Walking tall

Walking tall

Flintridge Foundation celebrates 30 years of community service with first-ever fundraiser


By Carl Kozlowski 04/02/2014

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For the past 30 years, the Flintridge Foundation has helped make life brighter for residents of the often-troubled areas of Northwest Pasadena and West Altadena. Combating the effects of poverty and violence through an array of innovative programs and strategic partnerships, its leaders have sought to stretch every last dollar available to them in helping the community overcome a severe lack of economic opportunity, as well as failing public education and youth and gang violence. 

Yet despite transforming into the nonprofit public charity Flintridge Center in 2007, they have never before hosted an official fundraiser. That’s about to change Saturday, when the center hosts Walk Northwest, in which 100 supporters, community partners, business leaders, elected officials and others will walk 3.7 miles through Northwest Pasadena, beginning and ending at the center, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

In keeping with the center’s tradition of finding direct interactive solutions for the community, organizers sought to avoid holding a high-priced gala dinner which their clients would be hard-pressed to attend. Instead, the decision to walk through the area’s actual neighborhoods and past such landmarks as Jackie Robinson’s childhood home, Washington Middle School and La Pintoresca Park and Library was rooted in sticking with the organization’s core mission and principles. 

“The goal is to have 100 people walk, making it very manageable the first time out,” says Ann Erdman, the publicity subcommittee chair for the Walk Northwest Planning Committee. “It may grow over the years, we hope, but for first time out it’s manageable, and we wanted to do a fundraiser that was not the standard sit-down gala but would engage people in a big way.”

The interactive WalkNorthwest.org site has been taking registrations and donations online since Feb. 5, and those who are curious are welcome to learn more about the event and the route, and tell their own stories about Northwest Pasadena.

Proceeds from the registration fees and corporate and patron donations will benefit Flintridge Center, which works to create profound and lasting change through its programs, including the Youth of Promise Mentoring Program. That program offers nearly 50 academically challenged and behaviorally disruptive middle school students each year, with mentors from the Pasadena Police and Fire departments serving as advocates for youth who are in danger of gang involvement or being expelled from school. 

Their other programs include the SKILLZ Summer School, which is a free learning experience for students entering ninth and 10th grades who have multiple failing grades. The five-week program has served more than 300 students to date, helping them develop their confidence, motivation and social skills through a supporting environment and the opportunity to earn both elective and academic credits.

Meanwhile, the center’s Pasadena/Altadena Reintegration Council serves more than 300 formerly incarcerated people and former gang members each year. It relies upon the joint efforts of 47 nonprofit, faith-based, public safety, public health and other government agencies to provide formerly incarcerated people with the support needed to start a new life. 

The center’s Apprenticeship Preparation Program provides hands-on experience, knowledge and skills needed to be accepted into a construction union apprenticeship program.  With all of these programs transforming lives, Flintridge Center has served as the city of Pasadena’s official institutional home for youth violence prevention and intervention programs, serving as the lead agency for a coalition of 50 community stakeholders that  meet monthly to develop and implement strategies to prevent gang and community violence. 

“Northwest Pasadena has so much history, issues and areas of interest, so a community walk with stops along the way is the best way to go,” says Erdman. “With a big party at the end with food, entertainment and information tables, it’s a great day for both residents and volunteers to learn about and get to know each other.”

Walk Northwest takes place from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, starting and ending at the Flintridge Center, 236 W. Mountain St., Pasadena. For more information on the route and donating or participating in the walk, visit WalkNorthwest.org. 

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