Santa Clara County authorized $123 million for 1,000 affordable housing units. The funding approved by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday comes from a $950 million housing bond voters passed in 2016.
The allocation OK’d this week will pay for six new below-market-rate rental projects and three refurbished buildings in six cities: San Jose, Santa Clara, Milpitas, Cupertino, Gilroy and Morgan Hill. That brings the total number of units funded by Measure A to 1,921 to date, a third of its target of 4,800 affordable homes by 2026.
Some $94 million will fund 620 apartment units, some reserved for low-income residents and some for formerly homeless residents who require on-site support services. Another $29 million will rehab 484 apartment units. Every dollar of county money activates $2.78 in state and federal matching grants or private investment, officials say.
Supervisor Joe Simitian called the latest funding allocation “another significant milestone” in addressing the regional housing shortage and affordability crisis.
“Our efforts to create affordable and supportive housing is benefiting families, veterans, teachers, nurses, single parents, senior citizens, the disabled, foster youth, the homeless and individuals with special needs in our community,” he said in a news release issued hours after the vote Tuesday. “It’s not enough, but it’s real and tangible progress.”
Before Measure A, the county only had about 250 supportive housing units. Since 2015, the county, local nonprofits and cities have upped that number to 1,537—though only 151 are occupied so far. Another 586 are under construction and 800 are in the pipeline.
“These new projects are much more than just affordable housing,” Supervisor Ken Yeager said. “We’re helping some of our most vulnerable residents. Projects in midtown San Jose and Santa Clara will have significant numbers of apartments dedicated to those with special needs and to homeless seniors. These will save lives.”
Supervisor Cindy Chavez applauded the county for staying ahead of schedule on Measure A projects. “By sticking to our plan, we are keeping our word with voters,” she said.
On the eve of his swearing-in to a second two-year term as Milpitas mayor, Rich Tran is now expanding the scope of his political ambition.
The 33-year-old homegrown elected tells Fly he’s eyeing a 2020 run to succeed Santa Clara County’s District 3 Supervisor Dave Cortese, who’s in turn gearing up to replace state Sen. JimBeall (D-San Jose) when he terms out that year.
“I’m really thankful to have had the opportunity to be mayor of Milpitas and to have two terms to make a positive impact,” Tran says. “And I feel like my second term will be enough to put forth the work needed to help solve the challenges facing Milpitas.”
As a social worker for several years until leaving the job in January 2017, Tran said he has a deep appreciation for the safety-net role of the county, its public hospital system and its jails. He spent three years as a social worker at Valley Medical Center and served many of the county’s most vulnerable homeless residents. Now, he divides his time between city business and assignments for the Air National Guard.
“It’ll be a great challenge,” says Tran, who announced news of his run in a Facebook post earlier this week, “which is why I want to start this early.”
Although, if he doesn’t make it past the 2020 primary, Tran says, he could always try to run for a third mayoral term in his hometown. “We’ll see,” he muses, “we’ll see.”
It remains to be seen who Tran will go up against for Cortese’s seat. A few folks threw ex-San Jose vice mayor Rose Herrera’s name out there. Another former vice mayor—who’s now Silicon Valley Organization veep—Madison Nguyen, created campaign committees for both county supe and state Senate runs. (She recently told the Bay Area Reporter that she had no interest in Beall’s seat.)
Still, Beall’s departure is going to draw a pretty crowded field. In addition to Cortese, the list tentatively includes former Assemblywoman Nora Campos, Obama Federal Elections Commission appointee Ann Ravel, terming-out District 4 Supervisor Ken Yeager and San Jose Councilman Johnny Khamis, who reportedly has his sights set on both state Senate and on Supervisor Mike Wasserman’s South County seat.
As consumers around the country race to make last-minute purchases for their loved ones this holiday season, chances are they are considering a connected device or two to place under the tree next week.
