The Raincross Group Celebrates 25 Years by Honoring 25 Riverside Leaders

The Raincross Group, a community advocacy group, celebrated its 25th anniversary as an organization on Feb. 21 by honoring 25 people voted the most influential to the leadership of the city in the last 25 years.

“Out of the hundred-plus nominations, 25 people stood out to our membership,” said Raincross Group President Wendel Tucker. “This gave us a chance to reflect on the outstanding leadership we have had as a city over the last quarter century, and it pushes us to emulate their example as we move ahead. That strong web of leadership is part of what makes Riverside great.”

“The commonality among all the people who have been named in this list is a dedication to the well-being of the city, outside of their work day,” said Collette Lee, Raincross Group President-Elect. “Each of these honorees sees community involvement as an essential component of their lives.”

RaincrossLogo1The 25 honorees who were  acknowledge at an event Feb. 21 at the Victoria Club include: Kathy Allavie, Dr. Chuck Beaty, Jane Block, Bob Buster, Jane Carney, Jack Clarke, Jr., Henry Coil, Ron Ellis, Jim Erickson, Tom Evans, Judge John Gabbert, Dr. Larry Geraty, Art Littleworth, Ron Loveridge, Roger Luebs, Rose Mayes, the late Judge Vic Miceli, the late Art Pick, Duane Roberts, Cindy Roth, John Tavaglione, Ofelia Valdez-Yeager, Jennifer Vaughn-Blakely, Timothy White and Jacques Yeager.

In the spirit of  ‘Intelligent Growth‘, The Raincross Group advocates for open and effective city government through the engagement with and development of local and diverse community leadership to improve Riverside’s quality of life. For more information on The Raincross Group, visit their website here.

UC Riverside Research Holds Promise in Battling Kidney Cancer

As a catalyst for innovation, Riverside celebrates the many discoveries and continuing research of its colleges and universities.  One of the most recent accomplishments that is likely to have a global impact came from chemists at UCR who developed a compound that holds much promise in the laboratory in fighting renal (kidney) cancer.

Michael Pirrung is a distinguished professor of chemistry at UC Riverside. (Photo by I. Pittawala; source: UCR Today)
Michael Pirrung is a distinguished professor of chemistry at UC Riverside. (Photo by I. Pittawala; source: UCR Today)

On February 19, UCR Today reported that Michael Pirrung, a distinguished professor of chemistry at UC Riverside, announced the development of TIR-199 in a lecture he gave that same day at the 5th International Conference on Drug Discovery and Therapy, held in Dubai, UAE. The TIR-199 compound targets the “proteasome,” a cellular complex in kidney cancer cells, and operates like the garbage dump of a cell by breaking down proteins.

The TIR-199 research project at UC Riverside began about four years ago after a multidisciplinary, international team reported on a class of compounds that act on the proteasome. Encouraged by early results, Pirrung submitted TIR-199 samples to the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, where the compound was subjected to a rigorous 60-cell screening used routinely to test compounds for their effectiveness in battling 60 kinds of cancer, including leukemia, lung, colon, brain, breast, ovarian prostate and renal cancers.

“We were very excited when the NCI informed us that TIR-199 has excellent potential to be moved to drug development because of its selective activity against renal cancer,” Pirrung said. “This is good news also because the NCI scientists told us there really are no good drugs out there to fight renal cancer.”

The UCR Office of Technology Commercialization has filed a patent application on TIR-199 and is currently seeking partners in industry interested in developing the compound commercially. Several biotechnology companies have already shown interest.

For more information on the TIR-199 compound and the research/commercialization project, read the full article as published by UCR Today.

Eastside Garden Gives Riverside Students Hands-On Learning Experience

The Eastside Community Garden at Emerson Elementary School is a shining example of Riverside’s unified spirit working together for the common good of the city as a whole.

