Category Archives: Non-profits

UC Theatre project gets boost with $1.3M matching grant

The push to renovate the UC Theater got a huge boost in July when a major philanthropist made a $1.3 million matching grant. Photo: UC Theater
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One of the Bay Area’s biggest philanthropists has given a $1.3 million matching grant to spur completion of the renovation of the UC Theatre in Berkeley.

Tad Taube, who made his millions in real estate and through his connection to Joseph Koret, a women’s clothing manufacturer, announced this week that he will back the $5.6 million project, scheduled to be completed this fall.

“Music and the arts are gifts that should be accessible to everyone,” Taube said in a press release. “David Mayeri and his innovative team at the Berkeley Music Group have developed a contemporary vision for the UC Theatre that will both enrich our community and broaden youth engagement in the arts. Supporting this project presents an opportunity for our community to engage in an endeavor that will have a broad, diverse impact on music, culture, education and quality of life in our community.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley police hope bike registry will deter thieves

Wet bicycles at a rack in Berkeley. Photo: Marc Zuo
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Many cyclists in Berkeley know the all-too-common pain of losing a bike to thieves. Far fewer have experienced the opposite: the rare joy of a reunion. The Berkeley Police Department wants to change that, with the help of an independent bike registry called Bike Index.

The police department’s struggle with unregistered bikes manifests itself in the large number of bikes sitting in its property room. Without a police report on file that includes a serial number, it’s next to impossible to connect a stolen bike to its owner.

Many owners don’t bother to record the serial number before a theft, so finding a bicycle again is unlikely, especially if the stolen bike has crossed city lines. As a result, recovered bikes pile up in BART and police storerooms to be eventually auctioned off, donated or repurposed.

Other times, the bikes aren’t recovered at all. According to Sgt. Spencer Fomby, the supervisor of the Berkeley Police Community Services Bureau, there are instances when police stop a suspect and can’t determine whether a bike is stolen because its serial number hasn’t been recorded in the system the department uses for reports of stolen goods.

If the department can’t find a record, officers have begun turning to Bike Index, an independent bicycle registry that anyone can search by serial number.

“Bike Index can fill the gaps,” Fomby said. … Continue reading »

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Staffer at Berkeley’s Ecology Center faces deportation for two-decade-old felony conviction

Photo: Ecology Center
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Berkeley nonprofit employee Daniel Maher is being held in detention awaiting a possible deportation to China, where he lived for the first three years of his life, because of a felony conviction from more than two decades ago.

Maher, 41, is the recycling director of the Ecology Center, where he has worked for nearly ten years. He leads a recycling crew and teaches at-risk youth about recycling in the center’s Youth Environmental Academy.

“I have been ripped away from my family and loved ones,” Maher said in a statement read over the phone to Ecology Center Deputy Director Debbie Beyea. Although he was not born here, he said, “I feel as American as anybody else who has felt the satisfaction of contributing to it.” Maher cannot read, write or speak Chinese.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Community Fund awards record number of college scholarships to Berkeley students

Photo: Berkeley Community Fund
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Twenty-seven Berkeley High students who were awarded scholarships to college by the the Berkeley Community Fund (BCF) were honored at the Berkeley City Club on Monday, June 8.

The winners of the High Hopes Scholarships represent a wide range of ethnicities, family backgrounds, and academic interests. Most are first-generation college students, and many are immigrants. They will all receive $16,000 over four years in need-based scholarships and one-on-one mentorships.

The Berkeley Community Fund’s High Hopes Scholarship Program has supported low-income, high-achieving Berkeley High School students since 2008. This year marks the highest number of students ever to receive High Hopes scholarships, up from 23 last year. The students have already been accepted to a four-year college; BCF ensures that they can attend and succeed. Continue reading »

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Options Recovery expands to new offices in Berkeley

Drug and alcohol treatment organization Options Recovery Services will expand offices and clients into the Old Berkeley Annex. Photo: Options Recovery Services
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Options Recovery Services is set to expand to Berkeley’s Old City Hall annex space this month. The drug and alcohol treatment program is currently located on Center Street, and will retain that space while moving mostly administrative offices into the building at 1835 Allston Way.