But how can holiday shoppers be sure that the new connected device they’re eyeing was designed with the necessary privacy and security protections to keep their loved ones safe from digital attacks? How do they know it won’t invade the privacy of their friends and family or provide unwanted individuals with access to their home and devices?
Internet of Things (IoT) devices are a relatively new feature in the modern home, but according to a recent poll by Mozilla, consumers are already skeptical about the growing technology. The poll found that 35 percent of respondents were “wary and nervous” and 45 percent feared a “loss of privacy” about the connected future. Despite this, there are expected to be some 30 billion connected devices worldwide by 2020.
Leading tech companies build devices such as thermostats, cameras, children’s toys, and kitchen appliances with convenience in mind. But without proper privacy and security protocols built into these devices, the potential harm can severely outweigh the benefits.
Insecure devices pose risks for everyone’s privacy—and for the health of the internet generally—but there are those for whom it presents very real issues of physical, mental, and emotional safety. Victims of domestic abuse are one example. Protecting everyone from devices that could be misused against them is vital, and with the rapidly increasing popularity of “smart homes” and IoT devices, we have a lot of catching up to do.
The first step is education. The vast majority of people interested in buying a new internet-connected device have no way to evaluate privacy and security features, and there is very little expert guidance for consumers to turn to. Consumers must better understand the immense risks poorly-secured devices can pose by allowing outside access to devices in the home. That very problem is the driving impetus behind the Digital Standard, a testing framework spearheaded by ConsumerReports for evaluating IoT devices and mobile apps on these questions.
ConsumerReports has already begun including the outcomes from Digital Standard in their product reviews, which is working to close the knowledge gap for the average consumer wondering what features they should consider when purchasing smart devices. As consumers become better equipped to judge the security of the products they buy, the market should drive manufacturers to build more secure offerings as a differentiator.
As a completely open source project, the language of each test is open to the public—allowing consumers and others to implement the Digital Standard in their own reviews. While ConsumerReports will no doubt continue to provide high-quality, broadly applicable reviews based on the Standard, the fact that anyone can take the Standard and apply it themselves opens up real opportunities, particularly for those most at risk.
A similar project is Mozilla’s Minimum Security Guidelines — basic requirements we believe all connected devices should meet, like using encryption and featuring automatic security updates. This winter, Mozilla used these Guidelines to evaluate 70 popular connected products like smart watches and gaming consoles in our *Privacy Not Included gift guide. Only 32 products met the requirements.
Consumers should no longer accept the excuses from industry that they weren’t aware of the potential misuses of their products. Making accessible devices that are secure and private by default must be a priority for manufacturers, and consumers should be aware of the options that are best suited for their needs.
Through efforts like the Digital Standard and similar initiatives, we can help manufacturers produce devices that are more secure while providing a reference point that can be tailored to address the needs of all American consumers. IoT technology has the power to make our lives easier, better, and safer. Let’s work together to ensure those building today’s most innovative goods and services prioritize consumer safety.
Kevin Bankston is the director of New America’s Open Technology Institute and Ashley Boyd is vice president of advocacy and engagement at Mozilla, which is headquartered in Mountain View. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Send op-ed pitches to email@example.com.
The holidays are often filled with fun festivities—and lots of food! But for many Silicon Valley residents, the season serves as a stark reminder that they don’t earn enough to make ends meet in one of the most expensive places in the country. Hunger will take a seat at too many holiday tables this year.
Food access is a critical issue in our community—during the holidays and all year long. After 20 years in food-banking, I know all too well the toll hunger can take. That’s because nutritious food is the foundation for a healthy, productive life. We all need it to fully engage in our lives. It’s nearly impossible to function well without it.
Despite the enormous wealth in Silicon Valley, more people need our help than ever before. Every month an average of 260,000 of our neighbors receive food from Second Harvest. And the number keeps rising. It’s what we call the Silicon Valley hunger paradox. As the economy grows, so does the number of people who need food. The cost of housing has skyrocketed with the booming economy, while wages have remained relatively flat for many, leaving little left over for food.