On February 23, the Press-Enterprise published a story written by correspondent Kevin Keckeisen about the collaborative effort between Riverside Parks and Recreation Department and Riverside Unified School District. The garden is part of the school district’s Farmers Market Salad Bar program.  The following is an excerpt from the story:

First-grader Kalia Cook, 6, inspects lettuce plants with the rest of her class at the Eastside Community Garden at Emerson Elementary School in Riverside. (photo by Kevin Keickerson; source:
First-grader Kalia Cook, 6, inspects lettuce plants with the rest of her class at the Eastside Community Garden at Emerson Elementary School in Riverside. (photo by Kevin Keckeison; source:

Nearly two dozen different crops such as squash, tomatoes, eggplants, lettuce and onions are grown. The produce provides students nutrition at the school salad bar, and some is sent to RUSD Nutrition Services to be centrally prepared and distributed to other schools in the city.

“Kids don’t have the foggiest idea where this stuff comes from. It comes from the grocery store as far as they’re concerned,” said Tony Inaba, caretaker of the garden and Riverside parks commissioner.

Students do most of the planning and weeding, and they observe. They work on the garden once every other week, and so do students with disabilities from North High School. It’s a learning process and part of their curriculum, Inaba said.

The community also has access to the garden.  According to the Eastside Community Garden Facebook page, this is the city’s oldest community garden and has been in existence since approximately 1980. In 2004, Emerson Elementary and the City of Riverside Parks and Recreation Services Department joined forces.  Since then, the operation has won national attention for it’s ‘garden to salad bar’ participation by the Emerson Elementary students five years in a row.

Click here to read the full story as published in the Press-Enterprise.

For more information on the garden, visit the group’s Facebook page.

Tohoku University Center at UC Riverside Creates Opportunities for Sister Cities Sendai and Riverside

(Includes excerpts from the article published in the Press-Enterprise written by Mark Muckenfuss)

On February 11, 2013 UCR and Riverside officials hosted representatives of the Japanese university to officially mark the establishment of the new UC Riverside Tohoku University Center, which will act as a funnel for Tohoku students wanting to study here. It also will assist UCR students who want to travel in the other direction.

Visiting Japanese college student Yuri Teraoka, 20, from Tohoku University in Sendai, collects prickly pear cactus cuttings with a classmate from a cactus farm at the El Sobrante Landfill in Corona for re-planting elsewhere on the property. (photo by David Bauman, PE staff photographer; source:
Visiting Japanese college student Yuri Teraoka, 20, from Tohoku University in Sendai, collects prickly pear cactus cuttings with a classmate from a cactus farm at the El Sobrante Landfill in Corona for re-planting elsewhere on the property. (photo by David Bauman, PE staff photographer; source:

Tohoku University is in Sendai, which has been a sister city to Riverside for more than 50 years. It is one of Japan’s largest universities with 10 separate colleges and nearly 20,000 students. UCR has slightly more than 21,000 students.

Officials said the new center will further strengthen the connection between the two cities, a relationship that escalated a notch two years ago when Riverside reached out in support following a large earthquake and tsunami that destroyed much of the Sendai region.

The two universities began talking about expanding their cooperative program three years ago. And last year, the Japanese government awarded Tohoku University a $10 million grant to increase international study over the next five years. Tohoku will be sending its international study students exclusively to UCR.

“This is one of a kind,” said Bronwyn Jenkins-Deas, director of International Education Programs for UCR Extension.

What makes it different, she said, is the effort to connect the exchange students’ projects beyond the campus, such as the ecological work at the El Sobrante Landfill.

“Both of us are going to work really hard to get the students into the community,” Jenkins-Deas said of the two universities.

Beyond the environmental projects, the current crop of students will be assigned to alternative energy and engineering work beyond the campus boundaries. Jenkins-Deas foresees assignments with city government, local schools and museums.

“I see at least 70 new projects that could come as a result of this,” she said. “Every time we contact someone, about five more ideas come out of things we can do in the future. It just builds, and it’s a tremendous opportunity.”

Creating opportunities for students and the community through the relationships and collaborations with our international sister cities demonstrates Riverside’s commitment to intelligently growing the economy through inventive and multi-disciplinary approaches.

Read the full article as published in the Press-Enterprise.

