Mission Valley News Briefs: Aug. 17, 2018

Posted: August 17th, 2018 | Briefs, Briefs, Calendar and Opinion, News | No Comments

Bening featured guest at SDCCD gala

Actress Annette Bening, a San Diego Mesa College alumna, is giving back the community college system she attended with a special appearance at a fundraiser.

“An Evening with Annette Bening, to Benefit the San Diego Promise” will be held at the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park on Thursday, Sept. 20, starting at 6:30 p.m. The event will help support the San Diego Community College District’s (SDCCD) effort to dramatically expand the number of students to benefit from the San Diego Promise, which waves enrollment fees and provides other support for eligible students.

Annette Bening (courtesy SDCCD)

Bening, a four-time Academy Award nominee, is best known for her starring roles in films such as “Being Julia,” “The American Presi­dent,” and “American Beauty.” A San Diego native, Bening, says her time as a drama student at Mesa College helped prepare her for a highly successful acting career.

SDCCD Chancellor Constance M. Carroll said the district is thrilled to have Bening, a San Diego Promise donor, headline its Sept. 20 gala. Carroll said the event is part of an expanded public-private investment in the San Diego Promise, which will now fund the first two years of enrollment fees for all full-time students who are recent high school graduates.

“The San Diego Community College District is making a commitment to thousands of first-time students to fund two years of college if they commit to taking a full load and completing their education in two years,” Carroll said in a press release. “To deliver on this promise the district is asking the community’s support.”

Carroll said that for 2018-19, the San Diego Community College District is expected to get an influx of state funding, which will fund the first year of the program for new students. Philanthropic support, however, is needed to fund enrollment fees and book grants for each student’s second year.

Launched as a pilot program in 2016 with 186 students, the San Diego Promise enrolled more than 700 students at San Diego City, Mesa, and Miramar colleges this past year. During the upcoming 2018-19 academic year, SDCCD expects to add several thousand new full-time students to the program, which is intended to ensure that no deserving local students are denied the opportunity to earn a college education due to lack of resources.

Presenting sponsors of the event include Roger Frey and Seidler Equity Partners. For sponsorship and ticket information, visit

SDG&E proposes more EV charging stations

San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) proposed two new programs to the California Public Utilities Commission, which aim to build new electric vehicle chargers in public spaces around the city. One pilot aims to bring additional chargers to local parks and beaches; the other focuses on schools and educational institutions, including K-12 campuses, vocational schools, community colleges and universities.

The goal of this new project is to reduce local EV owners’ sense of “range anxiety” — the concern that your car battery will run out of power before reaching your destination or an available charging station — and to make it easier for drivers to switch to electric transportation.

“Our goal is to remove barriers for our customers when choosing an electric vehicle and incorporate charging into everyday life,” SDG&E Chief Operating Officer Caroline Winn said.

“Imagine the convenience of having your car recharged while you enjoy a hike in a park, take a walk on the beach, or watch your children’s athletic event at their school,” she continued.

The programs would prioritize placing chargers in communities that statistically suffer from high levels of air pollution. The American Lung Association rated San Diego’s air quality as sixth worst in the nation and gave the region an F for number of high ozone days annually.

SDG&E’s proposal builds on the growing momentum to accelerate electric vehicle adoption in California. Currently, SDG&E is implementing a half-dozen pilot programs to expand the regional charging network for a variety of vehicles, ranging from passenger vehicles to trucks and forklifts. For more information, visit

New director for USD Shiley Graduate Theatre Program

On Aug. 6, The Old Globe and University of San Diego Shiley Graduate Theatre Program announced the hire of Jesse J. Perez as its new director. Perez is an actor, choreographer, director and professor who comes to San Diego after 12 years of teaching at the Juilliard School in New York.

Perez will join the faculty of the University of San Diego’s Department of Theatre and oversee the master of fine arts in acting program, which is a joint effort between the university and The Old Globe Theatre.

“We could not be more pleased to welcome Jesse, an immeasurably accomplished actor, teacher, and leader, to the University of San Diego as the director of our MFA in acting program,” remarked Noelle Norton, Ph.D., dean of the University of San Diego’s College of Arts and Sciences, in a press release. “His ambitions for growing the program and supporting our students will help take our collaborative program with The Old Globe to new heights. We are honored to welcome him to our university.”