Hunger is often hidden, even though it’s all around us. More than half of those we serve are kids and seniors. Many others are working hard, but still can’t afford to put food on the table. Some are college students trying to get ahead. The face of hunger is more familiar than you think. Many of the neighbors I meet at our food pantries are teaching assistants, retail clerks and healthcare workers—people we engage with every day.
The fact is everyone deserves access to the nutritious food they need to thrive, no matter who they are where they come from. Second Harvest is working hard to ensure that anyone in our community who needs a healthy meal can get one. We partner with more than 300 community-based organizations to distribute food at 985 sites in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. We’re also working with our partners to bring down the barriers that keep people from accessing food, including shame and fear.
Nobody should have to be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help.
Making sure everyone can eat is a huge job and we need the community’s support like never before. While the need continues to rise, donations to Second Harvest are down this holiday season. Because the economy is doing well, many in our community don’t realize so many of our neighbors need our help.
But they do. I hope you will consider giving to a local food-assistance organization this year. Silicon Valley is at the epicenter of technology and innovation, a place where dreams can become reality. We should all have the opportunity to pursue our dreams, and that starts with nutritious food.
Leslie Bacho is CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Send op-ed pitches to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hai Tran fled Vietnam by sea, going from fishing boat to merchant ship to a refugee outpost in Hong Kong before a sibling sponsored his immigration to the U.S. in 1980. His wife, Kim Ho, joined him in California after her own treacherous journey, giving birth to their first American-born child, Huy Tran, two years after their arrival.
Over the ensuing decades, the family earned a keep through landscaping, mending clothes and, eventually, its own nail salon. The war-scarred refugees laid the foundation for the younger Tran to attend San Jose State and Santa Clara University’s School of Law to pursue a career as an employment rights attorney in Silicon Valley.
Huy Tran said the U.S. welcomed his family and helped them thrive. They initially relied on public assistance to get a leg up, becoming one of a myriad immigrant successes woven into the tapestry of Bay Area life. But President Donald Trump’s push to deport potentially thousands of Vietnamese nationals rattled his faith in American institutions.
“It’s terrible,” he said. And, for many people, terrifying.
The fear is widespread in San Jose—home to Little Saigon and the largest Vietnamese population of any American city—and throughout the greater South Bay, which boasts one of the highest concentrations of foreign-born residents in the U.S. The White House unilaterally decided to reverse a decade-old pact that bars deportation of Vietnamese refugees who arrived stateside before 1995.
Federal officials say the new rule aims only to remove convicted criminals.
“We have 7,000 convicted criminal aliens from Vietnam with final orders of removal—these are non-citizens who during previous administrations were arrested, convicted and ultimately ordered removed by a federal immigration judge,” U.S. Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Katie Waldman said in a statement. “It’s a priority of this administration to remove criminal aliens to their home country.”
Problem is: many of the targeted refugees sided with the U.S. in the Vietnam War, which makes them vulnerable to persecution by Hanoi authorities if forced to return. The reported targeting of Vietnamese refugees is part of a larger pattern by the Trump administration to go after immigrants with deep roots in the U.S. without regard for the circumstances that brought them here in the first place.
This time around, Trump’s crackdown affects one of the few minority groups that tend to favor Republican candidates. Thousands of Vietnamese war refugees who dropped anchor in the South Bay flocked to the GOP out of aversion for the authoritarian communism that overthrew their home country. Though subsequent generations lean more to the left of their forebears, the demographic remains largely conservative in the South Bay and other Vietnamese enclaves such as Orange County.
California Democrats, for their part, fiercely condemned the White House for trying to reinterpret the 2008 repatriation agreement to expand the roster of deportable immigrants. A dozen House members signed a letter saying the Vietnamese people vulnerable to removal “are Americans who are not familiar with the country they fled from.” Sending them back, they said, would devastate families and entire communities.
