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Sunday, May 19, 2024

National Nonprofit Gifts $50K to RISE San Diego

NONPROFITS: Award Part of Grant from Barnes & Thornburg Foundation

The nonprofit Barnes & Thornburg Racial and Social Justice Foundation in late January awarded a $50,000 grant to RISE San Diego. The grant was one of five awarded in the 2022 grant cycle by the foundation, which is funded by Barnes & Thornburg’s lawyers and staff around the United States.

RISE San Diego is a nonprofit organization dedicated to identifying, elevating, developing and advancing urban leaders to positively impact the future of their neighborhoods. The group provides a variety or programming and promotes resident-led civic engagement and works to strengthen community-based nonprofit organizations through technical assistance and training.

RISE San Diego also consults with organizations to help bring diversity, equity and inclusion into the fold to solve complex challenges.

The RISE program, offered in partnership with the Nonprofit Institute at the University of San Diego, selects leaders with demonstrated capacity to bring impact and change to urban neighborhoods. Last year, the group’s headquarters for doing its work was at San Diego State University and this year, the group will be situated at the Educational Cultural Complex on Ocean View Boulevard.

Past RISE San Diego participants include San Diego City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera (District 9), San Diego City Council President Pro Tem Monica Montgomery Steppe (District 4) and San Diego Superior Court Judge Marissa Bejarano.

Tony Young
President and CEO
RISE San Diego

“People think of leadership as one thing – opportunities to advance, opportunities to get better jobs, but for us it’s about identifying the folks who can really impact and affect change in communities they live in,” said Tony Young, RISE’s president and CEO. “(Helping end) Homelessness and abuse, working with issues related to economic empowerment. How do we do that? Who has the best answers? The people who live in the neighborhood.”

Young said that Barnes & Thornburg’s $50,000 grant will support its RISE Urban Leadership Fellows Program and said the group considers the law group’s foundation as partners “as we change the face of leadership in San Diego.”

RISE Fellows are offered development and training that enables them to self-reflect and lead more effectively in the face of often complex, contentious and seemingly intractable challenges in their communities.

“It’s really about ‘What is it inside of you that you can give to the world?’” Young said. “For a lot of people, epiphanies happen when they start figuring things out.”

RISE enlists the support of university professors, therapists, personal coaches and more to bring out the best in participants so they are better prepared to empower their communities, and San Diego as a whole.

Troy Zander
Partner-in-charge San Diego
Barnes & Thornburg

“I’m proud to be a part of a firm supports organizations within our communities that are striving for racial and social equity,” said Troy Zander, partner-in-charge of Barnes & Thornburg’s San Diego office. “RISE San Diego empowers and supports community members so that anyone can create positive change through their leadership.”

The Barnes & Thornburg Racial and Social Justice Foundation was established in 2020 with financial support via personal donations from the more than 800 attorneys and staff in each of the firm’s offices around the country. To choose grantees, the foundation used a scoring system to vet charitable organizations against specific criteria that align with its mission and goals.

The foundation is committed to action by raising awareness, dedicating resources, and advocating for equal opportunities and justice for people of color.

According to Barnes & Thornburg’s website, the other grants around the country went to:

Project New Start, Delaware, which combats violence and reduces recidivism. It operates a comprehensive, results-oriented cognitive behavioral change and job readiness program for individuals transitioning out of state and federal institutions. The goals of its New Start Reentry Program are to assist individuals in developing marketable skills, obtaining, and sustaining employment and developing positive behaviors through cognitive restructuring.

Buried Alive Project, Dallas, which through transformative litigation, legislation and humanization, fights to free people serving “draconian” sentences handed down under outdated federal drug laws. The Buried Alive Project provides legal representation for people buried alive under federal drug laws, advocates for impactful changes in the laws, and amplifies the voices of people directly impacted by the criminal legal system.

Boston Higher Education Resource Center, which functions to equip first-generation youth of color with access to and ways to thrive in higher education, to break the cycle of poverty, and to become agents of change in our communities.

Zora’s House, Columbus, Ohio, which has as its mission creating safe spaces for women of color to establish meaningful, supportive relationships with other women in their community. ; developing a deeper practice of self-care, resiliency, and emotional intelligence; and successfully incubating their creativity, scholarship, entrepreneurship, activism, service and leadership.

Connie A. Lahn
Racial and Social Justice Foundation President and Managing Partner
Barnes & Thornburg Minneapolis

Connie A. Lahn, the Racial and Social Justice Foundation president and managing partner of Barnes & Thornburg’s Minneapolis office, said the organization is “proud to continue to take action, year after year, to fight for social and racial justice.”

“Since the inception of these grants in 2020, we’ve sought to support organizations doing vital and inspiring work,” Lahn said. “We are excited to build new partnerships with organizations doing everything from helping people get justice within the legal system to creating safe community spaces for women of color.”

Michael A. Carrillo
Managing Partner
Barnes & Thornburg Chicago

Barnes & Thornburg’s Racial and Justice Foundation’s other board members are Allen R. Baum, partner-in-charge of the Raleigh office; Michael A. Carrillo, managing partner of the Chicago office; and Roscoe C. Howard Jr., managing partner of the Washington, D.C., office.

“RISE San Diego shares our firm’s values of promoting diverse leadership,” Carrillo said. “We are excited to keep expanding our foundation’s efforts as we continue to invest in our various communities across the nation.”

RISE San Diego

FOUNDERS: Tony Young and Dwayne Crenshaw
BUSINESS: Nonprofit
REVENUE: $993,000 (2020)
CONTACT: 619-531-7473 or
SOCIAL IMPACT: RISE San Diego’s vision is thriving, resident-led urban neighborhoods providing safe and healthy opportunities for youth and families to live, work, and play.
NOTABLE: Co-founder Tony Young was president of the San Diego City Council and while seated, authored the city’s first fair banking ordinance, as well as legislation to create the Gang Prevention and Intervention Commission.


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