News

High School Pathway Program for At-Risk Teens Receives $25,000 Grant

At-risk east valley teens will benefit from a $25,000 Coachella Valley Spotlight grant from the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. The grant was awarded through a partnership with CBS Local 2 to Desert Center for Legal Education, for its Project #180. The pathway program at Amistad High School is a collaborative approach academy that gives at-risk teens the opportunity to gain hands-on legal experience.

The idea of Project #180 was born when Criminal Defense Attorney John Patrick Dolan read an article in The Wall Street Journal about an Inmate Debate Team that had won against The Harvard Debate Team at the Eastern New York Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison where convicts can take courses taught by faculty from the nearby college.

“After a long impressive debate, the inmates prevailed in a very tough competition. For us, that story was the beginning of Project #180,” said Dolan, founder of Project #180 and dean of California Desert Trial Academy College of Law, where the students meet to learn about law and practice mock trial. “Our number one priority is to keep at-risk teens from committing crimes and subsequently entering the juvenile justice system.”

By offering an alternative program to the dangers of drugs, violence, gangs and teen pregnancy, Project #180 seeks to enrich young at-risk high school students mentored by judicial officers, police officers, attorneys, law students and Riverside County officials.

“High school pathway programs, such as Project #180, teach students real-life skills, which help students as they graduate high school and beyond,” said Catharine Reed, Program Director of the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation.

Desert Center for Legal Education will use the majority of the grant funds to pay for courtroom attire, books, transportation costs, mock trial competition fees, and meals for the participating students. The organization also plans on using the funds for gang prevention and intervention efforts.

“Programs like Project #180 are critical in intervening with young people who have been involved in gangs and ensuring they have the ability and encouragement to lead nonviolent, productive lives,” said Mike Stutz, General Manager of Gulf California Broadcast Company, which owns and operates CBS Local 2.

To learn more about the Project #180 Pathway Program through Desert Center for Legal Education visit www.cdtalaw.com.

DIGICOM expanding program to all Coachella Valley School Districts


DIGICOM will now bring its digital storytelling program into more valley middle and high schools thanks to a $25,000 Coachella Valley Spotlight grant from the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. DIGICOM teaches students the fundamentals of using easily available digital technology such as cell phones, tablets and computers to create thoughtful short stories about their communities, their lives, and dreams, as a means of learning academic content.

Through their elaborate media arts program, DIGICOM fosters critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration, which are cornerstones of the Department of Education’s Common Core State Standards. The organization, which has benefited more than 7,000 Palm Springs Unified students annually since 2009, will use the grant to expand the program to Desert Sands and Coachella Valley Unified School Districts.

“DIGICOM empowers young people to share their life experiences by giving them a voice through digital storytelling,” said David Vogel, DIGICOM founder and CEO. “First we train the teachers interested in incorporating the DIGICOM program into their classrooms, then students learn scriptwriting, videotaping, editing, and production. Often the use of video is incorporated into other lessons, so students are not simply learning to create videos, they are learning how to communicate through digital media, which is everywhere today.”

Students of DIGICOM are given the opportunity to enter their films in one of the three film festivals each May. More than 1,500 students, teachers and family members attend the annual Film Festivals, which provide students the opportunity to show their work and be recognized.

“DIGICOM was so successful in Palm Springs Unified School District; it’s wonderful we can extend the DIGICOM experience – as a potentially life-changing opportunity – to more young people in the community,” said Catharine Reed, Program Director of the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation.

Along with the grant, the Coachella Valley Spotlight partnership offers recipients publicity opportunities. DIGICOM was featured on CBS Local 2’s “Eye on the Desert,” in public service announcements and on the cbslocal2.com website throughout the month of May.

“Digital storytelling is becoming more and more prominent in our world, and teaching students how to use this medium productively is commendable, and something we are very excited about,” said Mike Stutz, General Manager of Gulf California Broadcast Company, which owns and operates CBS Local 2.

For more information about DIGICOM and the DIGICOM Film Festivals, visit http://www.digicomfilmfestival.com.

Golf program expands lessons into local elementary schools

The First Tee of the Coachella Valley will now bring its youth golf program into area schools thanks to a grant from the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. The organization, which teaches life lessons through the game of golf, received a $25,000 Coachella Valley Spotlight grant.