Officials in Santa Clara County, which prides itself on being a so-called sanctuary jurisdiction, issued similar denunciations.
In a statement emailed to reporters Monday, the county’s Office of Immigrant Relations vowed to “closely monitor” the situation. It also released a list of funded relief resources for Vietnamese, Hmong, Laotian, Cambodian and other members of the local Southeast Asian community worried worried about detention or deportation.
Though he’s heard from plenty of fellow Vietnamese-Americans who agree with the Trump administration’s rationale for stepping up deportations, Tran said such policies needlessly and recklessly perpetuate generational trauma. It’s true that the people eligible for removal have broken laws, he said. But he believes it’s inhumane to return them to a place that’s foreign to them, not to mention potentially dangerous.
Activists raised similar concerns about Duc Nguyen, a 35-year-old San Jose father of two who feared deportation earlier this month when the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) called him in for additional questioning. Though Nguyen arrived in the U.S. after 1995, his case is instructive because it reflects the plight of so many other people who preceded him in the time period covered by the repatriation agreement.
Nguyen came to California through a humanitarian resettlement program at age 12, according to a community advocacy group called VietUnity South Bay, which shared his story online. Like many youth in communities of new immigrants, he was exposed to gangs and, with no legal help at the time, got caught up in the juvenile justice system.
Over the ensuing decades, however, Nguyen led a productive life. The near-lifelong East Side resident regularly attends Saint Maria Goretti Parish and Chua Duc Vien Buddhist Community Pagoda. He has a 2-year daughter and supports a medically fragile 6-year-old stepson and his aging mother, who requires round-the-clock care.
Immigrant advocates caution that if the White House gets its way with the 2008 repatriation agreement, more people with stories like Nguyen will be in the crosshairs.
“Regardless of pre-95 or post-95 ... many in our coalition are committed to continue fighting to keep families together,” VietUnity organizer Dieu Bruce Huynh said. “Americans believe in no double jeopardy, not being punished twice for one crime.”
The goal of VietUnity, he added, is to protect immigrants and refugees from getting sucked into the school to prison to deportation pipeline. Tran agreed.
“Imagine someone makes a stupid decision, maybe as a teenager, and tries to move on,” he said, “but instead of being able to do that, somebody’s grabbing them by the collar to a country across the ocean that they don’t know anymore. Maybe it’s a country they never knew. You’re punishing them a second time for crimes they already paid for. And the same families that got torn apart from the war are doomed to repeat the same cycle.”
Playful shrieks of children filled the gym at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, where parents and older siblings helped the little ones decorate “ugly Christmas sweater” cookies. To one side of the room, kids lined up to get their photos taken with Santa Claus.
At a glance, the seasonal festivities belied the tragedies that brought everyone together for the weekend gathering. The Dec. 15 “Special Christmas From Heaven” aimed to put a smile on the faces of kids who lost loved ones to police use of force.
“These kids are always the kids that are forgotten in our community,” said Laurie Valdez, who spearheaded the event. “The children that are left fatherless because of police violence, nobody wants to acknowledge these children.”
Valdez knows about that particular kind of bereavement all too well. Her longtime partner, Antonio Guzman Lopez, was fatally shot by San Jose State police two blocks from St. Paul’s on Feb. 21, 2014. He was 38 years old. His son, Josiah, was 4 at the time.
To cope with her own grief and to make sense of the tragedy for her young children, Valdez set out to comfort similarly afflicted families. Through “Justice for Josiah,” her son’s namesake, the mother of two and member of civil rights group Silicon Valley De-Bug rallies activists to protest police brutality. She also advocates for expanding civilian oversight of law enforcement—both here in San Jose and throughout the state.
Many of the events hosted by “Justice for Josiah” are neither political nor public, but private affairs for grieving families. Many of them are like the one held over the weekend at San Jose’s St. Paul’s church on 10th Street, where families had a chance to draw strength from each other. Only this one comes during one of the most difficult times to grieve: the holidays, when the pain of loss becomes particularly acute.
