to achieve independence.”
– 23-year-old female who was on the verge of being evicted. RPF provided her with a $3,500 scholarship to get training for her school bus license at Michael’s Transportation Services and she will soon graduate with a license to drive a bus.
“The foundation has helped me start a new chapter in my life. It gave me an opportunity I could not afford monetarily but have been wanting to do for a very long time. The future has become brighter because of this. Some of the burden I walked with every day has been lifted.”
– 49-year-old male who had limited opportunities due to his past convictions. Through the RPF scholarship, he was able to complete his training and is now working full-time earning more than $20 an hour.
Yes, 2018 has taught me what challenges we face, but testimonies such as these have shown me what our logo represents: Hope rises like a phoenix from the ashes.
Thank you to our Board of Directors and our small but mighty staff, which helps keep everything running as smoothly as possible. To our sponsors, partners and, of course, our funders, who enable us to do the work we do. To our many volunteers who make our events possible, and to all of you who attend them and continue to support us — thank you, thank you. We hope you take the time to look over the highlights of our year, knowing that by just “liking” us on social media, you have played a role in making it all happen. We look forward to working with you all to change and save lives in 2019!
Happiest of holidays and peace to all of you.
Executive Director, Robby Poblete Foundation
Photo credit: Jane Tyska, Bay Area Newspaper Group
The Difference We’ve Made
G un Buyback
Art of Peace
Work In Progress Vocational Program
GUN BUYBACK PROGRAM
For the second year in a row, RPF held gun buybacks in Solano County in partnership with the Eric Reyes Foundation and the Vallejo Police Department, and Richmond in partnership with the Richmond Police Department. We expanded the program this year and partnered with United Playaz on a San Francisco gun buyback, as well as with Future Successor and AmeriCorps VISTA in Augusta, Georgia, for their local buybacks. We implement a “no questions asked” policy at all buybacks; however, sometimes people tell us their stories willingly. At the 2018 Solano County Gun Buyback, one woman told us her brother suffers from schizophrenia. Her father found an assault rifle hidden in his room, which he had purchased from the Internet. Frightened of what his son was going to do with it, he took the weapon and planned to dispose of it by throwing it in a river. His daughter informed him of the gun buyback, and that is where it was surrendered. The assault rifle was the same type of weapon used to train SWAT teams.
Our Art of Peace program has attracted interest from artists and the media at the international level. Many of the participating artists have their own personal stories of how gun violence has impacted their lives, and have chosen our program as a way to channel their pain. Already, Art of Peace has grown from its epicenter in Vallejo, CA, to other Bay Area counties and even Augusta, GA. The inaugural exhibit was unveiled in Downtown Vallejo and attracted approximately 500 guests, and garnered dozens of artist proposals from around the world. RPF also offered private tours to students and participants of an inmate program to raise awareness about the impacts of gun violence.
Solano County (Vallejo)
Alameda County, in partnership with the Alameda County DA’s Office
San Francisco, in partnership with United Playaz
Total number of art pieces transformed from guns, to date: 27
We know that it’s not enough to get unwanted guns out of circulation. In an effort to reduce crime, our Work In Progress vocational program raises awareness about opportunities in the trades and provides scholarships for those who may not be able to afford the books, boots, tools and transportation to get training. We have partnered with the Napa Solano Central Labor Council, Napa Solano Building Trades, Solano County Workforce Development Board, Solano County Office of Education, Michael’s Transportation Services, and many others in the community and throughout the Bay Area to help create career pathways for those most at risk, including ex-offenders, students at alternative high schools, low-income and homeless populations, and foster youth facing emancipation.
In 2018, we awarded four commercial driving scholarships, of which two grantees are currently enrolled, two have graduated and obtained their commercial driving license, and one has been placed in a full-time job. We have also awarded four apprenticeship scholarships, enabling two beneficiaries to transition from homelessness.
Career Fairs and workshops:
Napa/Solano Hands-on Career Fair
Women Can Build Career Fair – Solano County
Women Can Build Career Fair – Hayward
Student Apprenticeship Bus Tour – Napa/Solano
OE3 Apprenticeship workshop for ex-offenders and homeless populations
Apprenticeship Awareness Day at John Finney High School
Total number of career fairs and workshops to date: 10
Among our proudest highlights of 2018 was Assemblymember Tim Grayson’s selection of the Robby Poblete Foundation as a 2018 California Nonprofit of the Year. We were honored to join him and his field representative, Jana Modena, at the Capitol to receive the award and join other awardees at an awards luncheon. More on why Assemblymember Grayson selected RPF here.