“This grant will allow us to bring our comprehensive golf and core values program into five valley schools. It’s the start to implementing The First Tee National School Program in the Coachella Valley,” said Tim Skogen, PGA, Executive Director of The First Tee of the Coachella Valley. “The First Tee is about making better people, not just better golfers.”

The First Tee is a national organization with chapters in about 1,200 communities, which seeks to impact the lives of young people by providing learning facilities and educational programs that promote character development and life-enhancing values through the game of golf. The local chapter, The First Tee of the Coachella Valley has offered golf lessons to kids and teens regardless of previous experience and background since 2008.

Participants, ages 4-17, are introduced to nine core values of honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment, which are incorporated into the program. Players learn values such as honesty and responsibility by calling penalties on themselves and reporting their own score.

“The First Tee has been positively impacting youth and their families at its clubhouse facility, and now it can make an even greater impact by going directly into the schools,” said Christopher McGuire, Vice President of Programs for the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation.

More than 6,000 local youth participate annually through the year round and after-school programs and through collaboration with local charities. Three Indio schools have already implemented The First Tee National School Program into this year’s curriculum, and there are plans to implement in more schools during the 2017-2018 school year.

“It’s wonderful we can to extend The First Tee experience as a potentially life-changing opportunity to more young people in the community,” said Mike Stutz, General Manager of Gulf California Broadcast Company, which owns and operates CBS Local 2.

Along with the grant, The First Tee of the Coachella Valley was featured on CBS Local 2’s “Eye on the Desert,” in public service announcements and on the cbslocal2.com website throughout the month of April. The First Tee’s clubhouse is located at, 74-945 Sheryl Avenue in Palm Desert. For more information and a calendar of events, visit http://www.thefirstteecoachellavalley.org.

Grant will Help Friends of the Desert Mountains Upgrade Hiking Trails

Friends of Desert MountainsBlooming desert wildflowers served as the perfect backdrop for Friends of the Desert Mountains to receive the $25,000 Coachella Valley Spotlight grant from the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. Each year more than 20,000 valley residents and visitors enjoy the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center, off Highway 74, and hiking trails, which the organization supports.

Friends of the Desert Mountains recognizes the ever-increasing popularity of the Coachella Valley hiking trails among residents and visitors, and aims to improve safety, usability, and the enjoyment of the entire trail system. Grant funds will benefit the organization’s Trail Stewardship Program.

“We plan to use a portion of the grant proceeds to enhance the Ed Hastey Trail, which is the trail accessible to strollers and wheelchairs, to include tactile and other sensory experiences specifically designed for those with vision, hearing, and other sensory impairments,” said Tammy Martin, Executive Director of Friends of the Desert Mountains.

Friends of the Desert Mountains maintains more than 500 miles of recreational, hiking, biking, equestrian trails in the Coachella Valley. Although much of the work for the program is carried out by volunteers, the program incurs costs associated with the upkeep and replacement of tools, sign and exhibit printing, signposts and associated materials, and staff time related to coordination and design.

“I was hiking these trails a few weeks ago,” said Catharine Reed, Program Director for the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. “As Coachella Valley residents ourselves, we are interested in seeing that these areas are preserved and maintained for future generations of valley residents and visitors to enjoy.”

Beyond conservation and preservation, the mission of Friends of the Desert Mountains includes research and education. The organization provides outdoor education to several hundred students from various Coachella Valley school districts each year.

“After acquiring more than 50,000 acres of land to maintain in conservation, Friends of the Desert Mountains is a natural authority to teach stewardship of our precious resources,” said Mike Stutz, General Manager of Gulf California Broadcast Company, which owns and operates CBS Local 2.

Along with the grant, Friends of the Desert Mountains was featured on CBS Local 2’s “Eye on the Desert,” in public service announcements and on the cbslocal2.com website throughout the month of March. Friends of the Desert Mountains is located at the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center, 51500 Highway 74, Palm Desert. For more information and a calendar of events, visit www.desertmountains.org.