Wood Streets Neighbor Network Recognized for Improving Riverside’s Quality of Life

Each month the Riverside City Council in partnership with the Riverside Neighborhood Partnership (RNP) – a gathering of neighborhood leaders and activists from the community, business and faith-based organizations – celebrates an achievement or success of a local neighborhood group or effort.

WSNN LogoEarlier this month, the RNP 2013 Chairman and Seizing Our Destiny Champion Pastor Jeff Wright and RNP Board Member Gary Coffer recognized the Wood Streets Neighbor Network in a presentation to the City Council.

Founded in May 2012 by Michele Carry, the community group has already grown to over 30 volunteers who help their neighbors in the Wood Streets with tasks such as walking dogs, running errands, doing minor household repairs and other everyday jobs.

“Nationwide 28% of residents do not know the name of a single neighbor,” stated Wright. “This Wood Streets Neighbor Network stands in contrast to that inertia; they get to know, and serve, their neighbors in the Wood Streets.”

WSNN volunteers help a neighbor with landscaping maintenance (Source: WSNN Facebook page)

Examples of the group’s service includes assisting an elderly neighbor with landscaping maintenance so that she could avoid being cited and/or fined for code violations.  They have driven a retired police officer to and from his cancer treatments – 5 appointments per week for nine straight weeks.  It is also common for the volunteers to partner with local congregations or other agencies to help with service projects throughout their neighborhood.

“It is Riverside’s great strength to have a commitment to neighborhoods and to neighborhood groups, not just for governance, but for local problem solving working with the City to improve our communal quality of life,” expressed RNP Chairman Wright.

The Wood Streets Neighbor Network is a shining example of Riverside as a unified city, improving the quality of life for others through collaboration, outreach and community spirit.

To watch the full City Council presentation recognizing the Wood Streets Neighbor Network, click here; or to learn more about the group, click here.

Click here for more information on the Riverside Neighborhood Partnership.

Riverside Cab Driver Considered Hero

In the tragedy and sadness of recent events surrounding the shooting of Riverside Police Officers Michael Crain and Andrew Tachias, a local cab driver that was at the scene reminds us that the Riverside community is filled with unsung heroes.

Karam Kaoud
(photo by Jessica Halston, PE)

On February 15th, 2013 the Press-Enterprise shared more details of the assault and the role that Yellow Cab Driver (a mechanical engineer by degree) Karam Kaoud played in saving the life Officer Tachias.

Riverside police Chief Sergio Diaz said without Kaoud’s quick action, the department may have had to bury another officer.

“He saw an extremely violent act where somebody had just fired many, many rounds into a police car,” he said. “We recognize that this Good Samaritan was unarmed and extremely vulnerable, and instead of running away he ran toward these officers and possibly saved a life.”

In the light of everything that the assailant took away from Riverside, the actions and selflessness of Mr. Kaoud should not be overlooked nor forgotten.

Click here to read the full Press-Enterprise article.

U.S. Ranks California Baptist University #25 Among Online Bachelor’s Programs

(source: CBU Media Center, January 2013)

California Baptist University (CBU) earned the no. 25 spot among online bachelor’s programs in the 2013 Top Online Education Program rankings by U.S. News & World Report. 

CBU entered the online education market in the spring of 2010 with programs offered by the university’s Division of Online and Professional Studies. It is the first time those online programs have been ranked by U.S. News & World Report. CBU now serves more than 2,500 students online throughout the United States and offers 26 online undergraduate majors, eight master’s degrees and two certificate programs.

CBU“It is gratifying to be ranked in the top 25 of best online bachelor’s programs after two short years,” said Dr. David Poole, vice president for Online and Professional Studies at CBU.  “We are all thrilled to be recognized byU.S. News & World Report. I am particularly pleased that CBU ranked no. 2 overall in faculty credentials and training and no. 15 in student services & technology. This validates that quality and experience of faculty; innovative, cutting edge technology and student support are at the heart of what we do.”

CBU’s commitment to meeting the educational demands of the community in a flexible and innovative manner helps Riverside strengthen its position as a center for lifelong learning.

To read the full article celebrating CBU’s and Riverside’s academic achievement, click here.