The organization will hold an open house Thursday, June 18, from 4:30-7:30 p.m., where staff will acknowledge the supporters and donors who are helping to renovate the new space, as well as accept new donations.

The organization is still actively fundraising to meet a goal of $205,000 to pay for renovations that needed to be done to make the building safe. All the necessary safety improvements required before the move-in date have been made.
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Berkeley’s One World Play Project aims to empower young women through sports

In hot pursuit. Photo: One World Play Project
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One World Play Project, a Berkeley-based organization that sends indestructible soccer balls around the world, has launched an initiative that aims to empower young women through sports. Called #AllGirlsCanPlay, the campaign began on May 7, and its roll-out coincides with the women’s World Cup in Vancouver, which kicked off this week.

#AllGirlsCanPlay has been in the works for a while, but became a concrete idea in the fall of 2014, said Neill Duffy, whose title is “Chief Catalyst” for One World Play Project.

“We were looking for a trigger point,” Duffy said.

One World Play Project has used international soccer events to dovetail with its campaigns in the past. After working on the prototype “indestructable” ball for two years, the company launched during the 2010 men’s World Cup in South Africa and sent balls to São Paulo during the 2014 men’s World Cup in Brazil. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Public Schools Fund reaches $1M mark

The Berkeley Schools Fund provides over $1.5 million per year in grant funding for around 300 educators that affect over 10,000 students. Photo: Berkeley Schools Fund
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For the first time, the Berkeley Public Schools Fund has reached $1 million in annual fundraising, according to the organization.

The 32-year-old organization has collected over $13 million to date for the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD), providing classroom grants for approximately 300 teachers in the district each year that benefit over 10,000 students. Last school year, the Schools Fund provided over $750,000 in direct grants and program support to Berkeley schools. When the 1,500 volunteers the fund coordinates are included, total annual contributions amount to about $1.5 million per year in grants and in-kind donations, according to the fund.

Larger grants for collaborative projects are also allocated to educators, which according to the press release have inspired new programs to be adopted districtwide. In 2014, the Schools Fund also implemented a new grant program titled “Friends & Family Grants,” a crowdfunding site created by Blueprint, UC Berkeley’s student software club. The program offers educators an online platform to request classroom materials and generate funding for personal development workshops or class projects. … Continue reading »

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Artist Rich Black gives Berkeley’s UC Theatre a new mural

Rich Black mural 5/22/15 Photo: Melati Citrawireja
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Rich Black, the artist and muralist known for his high-impact art, has spent the last few days painting an eye-catching mural on the front of the UC Theatre at 2036 University Ave.

Black, who is probably best known for the murals adorning the front of the Ashby Theater (on Ashby and Martin Luther King Jr. Way), spelled out “SUPPORT” in huge yellow letters against a black background at the emerging UC Theatre. He interspersed the phrases “Employment,” Education,” and “Music” in between the letters.

Black is the creative force behind all the marketing material, programs and literature produced by Berkeley’s Shotgun Players who are based at Ashby Stage. (Watch a Berkeleyside video about Black made in 2011.) He paints the entire wall of the theater every time it puts on a new production — adapting a design he has devised to promote the play to fit the large expanse of the building’s façade. He is also the author of the flipbook, “Futura, L’Art d R. Black”
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Real estate

New Berkeley Humane shelter plans approved

Project renderings of the proposed Berkeley Humane building on Ninth Street. Image: Noll & Tam Architects
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Berkeley Humane won approval last week to construct a new facility on Ninth Street, and the organization is hoping to get the community involved to help make the project a reality.

The city’s Zoning Adjustments Board approved the permit for the new building May 14 to allow demolition of the agency’s existing facility and future construction of a new 2-story, 13,211-square-foot replacement building at the same location, 2700 Ninth St. in West Berkeley. The permit was approved on consent, and neither board members nor members of the public discussed the project during the meeting.