The inaugural “Special Christmas From Heaven” was sponsored by Silicon Valley De-Bug, which garnered additional support this season from Mothers Quest and Respect Organ. A service group called Operation Christmas donated bicycles while 100 Black Men of America donated other gifts for each of the half-orphaned kids who participated in the event. Together We Stand, another nonprofit advocacy group, also chipped in to the toy drive, which grew from 32 recipients in 2017 to 72 this year.
The children represented at the holiday event have family members that have been killed by local police since 2014—and at least one since 2009. Valdez lamented the lack of institutional support—from public agencies and non-governmental community organizations—for families fractured by police killings.
“They should start investing in community healing in our schools to get grief counseling,” Valdez said. “These kids are traumatized, and as they get older, trauma does’t go away.”
According to an analysis by the Washington Post, police throughout the U.S. fatally kill something on the order of 1,000 people each year. In all of California, the same newspaper reported that 109 people were killed by police to date by Oct. 1, 2018. That’s 16 more compared to the same time last year.
Nannies Muñoz lost her brother, Jacob Dominguez, on Sept. 15, 2017, when San Jose police shot the 33-year-old to death after a drawn-out cat-and-mouse vehicle pursuit. Officials say he was suspected of criminal activity, including armed robbery and drive-by shootings. According to Muñoz, Dominguez was unarmed and shot in the back with his arms up in surrender.
His surviving young children, two sons and daughter, still don’t quite fathom what took their dad from them, Muñoz said. Cindy Chavez, their grandmother, said they explain away his sudden departure by saying that God needed him in heaven. The family of Dominguez said they were happy to find a community that connects them with people who’ve endured similar trauma.
Pastor Jennifer Goto, who welcomed “Justice for Josiah” into her church for the event, offered a prayer for the children and their families. She also exhorted the men and women in law enforcement to commit to a “higher calling” of bringing “peace and not heartache” to the communities they serve.
Against a backdrop of youthful exuberance—presents being unwrapped, pizza being scarfed down by giddy youngsters and photos being posted for to memorialize the happy occasion—Valdez took pause to reflect on memories of her late partner. Guzman was a quiet person with a low-key demeanor who volunteered at the Antioch Baptist Church, a historically black congregation in the heart of San Jose.
“He was the most generous, helpful and giving person,” she said.
Valdez said she hopes that by sharing her grief, she can also share her hope.
“What my son suffers, I know all these kids suffer,” Valdez said.
And what gives him comfort, she added, is to find a place among other kids who understand him. That’s the goal of “Special Christmas From Heaven.”
“It’s to bring unity,” Valdez explained, “and to let the kids all meet each other and know that they are not the only kids without a parent.”
A Catholic high school has been talked about in the South County for nearly a decade, but the Diocese of San Jose has run into a series of setbacks in getting its 40 acres of land—their preferred site of the future school—annexed to southeast Morgan Hill.
The latest of these hurdles was the denial of an annexation proposal Dec. 5 by the county commission charged with authorizing city boundary line extensions. The school site sits outside of Morgan Hill’s Urban Services Area, so it must be annexed in order to receive city services like water, sewer and public safety. The area the city attempted to annex sits north of Tennant Avenue and east of Condit Road.
Plans to annex the high school site were submitted by the city of Morgan Hill to the Local Agency Formation Committee (LAFCO) for a second time, resulting in the Dec. 5 ruling. Committee staff had recommended that LAFCO commissioners deny the city’s request, because staff believed the plans were substandard. The annexation failed in a 5-2 vote, with Santa Clara County Supervisor Mike Wasserman and Santa Clara Valley Water District Director John Varela voting to approve the city’s request.