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Berger and Barker Foundations partner to purchase Salvation Army bus

IMG_4372The Salvation Army Dick and Beverly Davis Corps Community Center purchased a 25-seat shuttle bus thanks to a generous combined donation of $75,000 from the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation and The Coeta and Donald Barker Foundation.

The new bus will be used to transport children in The Salvation Army’s after-school and youth programs to summer camp, field trips and other unique activities.

“This addition will give children in the programs an opportunity to have experiences they wouldn’t normally get,” says Lt. Brandon Kyle, administrator and pastor of The Salvation Army serving Coachella Valley.

Prior to this purchase, it was difficult to transport the children to off-site activities, resulting in many trips back and forth from the Corps and limited outings for the kids in the programs.

To bring public awareness to The Salvation Army’s youth program and recognize the contributions of the Berger Foundation and Barker Foundation, the new bus has a distinguishing wrap that will make it very recognizable as it rolls through the valley.

“The Coeta and Donald Barker Foundation is honored to be able to help The Salvation Army in their purchase of a dedicated bus to offer transportation to their community center for the youth in our valley,” says President Nancy Harris. “We have supported The Salvation Army for the last 12 years in their community services and world-wide efforts during disasters and praise them for their dedicated services.”

The bus would not have been possible for The Salvation Army to purchase without the matching grant from the two generous foundations.

“We love partnerships that bring people together, and in this case with the Coeta and Donald Barker Foundation and The Salvation Army, this new bus is really doing that,” says Catherine Reed, Program Director of the H.N and Frances C. Berger Foundation. “This bus is making it easier for children to access the programs and services offered at the Dick and Beverly Davis Community Center, which means more families will benefit from all that is being offered there.”

Currently, The Salvation Army Dick and Beverly Davis Center has 80 children in their after-school and youth programs. The programs offered include: music classes, Sunday school, indoor soccer league, teen night, open gym and character building classes.

To learn more about youth programs at the Dick and Beverly Davis Center, please go to www.coachellavalley.salvationarmy.org or call the Center at 760-324-2275.

Matching grant will support services for children recovering from abuse

The H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation has pledged a $75,000 matching grant to the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Make March Matter™ campaign. CHLA and the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center (BSCC) are partnering to raise $250,000 for services related to child abuse, before March 31.

The inaugural Make March Matter campaign in 2016 focused on the Los Angeles area to raised funds for the hospital. This year’s campaign expanded to include a component designed to raise funds specifically for Coachella Valley children receiving healthcare services at CHLA and BSCC. Both organizations have programs that focus on the needs of children suffering the effects of abuse and neglect and those who are at risk of being abused.

“We are grateful to the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation for its support, which we hope will inspire others to give to this important cause,” said Dawn Wilcox, Vice President of Corporate Partnerships at CHLA.

Offering more than 350 programs and services specifically for children, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is dedicated to creating hope and building healthier futures. All of the money raised in the desert will be used to bring the services that CHLA provides through the Audrey Hepburn CARES Center to the BSCC. The funding will help patients receive child-appropriate care more quickly, reduce delays in child abuse investigations, protect more children who have suffered abuse and support a more streamlined return home for children who have not been abused.

“It is important that children suffering from abuse and neglect receive specialized counseling services and other treatment, regardless of a family’s financial situation,” said Catharine Reed, Program Director for the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. “It means a lot to us that we can help these children and families.”

For more information or to donate to the Make March Matter campaign, visit www.makemarchmatter.org, or call 323-361-1766. Both Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center are 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations.

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Berger Foundation honored by Xavier College Preparatory High School

Xavier_Berger AllXavier College Preparatory High School had a rare opportunity to honor the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation at its 11th Annual Companions’ Dinner. It was a special occasion to thank the foundation for donating the initial 96 acres, on which the valley’s only Jesuit high school is built. Since the school opened in 2006, the Berger Foundation has continued to support its mission of forming compassionate leaders as Xavier has graduated 721 students to date.

Traditional with the school’s Companions’ Dinner, the evening began with a Catholic Mass led by The Most Reverend Gordon D. Bennett, S.J., D.D., of Loyola Marymount University. The evening began with a cocktail reception on the patio of the Ritz-Carlton Resort. The Xavier College Prep Chamber Quartet was the entertainment for the pre-dinner social hour. Father Howard Lincoln offered the invocation, blessing the meal and those who prepared it.

