BAY POINT -- Community leaders in Bay Point have reason to celebrate: The San Francisco Foundation's Koshland Program has pledged to invest $300,000 in the community over a five-year period.
Over the next couple months, up to 12 local leaders will be selected to participate in a six-month leadership training program to become Koshland Fellows to help residents develop a project to improve life and promote civic unity in the community. Financial support will be provided to a community-based group to help carry out the project over the five-year period. Unincorporated Bay Point, home to more than 22,000 residents, has one of the Bay Area's highest rates of unemployment and poverty levels.
San Francisco Foundation provides grant funding to various nonprofits throughout San Francisco, San Mateo, Contra Costa, Alameda and Marin counties.
"This is great news. This not only singles out Bay Point as a community of great potential and on the verge of change, but Koshland helps develop local leaders so that change will be sustainable," Supervisor Federal Glover, whose district includes Bay Point, said in a statement.
In January, Koshland Committee members met with Bay Point community groups and leaders, who learned last week that the community was selected as the Koshland neighborhood for 2013.
There is not a formal competition where communities compete against each other to be selected. Instead, each year committee members seek out a low-income, diverse community that has existing leaders interested in working together to accomplish a common goal.
"This is about promoting civic engagement and having residents involved. We try to look for (leaders) whose values are aligned," said Retha Robinson, director of the Koshland Program. "We really stress that they come up with one project in order to see if we've made a difference over five years."
Among the groups interviewed by committee members was Bay Point Community All-N-One.
The nonprofit organization serves as an umbrella group whose partners include First A.M.E. Church, four local faith-based groups, Classy Crew, a nonprofit that distributes food and clothing, and a for-profit development company that donates a percentage of profits to support Bay Point Community.
"They are pretty impressed with some of the things were are doing here in Bay Point to help out people," said Delano Johnson, a co-founder of Bay Point Community as well as the founder of Classy Crew. "Every one is all excited and the organizations that are involved."
Bay Point Community was established last April by four community groups to coordinate their separate efforts into a combined organization to generate funding that support community services. Among those services are providing Christmas toys to needy children, supporting a free community breakfast held every second and fourth Saturday at First A.M.E. Church, and a weekly food distribution program.
"This is huge," said Dave Thompson, director of SparkPoint East Contra Costa, a one-stop resource center that opened in 2011 in Bay Point that houses several nonprofits and government agencies to help people improve their finances, find a job or get a better job, and build savings, among other goals.
"It really calls attention to what's going on in Bay Point, both the good and the need" for financial support to improve the community.
Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.