The approval comes five years after a deadly fire destroyed most of the existing building, killing 15 cats. Since reopening in 2011, the nonprofit — officially named the Berkeley East Bay Humane Society Inc. — has operated out of only a small portion of the salvaged building. … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Berkeley’s new donation boxes obfuscate underlying issues

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It’s no accident that the newly launched “Positive Change Donation Program”, a partnership of the Downtown Berkeley Association, Berkeley Food and Housing Project, and City of Berkeley, was introduced at the same time that new anti-homeless downtown measures were passed. Donation box programs are in vogue, with similar programs in Indianapolis, Denver, Pasadena, and Orlando, used as a karmic counter-balance when stricter anti-homeless enforcement is implemented. (And while Berkeley aggressively pursues legal enforcement of its own stricter anti-homeless measures, … Continue reading »

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Nonprofit accuses city of Berkeley of ‘unethical contracting practices’ for new homeless center

Berkeley's new approach to homeless services. Image: City of Berkeley
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The city of Berkeley says it will change its commission recommendation process after a community agency brought allegations of serious conflicts of interest during a recent bid for municipal funding.

Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS) raised these concerns in an April 16 letter to city officials after bidding to run a new one-stop homelessness services center for which the city plans to issue a contract next month.

Read more about homelessness in Berkeley.

BOSS and one other agency, the Berkeley Food and Housing Project (BFHP), put in bids in December to run the new center. Both service organizations are based in Berkeley, and have worked in the city since the early 1970s. BOSS requested $450,145 to run the center, and the BFHP requested $996,899 for the job. The city’s Homelessness Commission and city manager have recommended that the contract go to the BFHP, and council is slated to make its decision next month.

The commission report said only that the BOSS application did “not contain all of the necessary functions” required by the city in its request for proposals.

BOSS challenged the commission recommendation in April, saying two Homeless Commission members affiliated with the BFHP and another group, YEAH, should not have taken part in the discussions. BOSS wrote that their “organizations will gain financial resources as a result of their participation in the funding discussions and eventual funding recommendations” made by the commission and the city. … Continue reading »

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Non-profits

Bay Nature: Restitches our connection to natural world

DL@Pelicans&MtTam_Dec2013
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No matter how grand the “internet of things” becomes, all the digital wizardry in the world will never rival the unsurpassable majesty of nature.

Applied to the Bay Area, this global truth spears the soul four times a year as it arrives in the unassuming vehicle of the quarterly magazine Bay Nature.

Marking the 15th anniversary of a publication dedicated to the natural world of the San Francisco Bay Area, the magazine, whose offices are in Berkeley, has flowered into 53 consecutive editions, an informational website, “Bay Nature on the Air” videos, and free naturalist-led hikes.

At the helm of the independent nonprofit organization, Bay Nature Institute, sits publisher and editor David Loeb. Or rather, Loeb hikes, animal-watches, kayaks, cycles and otherwise explores water, land and sea while searching for the next story, the next gorgeous photograph. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley honors Eleanor Shapiro during final year of Jewish Music Festival

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Eleanor Shapiro still remembers the first time Klezmer music struck her soul.

It was 1996 and Shapiro was auditioning for a part in a dance troupe that planned to perform to a Klezmer piece. Shapiro was asked to sing “Ale Brider,” a traditional Yiddish folk song reinterpreted by the band, The Klezmatics.

When Shapiro heard the lilting, rhythmic melody inspired by the music coming from Eastern European shtetls, she was deeply moved.

“It was so clear it was speaking to my heart,” said Shapiro. “I felt like I had come home.”

Previously Shapiro had thought that the future of Jewish culture lay in Israel, where she had spent nine years, and the expansion of Hebrew. But her worldview shifted in that moment. She suddenly realized the power of Jewish music. That led her to volunteer for the Berkeley Jewish Music Festival, started in 1986 by Ursula Sherman, who had fled Nazi Germany with her family when she was a teenager. By 1998, Shapiro was co-director. In 2004, she became the sole director of the festival, now in its 30th year. … Continue reading »

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