DoeDee Rover, President Emerita and Director of Marketing and Advancement for the school, gave a heartfelt speech about the Berger Foundation and its board believing in the vision and mission of the school early on. Then, she and Chris Alling, current school President, presented members of the foundation board with a large framed lithograph of St. Francis Xavier, for whom the school is named. Attending the event on behalf of the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation were Ronald and Sherrie Auen, Christopher and Carol McGuire, Douglass and Gwen Vance, Catharine Reed, Francis and Mary Ann Wong and Michael Rover.

In her comments, Rover said it was important for Xavier to not only publicly recognize the Berger Foundation for all its Board of Directors has done for them, but also all the private, family foundation has done for hundreds of nonprofit organizations in the Coachella Valley. Since 1988, the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation has contributed over $700 million to charities throughout Southern California and the United States. More than half of that has been given directly to established 501(c)3 organizations in the Coachella Valley. Many of those nonprofits attended Xavier’s event to also pay tribute to the Berger Foundation including Dr. Lisa Lindley of Coachella Valley Symphony; Stephanie Landes of Desert Christian Academy; Michael Landes of Eisenhower Medical Center; Dr. Frank Ercoli of Hanson House; Jan Lupia of HEARTBeat at 22; Matt Johnson of Old Town Artisan Studio; Bill Powers of Ophelia Project; Juan De Lara of the Salton Sea Action Committee; Ruth Moir and Susie Morales of Steinway Society; Allen Monroe and Jan Hawkins, of The Living Desert; Rick and Sherry Mesa, Ernie Ruben and Teddi Rozell, with The Ranch Recovery Center, Inc.

Each of the 200-plus guests attending the dinner received a replica of the Pectoral Cross that Pope Francis wears. Enclosed in a box and tied with a bow, the silver cross inside represents “the good Shepard” who guides his flock to the fold.

Grant from Berger Foundation will Help Upgrade Palm Canyon Theatre

PCT CheckA $25,000 Coachella Valley Spotlight grant from the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation will help upgrade the Palm Canyon Theatre’s 20-year-old equipment. The award came just as the theatre is celebrating its 20th anniversary season.

“This generous gift from the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation is coming at a wonderful time,” said Se Layne, co-artistic director of the Palm Canyon Theatre (PCT). “We plan to purchase new lighting and backstage monitoring systems. This means we can start a new era with current technology, allowing us to give our young actors a true real-world experience.”

The Palm Canyon Theatre incorporates education into every production, hiring professionals as needed to teach aspiring performers and technical crews specialized skills. The regional repertory theater is dedicated to the education of live stage production and the enrichment of the greater Palm Springs community and its visitors. PCT produces about 13 Broadway musicals and classic plays each year, plus offers a children’s theatre camp and production. Auditions are called several times a year for people of all experience levels.

“Each season, the Palm Canyon Theatre produces an ambitious lineup on a limited budget,” said Catharine Reed, Program Director for the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. “We are happy to give this grant, which will benefit every show, talent and crew there for many seasons to come.”

The Palm Canyon Theatre was founded by members of the Layne Family; each has a professional theatre background. After extensive tenant renovations to the historic Frances S. Stevens School, the Palm Canyon Theatre opened its doors in September 1997. PCT has a small staff and about 250 volunteers, which include on-stage and off-stage talent, ushers, summer camp counselors, and more.

“When looking at need in a community, it’s sometimes easy for people to overlook the arts and support causes that appear more essential, but I’m proud of the CBS Local 2 Advisory Board for recognizing nonprofit organizations, like the Palm Canyon Theatre, that help strengthen our communities in a variety of ways,” said Mike Stutz, General Manager of Gulf California Broadcast Company, which owns and operates CBS Local 2.

Along with the grant, Palm Canyon Theatre was featured on CBS Local 2’s “Eye on the Desert,” in public service announcements and on the cbslocal2.com website throughout the month of February. The Palm Canyon Theatre is located at 538 North Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs. For more information call 760-323-5123 or visit www.palmcanyontheatre.org.

