Communities In Schools of San Fernando Valley, Inc.

Numerous national and international leaders including Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Dr. Jane Goodall, Al Gore and Barbara Boxer have recognized the work of Blinky and CIS. CIS violence prevention and intervention practices have been replicated in the USA, Germany, Tanzania, England and South Africa. In 1998, Blinky received the Medaille d’Excellence, presented in Switzerland to only 14 people worldwide in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Blinky has earned over eighty-three awards for his work. He was selected by LA Mayor James Hahn, A&E Television and their Biography series as a 2002 Biography Community Hero for his service to LA. Blinky and the staff of CIS were featured in the November 2002 Reader's Digest article on "Everyday Heroes". In 2003, he received the Angel of Peace Award from the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater LA, The SFV Interfaith Council Human Relations Award, Simon Bolivar Liberty Award and was appointed by Mayor Hahn to The Commission for Children, Youth & Their Families. The following is a sample of our achievements: Helped reduce gang-related deaths from 62 to 2 in one year Connected over 1300 youths with mentors Helped place 554 people in jobs Helped place 220 people in college Conducted over 252 Sports Events with over 11,000 participants Conducted over 106 Peace Rallies/Community Events with over 50,000 attendees The Public Safety and peacekeeping efforts of CIS were the subject of a 1999 study, funded by the California State Legislature under AB 2650. Conducted by Cal State University at Northridge, it found the peace treaty to be effective in demonstrating peacekeeping strategies and recommended that it be replicated statewide. CIS has been named the “model” program for gang intervention by the State of California, LA County and the City of LA. A most significant achievement occurred in 2012. After a journey that exceeded eleven years, CIS celebrated the grand opening of our Job Training & Opportunity Center on October 22, 2012. The Center has been a dream since 2001 when CIS first realized the positive impact that having a job had on helping youth continue their education and avoid violence. The Center’s construction was funded by a partnership between the County of Los Angeles, the City of Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency and the U. S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Center represents an unprecedented joint partnership between CIS and LA County Probation. Under a ten-year rent-free lease, the brand new CIS Job Training & Opportunity Center sits on County land and houses job training, educational and other support services programs. County Probation officers share the facility with CIS to serve probationary youth, dropouts and their families. CIS will maximize the Probation partnership and relationships to ensure job readiness service delivery for participants is effective, well coordinated and well managed.


1 Submitted Idea

  • 2013 Grants Challenge

    Peace to Prosperity

    CIS has been in the business of improving public safety for over 19 years. As a world champion in martial arts and kickboxing, CIS Executive Director, Blinky Rodriguez has a long history of working with youth. The work became personal in 1990 when Blinky himself fell victim to gang violence. Sonny, his 16-year-old son was killed in a drive-by shooting. In court, Blinky met the three killers face-to-face, not for retribution, but to forgive them. Through a series of meetings, he subsequently negotiated a truce, called The Valley Unity Peace Treaty, which was signed by over 75 gangs with over 1,000 members. The treaty successfully reduced gang-related deaths from 62 to 2 in the first year. The peace treaty project became CIS San Fernando Valley, a non-profit organization in 1994. Blinky approached long-time friend Bobby Arias, then Southwest Regional Director for Communities In Schools, Inc. and solicited his assistance in developing an “integrated service delivery approach” for gang youth. Since the tragedy of Sonny’s death, Blinky and Bobby have dedicated their lives to improve and promote public safety by ending youth and gang violence and helping young people transform their lives. CIS is one of the first organizations in LA to deliver services exclusively to gang-involved and gang-oriented youth and young adults within a cohesive, integrated, wrap-around service delivery strategy aimed at addressing root causes. These wrap-around services integrate violence prevention, gang intervention, parenting, mentoring, intensive case management, recreation/sports, therapeutic/mental health counseling, life skills and job development based on the individual needs of each client. A critical element within our model is engaging clients in sporting events. These sporting events displace hostility and violence and have proven to be some of the most effective CIS communal public safety intervention activities. They lead to improved quality of life and restoration of community peace, togetherness and tranquility. The idea we propose to LA2050 to improve public safety is our “CIS GAMES FOR PEACE”. The goal of CIS GAMES FOR PEACE is to showcase how CIS can prevent violence through well designed and coordinated sporting events. For example, a flag football game back in 1993 between rival gang members was the pivotal event that helped CIS solidify the historic Valley Unity Peace Treaty. This was a groundbreaking, paradigm busting, first of its kind phenomenon in the realm of peacekeeping in LA. That original football game morphed into a world renowned blueprint for peace acknowledged by the United Nations. CIS has since then conducted 252 sporting events that bring together potential enemies, reduce friction, encourages harmonious communication and prevent violence. Our CIS GAMES FOR PEACE would include a series of basketball, handball, softball and football events. We will conduct a minimum of 25 events each year partnering with Dept. of Recreation & Parks, LAPD and other law enforcement agencies and elected officials to ensure ongoing community safety. In addition, we would make boxing instruction available to this underserved population through our CIS Heart of Champions Boxing Academy. This instruction would take place at a local boxing gym where participants will receive professional boxing instruction. The Academy will provide a positive alternative to gang life for participants and significantly enhance their health, physical fitness and abilities, sense of pride, self-worth, cooperativeness and respect for others. We believe that participation in this program will have profound impact on our youth. Academy youth will be required to take our anger management/mediation class as a pre-requisite to participate in the academy. The curriculum will consist of beginning boxing and kickboxing principles. Those who wish will be allowed to participate in the Golden Gloves program facilitated by the gym. The program will provided participants with a Heart of Champions membership, T-shirt, mouthpiece and hand wraps. We feel this idea will impact public safety by reducing crime and while also improving health. Crime rates are at historic lows throughout the county. Still, the experience of crime and perceptions of safety vary widely along racial and socioeconomic lines. Areas of concentrated poverty tend to have higher rates of violent crime. By participating in CIS GAMES FOR PEACE, youth and young adults will be engaged in positive activities and away from crime. As noted by LA2050, safety and security is “a core element for the well-being of individuals and society as a whole.”2Crime can lead to loss of life and property; it has detrimental physical and mental health consequences; it can reduce economic productivity; and, most detrimentally, it creates a pervasive feeling of vulnerability. By participating in CIS GAMES FOR PEACE, youth and young adults will have ready access to mobile health screening and other services.