The rejection comes as Gilroy gears up to annex land for the city’s sports park off south Monterey Street. At a Dec. 3 meeting, the Gilroy council directed staff to conduct an environmental report of the area. Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco said the proposal would still have to go through the planning commission and then the council again before heading to LAFCO. But he and city staff attended the recent LAFCO meeting to see what commissioners expected from such a proposal.
Observing the meeting was helpful for city staff preparing the sports park plans, Velasco said. “We know what LAFCO staff is thinking, and we have to make sure that we’re addressing all of those issues,” he said.
Morgan Hill and LAFCO have a complicated history when it comes to the Catholic high school project and what is designated as the city’s “Southeast Quadrant.” Many commissioners at the recent meeting brought up past decisions to deny annexation in the area, which is mostly farmland.
LAFCO is an appointed body of citizens and elected officials from throughout the county. The committee’s mission is, “Encouraging orderly boundaries, discouraging urban sprawl, and preserving agricultural and open space lands.”
The annexation is considered critical to the success of the diocese’s plans for Catholic high school in Morgan Hill. The Morgan Hill council voted 3-2 in September to send the plans to LAFCO for approval. Council members Rich Constantine and Rene Spring voted against it. Spring has proved to be an anti-growth advocate during his council tenure. Constantine previously said he could not vote for the plan because he did not feel it had been improved since the last time it was submitted two years ago.
In 2016, LAFCO denied an annexation request—also submitted by the city of Morgan Hill—for a large portion of the Southeast Quadrant by a 5-2 vote. The city then submitted a request to annex only the land for the South County Catholic High School. The request was denied in June 2016. The original request was part of a plan to annex most of the Southeast Quadrant bound by Tennant Avenue to the south, Murphy Avenue to the west, Barrett Avenue to the north and abutting an agricultural field to the east. This land has been identified in the county’s agricultural plan as prime agricultural land.
The request presented to the committee at the Dec. 5 meeting included 66 acres of land, nearly 40 of which would be used for the high school. Committee staff recommended denying annexation based on several provisions that violated LAFCO standards.
The LAFCO staff report said there was land available within Morgan Hill city limits as an alternate site for the school; the annexation wouldn’t create logical city boundaries; there would be a significant impact to agricultural land; the city didn’t have the infrastructure to provide the public safety, sewer, water and storm drainage to the area; the plan isn’t consistent with the regional transportation plan; the city hasn’t annexed all of the unincorporated land still within the urban service area; and the plan wasn’t consistent with county policies.
The meeting was tense, with comments from LAFCO being contradicted by Morgan Hill’s presentation. Commissioner Sergio Jimenez, a San Jose councilman, before making his decision, said, “You all are viewing things much differently.”
A major topic of discussion was the designation of the parcels as “prime farmland.” Morgan Hill farmers made public comments about the quality of land in the annexation site and said it was not suitable for long-term farming use. George Chiala Jr. of Chiala Farms told the commission his family had trouble in the past farming on the land. “That land isn’t good farmland; if you need data to prove that, I can provide it,” Chiala said. “If we can’t do it, it’s going to be hard for somebody else to do it.”
Still, many commissioners said it would be against LAFCO standards to approve the annexation. Commissioner Rob Rennie said the answer wasn’t black and white, but he didn’t believe Morgan Hill had the proper plans in place.
“These kind of annexation plans would be called sprawl,” Rennie said before eventually voting against it. Morgan Hill spokeswoman Maureen Tobin said the city has no new plans in place following the latest LAFCO denial.
This article originally appeared on San Jose Inside/Metro Silicon Valley’s sister publication, the Morgan Hill Times.
In her first media statement since testifying against soon-to-be-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanagh in September, the Palo Alto professor presented Sports Illustrated’s “Inspiration of the Year Award” to the first woman to publicly accuse ex-USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar of sexual abuse.
“Rachael Denhollander, I am in awe of you and I will always be inspired by you,” Blasey Ford said in a video the magazine posted online earlier this week. “In stepping forward you took a huge risk and you galvanized future generations to come forward even when the odds are seemingly stacked against them.”