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Children benefit from grant to Loma Linda Children’s Hospital

BHLH Loma LindaA $25,000 Coachella Valley Spotlight grant from the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation will make it safer for seriously ill children to be transported by ambulance from a Coachella Valley hospital to Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital (LLUCH). The grant was awarded to Big Hearts for Little Hearts Desert Guild in Support of Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital, which seeks to enhance the lives of our community’s children.

LLUCH works in partnership with hospitals in the Coachella Valley. As a tertiary hospital, LLUCH is staffed and equipped to care for even the most serious health situations. In 2016, about 1600 critically ill or injured children were referred to LLUCH from area hospitals. One out of every three children transported from the Coachella Valley to LLUCH goes by ambulance.

“We work hand in hand with our transport team. They are often the ones who save the child’s life during transport before they even make it to LLUCH, and often, they are the forgotten heroes. When it came to this grant, we asked them what they needed to make their jobs easier,” said Josh Zahid, Big Hearts for Little Hearts Desert Guild Manager for LLUCH Foundation.

The proceeds from the grant will be used to purchase a Revel Transport Ventilator and a GE VScanner portable ultrasound to be used by the transport team in the ambulance. This equipment will give the medical personnel the necessary tools to save lives during the trip to the comprehensive, specialty hospital.

“We are happy this grant will create a safer trip for children being transported to Loma Linda, and hopefully give some relief to families during a stressful time,” said Catharine Reed, Program Director for the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation.

“The Big Hearts for Little Hearts Desert Guild was founded to support the health of children in our area who need the special care that sometimes only a children’s hospital can provide, and we believe receiving the Coachella Valley Spotlight grant will help the organization fulfill its mission,” said Mike Stutz, General Manager of Gulf California Broadcast Company, which owns and operates CBS Local 2.

Along with the grant, BHLH Desert Guild in support of LLUCH, was featured on CBS Local 2’s “Eye on the Desert,” in public service announcements and on the cbslocal2.com website throughout the month of January. For more information about the organization call 909-558-5384 or visit lluchdesertguild.org.

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H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation grant helps expand mobile art program

old-town-artisan-studio-2A $25,000 grant from the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation will purchase a van for Old Town Artisan Studio, Inc., which is the latest recipient of a Coachella Valley Spotlight award.

“This transport van will expand our Mobile Art Program and primarily help us deliver finished pottery projects to our participants all over the valley who create gorgeous works of art, and then have to wait for the process of firing the pottery, etcetera,” said Diana Marlo Noll, interim Executive Director of Old Town Artisan Studio (OTAS). “We are extremely grateful to the Berger Foundation for this gift, which will help the efficiencies of our program immensely.”

More than 8,000 people, including groups from special education classes, special needs homes, senior centers and more come to OTAS throughout each year. The hands-on experiences are therapeutic and often expose participants to something completely new.

“Old Town Artisan Studio is a place where people of all ages can experience the healing power of art,” said Victory Grund, who founded the organization with her husband Richard in 2009. The couple envisioned the concept when they realized that funding for art programs had been slashed from school budgets and many private social service agencies.

“Whether people come to Old Town Artisan Studio or instructors come to them, the organization allows people to explore their creativity, and that is a gift,” said Catharine Reed, Program Director for the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation.

Old Town Artisan Studio is dedicated to providing positive art experiences for all Coachella Valley residents despite age, disability or financial disadvantage. Donations to Old Town Artisan Studio allow the organization to continue offering free programming or reduced fee levels for those with financial challenges.

“Adding a van to Old Town Artisan Studio’s Mobile Art Program will allow the organization to reach even more people who love this unique community service,” said Mike Stutz, General Manager of Gulf California Broadcast Company, which owns and operates CBS Local 2.

Along with the grant, Old Town Artisan Studio was featured on CBS Local 2’s “Eye on the Desert,” in public service announcements and on the www.cbslocal2.com website throughout the month of December. For more information call 760-777-1444 or visit www.oldtownartisanstudio.org. OTAS is located at 78-134 Calle Tampico, La Quinta, but in 2017, the organization will open a new 8,000 square-foot-facility at 78-045 Calle Cadiz, La Quinta.