Placemaking is a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces. Put simply, it involves looking at, listening to, and asking questions of the people who live, work and play in a particular space, to discover their needs and aspirations. This information is then used to create a common vision for that place. The vision can evolve quickly into an implementation strategy, beginning with small-scale, do-able improvements that can immediately bring benefits to public spaces and the people who use them.
Placemaking capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspiration, and potential, ultimately creating good public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well being. When we asked visitors to pps.org what Placemaking means to them, responses suggested that this process is essential–even sacred–to people who truly care about the places in their lives.
Please join us for the Placingmaking Breakfast to help fund this great event.
Photo Courtesy Of Los Altos Community Foundation and Hank Drew
The MVLA Community Scholars volunteer group awarded scholarships to 16 students this year.
For many in the local community, a family’s income barely covers the necessities of food and rent. Teens from such families could easily give up on college before a single application is mailed, sometimes years before that.
Mountain View Los Altos Community Scholars and other local groups are working to change this scenario. They offer support to students for whom the college selection process is more a matter of finances than grades.
MVLA Community Scholars is a volunteer group committed to the ideal of significant social change through higher education. The group provides college scholarships and one-on-one mentoring and works with chronically underserved youth at Mountain View, Los Altos and Alta Vista high schools. It awards annual scholarships to those applicants who best demonstrate academic preparedness and performance, financial need, ingenuity and initiative, and an ability to persevere and overcome adversity.
“Getting an education is potentially going to change everything for these students. The mentors plus scholarships will give them their best opportunity (to get a college degree),” said Janet Tornow, member of the MVLA Community Scholars board.
“The students, they don’t have parents or family who have been to college,” said Dee Gibson, board president. “Their parents are not able to give them the advice and guidance we might have gotten. They are now having an opportunity not only to go to college, but to have the benefit of a mentor in the same area of interest … to guide them through their college years.”
This year, MVLA Community Scholars selected 16 students out of 52 applicants to receive awards. The scholarship recipients’ academic performance is higher than in previous years, with an average GPA of 3.5, and 81 percent are the first in their families to attend college. Annual family income of the recipients is $24,000, lower than in previous years.
The recipients were also involved in leadership roles: Aaron Lim is a varsity water polo captain; Tiffany Wouten is a varsity softball/basketball captain; Katherine Pantangco is a school newspaper editor-in-chief; Gen Thenuwara is a yearbook editor; Carlos Marquez is a varsity football captain; Bryan Medina is a marching band section leader; Heidi Hernandez Montes is president of the Almond Tutoring Club; Rashmeen Kaur is president of Poetry Slam Club; Ben Macedo is a Main Street Singer; Casandra Magana Garcia is president of the Latino Movement Club; and Catherine Witcher is president of the Black Student Union.
Some, like Pantangco, who won the Princeton University Prize in Race Relations for Northern California, have devoted their time to raising social consciousness on important issues. She has supported acts and projects designed to improve race relations and racial justice. Valeria Dominguez donates her time to counselors in Chat 4 Teens, a crisis intervention group that handles some tough issues. Her volunteerism helped her realize she would like to be a counselor in the future.
All awardees have academic dreams. Season Yang speaks with passion about studying computer science at UC Davis. Marquez, who, since he was 7 years old has devoted more time caring for his autistic brother than playing with friends, is now looking forward to attending Cal Poly Pomona and working toward a degree in computer science. Nova Rivera has her sights set on Santa Clara University to study political science. Melissa Gomez has a passion for psychology, which she plans to study at Chapman University.
Recipient Gabriela Maas worked hard during high school balancing a nearly full-time job and maintaining good grades. Maas will study to become a nurse or a doctor.
Thenuwara admits he initially didn’t like studying English. He credits his mentor, Tommy Mouton, with encouraging him to develop a talent in creative writing, a gift that nearly went unrecognized. English is Thenuwara’s second language.
According to Mouton, a teacher and creative writer himself, “Gen has an authentic voice, and what he does with the English language is remarkable. His poems have depth.”
The scholarship recipients were honored May 4 at the Neutra House in Los Altos with a reception attended by parents, mentors and MVLA Community Scholar volunteers.
Gibson said the most rewarding part of her role in MVLA Community Scholars is the opportunity to change a life.
MVLA Community Scholars is a program of the Los Altos Community Foundation, which monitors its activities. Private donors and grants fund the program.
Left to Right: Dennis Young, LACF Board Chairman; Ron Cooper, Challenge Team of Mountain View – Los Altos – Los Altos Hills; Fran Verlot, Rotary Club of Los Altos; Ginny Dolan, Community Health Awareness Council; Kay Payne, Los Altos Art Docents; Angela Richards, Festival of Lights Parade Association; Bob Galen, Kiwanis Club of Los Altos; Kathy Thibodeaux, Community School of Music and Arts; Danielle Maddox, Friends of the Library; and Liz Nyberg, Los Altos History Museum. Not able to attend was Duncan MacVicar of Community Services Agency.
Our community made the 9th Annual Johyn W. Gardner Community Building Awards a rousing success by selling out the event.
Attendees were treated to a buffet breakfast at the Fremont Hills Country Club and witty banter by LACF Board Chairman, Dennis Young.
Instructions are included with the above-linked application.
The Los Altos Community Foundation’s E3 Youth Philanthropy program seeks to educate, engage, and empower local youth to affect positive change in their local and world communities. The program is administered by a board of youth community members ranging from 8th grade to juniors in high school. They have the option of using their funds to make grants or initiate programs.