Grants:RPF was awarded its first multi-year grant from the California Wellness Foundation, as well as grants from Kaiser Community Foundation; Susie Buell Tompkins Fund of the Marin Community Foundation; and the Stewart Mott Foundation. RPF was also granted $70,000 worth of software and consulting services through NetSuite’s Social Impact program. More here.
Recognitions:RPF was recognized with the following awards this year:
2018 California Nonprofit of the Year (Assemblyman Tim Grayson)
2018 Community Workforce Champion (Solano County Workforce Development Board)
2018 Social Justice Advocacy Award (Touro University’s Lamplighters Awards)
2018 Community Service Recognition Award for Anti-Gun Violence (Filipino-American Chamber of Commerce of Solano County)
2018 Labor Activism Award (Napa Solano Central Labor Council)
New website:RPF unveiled its redesigned website, courtesy of Giographix Studios, with more features and interactive content.
Events: RPF was part of numerous events in 2018 – whether it was hosting, having a booth, volunteering or sponsoring. RPF events included:
Golf for Guns Tournament Fundraiser
Glo Run at the Vallejo Waterfront Weekend
Phoenix Rising: 2nd Annual RPF Fundraiser
Solano County Gun Buyback
Solano County Art of Peace Unveiling Ceremony and Exhibit
Buck Kamphausen drives one of his prized cars with RPF founding Board members Mike Jory, Levi Sumagaysay, and her daughter, Eva Farley, in tow at this years Mad Hatter’s Parade in Vallejo. RPF served as the grand marshal of the parade.
RPF staff member Jason Natividad stands under the finish line at this year’s Glo Run during Vallejo Waterfront Weekend. This year’s race was hosted by RPF for the second year in a row.
RPF Invited to King Center on 50th Anniversary of MLK Assassination
RPF Executive Director, Pati Navalta, is pictured with Dr. Bernice King, the youngest child of Dr. Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King, during a ceremony at the King Center commemorating the 50th anniversary of her father’s assassination. Together with RPF partner organizations, Lead 2 Life and Untied Playaz, guns were melted and turned into 50 shovels, then used to plant 50 trees around Atlanta.
Hundreds of people gather to see the unveiling of the inaugural Art of Peace exhibit at the Temple Art Lofts in Downtown Vallejo, during which mothers of gun violence victims participated in a healing ceremony.
Congressman Mike Thompson speaks with Vallejo Police Chief Andrew Bidou at the Solano County Gun Buyback.
New RPF Office in Downtown Vallejo
Thanks to supporter Buck Kamphausen, RPF now has an office located at 420 Virginia Street 1C in Downtown Vallejo. Mr. Kamphausen has donated the space to us, allowing us to meet with partners, potential scholarship grantees, and anyone wanting more information on our work.
Thank you, Buck, and thanks to the district offices of Congressman Mike Thompson, Assemblyman Tim Grayson, and Senator Bill Dodd, for welcoming us to the building and sharing your space.
Please come visit us!
Omnific Pictures Releases Short Film on Art of Peace
Omnific Pictures followed RPF for several months to gather testimonies, footage of gun buybacks, artists picking up their materials and working on their art, and finally, unveiling the final pieces for Art of Peace. The result is the short film seen below.
An officer with the Richmond Police Department takes inventory and records serial numbers during the Richmond Gun Buyback with RPF.
RPF and United Playaz hold a press conference with SF Mayor London Breed at the UP headquarters in SF to announce the SF buyback and Art of Peace SF.
As you can see, we’ve been busy, but we’re not slowing down. Here are some things we’re already working on for 2019:
Partnering with the Juvenile Detention Center in Fairfield, CA, to have art for our 2019 Solano County Art of Peace made by inmates who have been previously convicted of gun-related crimes.
Launching Art of Peace in Los Angeles in partnership with the International Rotary Club of Los Angeles.
Launching a gun buyback and Art of Peace in the City of Berkeley in partnership with City Councilwoman Cheryl Davila and the Berkeley Police Department.
Launching the Loli Poblete Apprenticeship Scholarship for Women,
Unveiling Art of Peace San Francisco with Mayor London Breed and United Playaz.
And much more…
Of course, our work can only continue with ongoing support. If you are interested in volunteering, please click here to learn more. You can also donate by clicking the button below. Anything helps!