“The lasting lesson,” Blasey Ford continued, “is that we all have the power to create real change and we cannot allow ourselves to be defined by the acts of others.”
Santa Clara County has released its final environment review of Stanford University’s expansion plans. The massive document, which runs about 2,400 pages with another 8,000 in appendices, suggests ways to temper the impact of building 2.3 million square feet of new academic facilities and 3,150 housing units over the next 20 years.
It’s the largest project ever reviewed in the county’s 168-year history.
The just-published bureaucratic tome, officially known as the Final Environmental Impact Report, includes thousands of public comments about how expanding the 133-year-old campus would affect local neighborhoods, traffic and schools.
“I realize the document is a large one,” county Board of Supervisors President Joe Simitian said in a news release Thursday, “but it’s important the public review the portions of it that are of greatest interest to them. That way when it comes time to consider approval, we’ll have the benefit of hearing from them one more time.”
At the core of the report is Stanford’s request for a general use permit to add more than 3.5 million square feet to the campus to accommodate 9,000 additional students by 2035. The last time it applied for this kind of permit from the county was in 2000.
The process surrounding the latest iteration, however, is unprecedented in more ways than one. For starters, there has never been this volume of public input on a county project, let alone a Stanford proposal.
Meanwhile, county officials are treating this differently that other projects by exploring a possible development agreement. Unlike a typical deal involving environmental reviews that suggest ways to mitigate impacts, development agreements are open-ended negotiations about what community benefits the applicant could offer.
Simitian said the final review released this week—in two parts, given its size—is a critical starting point for those negotiations.
“It’s impossible to know what you would like to request if you don’t know what you can require,” Simitian remarked. “With publication of the [final review], we have a much better sense of the project’s impact and the universe of potential mitigations.”
Michelle Obama is in San Jose today to promote her new autobiography, Becoming, at a sold-out SAP Center event. But before her 8pm appearance at the sports and concert venue, the former First Lady will visit a lucky group of school kids as part of an educational workshop at the Seven Trees Library and Community Center.
The student seminar is hosted by Public Allies, a 25-year-old nonprofit that trains young people throughout the U.S. to become leaders. It will not be open to the public.
Obama has worked with the organization for decades, leading its Chicago chapter in the 1990s and inviting members to meet her at various stops during her book tour. Public Allies even gets a shout-out in her book, which follows Obama from her childhood, to her work for nonprofits and the legal field and her calling to work with underserved youth.
“I’d been hired to be the executive director for the brand-new Chicago chapter of an organization called Public Allies. Public Allies [is] all about promise—finding it, nurturing it, and putting it to use. It was a mandate to seek out young people whose best qualities might otherwise be overlooked and to give them a chance to do something meaningful. To me, the job felt almost like destiny.
The most exciting part for me was finding the Allies themselves ... Who were the leaders? Who was ready for something bigger than what he or she had? These were the people we wanted to encourage to apply, urging them to forget for a minute whatever obstacles normally made such things impossible, promising as an organization we would do what we could …
... I’ve been amazed over time to see how many of our recruits did, in fact, succeed and commit themselves long term to serving a larger public good. Twenty-five year after its inception, Public Allies is still going strong with chapters in Chicago and two dozen other cities and thousands of alumni across the country. To know that I played some small part in that, helping to create something that’s endured, is one of the most gratifying feelings I’ve had in my professional life.
For the first time in my life, really, I felt I was doing something immediately meaningful, directly impacting the lives of others while also staying connected to both my city and my culture.”
Another 90 or so San Jose Unified School students and their chaperones will get a chance to meet the former FLOTUS at the district office on Lenzen before walking with her into the SAP Center auditorium. The students represent eight local high schools—Broadway, Gunderson, Leland, Lincoln, Middle, College/Liberty, Pioneer, San Jose and Willow Glen —and were invited by Reach Higher, a nonprofit founded by Obama.