Perez’ list of credits includes acting roles in off-Broadway productions, international exhibitions, choreography and television shows and movies, including “Party People” (The Public); “The Father and a Doll’s House” (Theatre for a New Audience); “Up Against the Wind” (New York Theatre Workshop); “Lucia di Lammermoor” (The Metropolitan Opera); Venice Biennale; Salzburg Festival; “Law & Order”; “Life on Mars”; “American Splendor”; and “Adopt a Highway.” He has been company choreographer for the Lake Lucille Project since 2003, choreographing all of Chekhov’s major plays under the direction of Brian Mertes and Melissa Kievman.

“Joining such an esteemed group of professionals, who are committed to educating the next generation of classical actors and supporting San Diego’s flourishing theater community, is not something I take lightly,” Perez said. “I look forward to advancing the shared mission of both The Old Globe and the University of San Diego in their aim of fostering a world-class graduate acting experience.”

A joint venture of The Old Globe and the University of San Diego, the master of fine arts in acting program nationally recruits seven students each year to participate in an intensive two-year, year-round course of graduate study in classical theater.

In advance of his role with the Shiley Graduate Theatre Program, Perez will play Richard III in La Jolla Playhouse’s world premiere production of “Seize the King” by Will Power, running Aug. 21–Sept. 16.

EnergiPlant installed at Joan B. Kroc School

On Aug. 2, the University of San Diego Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies installed an “EnergiPlant” sculpture in the school’s courtyard.

The Kroc School’s new EnergiPlant will provide USD students and faculty and visitors to the school with an inspirational location to learn about social entrepreneurship and social innovation.

The EnergiPlant sculpture (Courtesy USD)

“The EnergiPlant will be the first installation in what will eventually become the Kroc School’s sculpture garden, a place where students can engage with cool innovations,” Kroc School Dean Patricia Marquez said in a press release. “I envision students sitting on the benches of the EnergiPlant connecting their laptops or cell phones, while they catch up with others and reflect on what they can do to practice change-making.”

The sculpture was created by Primo Wind and utilizes renewable energy to bring electricity to power-charging stations. The installation took around two hours to complete.

“With a mission to train professionals of peace, the Kroc School believes peacemakers must have access to affordable and safe energy,” said Ned McMahon, CEO and founder of Primo Wind, and a member of the Kroc School board of advisors. “The EnergiPlant is a highly practical solution that is entirely powered by sustainable (wind and solar) energy. With an EnergiPlant, we are able to provide maximum energy with the smallest footprint anywhere in the world.”

The EnergiPlant is decorated with vibrantly designed, inspiring and empowering messages that reinforce the Kroc School’s mission through the words of leaders who are passionately committed to changing the world.

Center for Children program gets boost from BofA

Bank of America has awarded $12,500 to the San Diego Center for Children’s Successful Transitions Program to address the gap of services and case-management for transition-age youth, ages 15–21, suffering from mental, emotional and behavioral disorders during their transition to adulthood.

The San Diego Center for Children, founded in 1887 and located in Linda Vista, is the oldest children’s nonprofit in San Diego. The center provides therapeutic care, specialized education and critical life skills to more than 1,000 children and families across eight program sites and in hundreds of homes throughout the region.

The Successful Transitions Program helps transition age youth create a plan for their future that helps build skills and the community connections they need to achieve their goals and well-being. Youth receive tools, individualized coaching and support, and hands-on training to help them implement their goals in the areas of education, job and career, independent living skills, housing, health and mental health.

“The important care and services provided by the San Diego Center for Children for teens at a critical early time in their lives can help get them on path to mental, behavioral and eventually financial stability,” said Rick Bregman, Bank of America’s San Diego market president, in a press release. “Addressing health and other basic needs helps remove barriers to success.”

There are approximately 100,000 at-risk youth, ages 15-24, throughout San Diego. This population includes foster youth and other youth who are experiencing serious mental health challenges, all of whom are highly susceptible to homelessness, dropping out of school, unemployment, chronic mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse and interaction with the criminal justice system – and relying on social services and public assistance programs.

The center’s Successful Transitions Program served 90 transition-age youth in its pilot year. Of the youth that completed the program, 88 percent secured housing, education or employment, and necessary adult services upon completion. The center’s goal is to serve 120 transition-age youth in 2018, 180 youth in 2019, and 250 youth in 2020. Numbers may also increase as partnerships solidify with other organizations serving this population.

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