Ramona High School’s AVID Program Celebrates 25 Years of Preparing Students for College

Following the recent 25th Anniversary Celebration of Riverside’s AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program, AVID founder, Mary Catherine Swanson published a blog that personalized and memorialized the determination, success and impact of the Riverside AVID program – a true example of Riverside being a place for lifelong learning for all and its commitment to intelligent growth.  Below is an excerpt from her article:
AVID founder Mary Catherine Swanson

“Riverside began AVID at Ramona High School in 1988 – one teacher, one class section.  That year the school graduated 325 students and schoolwide three percent went to college.  The school was 68 percent white; nine percent of the students qualified for aid to families with dependent children and five percent were English learners.  Ramona offered one Advanced Placement class. Beginning in 1988, each year Ramona added a class section of AVID and additional teachers.  They devoted a counselor to the program, and the district supported the costs of tutors and professional development.

Ramona High School AVID graduates that attended the school’s 25-year program anniversary event included, from left: Claudia Pacheco, Frank Lopez, and Michelle (Velasquez) Foley. They are with Sally Griffin, former Ramona AVID coordinator, second from right. (source: content)

Fast forward to 2012.  Ramona High School is composed of 84 percent underrepresented minorities and 79 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunches.  Fifty-three percent of the students are English learners.  Twenty-six percent of the student body is enrolled in AVID (more than 500 students), and the schoolwide college going rate is 28 percent.  There are 17 Advanced Placement classes whose enrollment is 85 percent AVID students.  Ninety-eight percent of the AVID students receive acceptances to four year colleges, and 99 percent enroll in college.  Ramona regularly sends AVID students to MIT.  More than 1,700 students have graduated from Ramona’s AVID program.  Ramona has more Dell and Gates scholars than any school in the nation.

In 2005 Newsweek Magazine named Ramona High School as one of the 800 best high schools in the nation and the AVID Center in 2010 named Ramona one of the five top superstar AVID schools in the nation.  Ramona has been an AVID Demonstration School for 19 consecutive years.

Over 25 years, Ramona High School has become filled with students who society and our school systems expect not to succeed, but each year Ramona has gotten stronger and stronger.  They have done it through the dedication of the school board, administration, teachers, and students – the school where everyone said it couldn’t be done.”

To read the full article as written by Swanson, including individual student success stories, click here.
To read the article recapping highlights of the event as published by the Press-Enterprise, click here.
Click here  for more information on the national AVID program.

Riversiders Come Together as a Unified Community in Prayer, Solidarity

The following includes excerpts from the article written by PE Correspondent, Alicia Robinson, as published on February 7, 2013 by the Press-Enterprise:

Quietly bundled in sweatshirts, coats and scarves against a chilly night, a small crowd of Riverside residents came together to show support for their police department Thursday, Feb. 7, after the shooting of two officers that morning.

One officer — an 11-year veteran of the department — was killed, and the other — a trainee who joined the department a month ago — is reportedly recovering at Riverside Community Hospital. Police have not released their names and asked the media to refrain from reporting them for the safety of their families while the suspected shooter, Christopher Dorner, remains at large.

(photo source: Press-Enterprise)

Thursday’s vigil on the plaza in front of City Hall drew about 150 people, who heard a short prayer by Riverside police Chaplain Steve Ballinger and then broke into smaller groups to pray with other chaplains and clergy or to chat in low voices.

Mayor William “Rusty” Bailey, who said a few words before introducing Ballinger, reassured people that Riverside is a safe city. He also echoed what some in the crowd felt when he said, “We are a unified city and I want the world to know that.”

Riverside resident Henry Ross said he came to the vigil to show “solidarity. We’ve suffered a tragic loss today and it’s close to home.”

Ballinger, his voice unamplified and his face bathed in the lights from several TV cameras, told the crowd a Bible story in which Jesus and his disciples were caught in a tempest while crossing the Sea of Galilee.

They were afraid, but they asked God for help and they did not abandon the boat, he said.

“We’re in a storm, and as a community let’s all stay in the boat together,” Ballinger said.

To read the full article as published on www.PE.comclick here.

-> Special message from the Riverside Police Department: 

The men and women of the Riverside Police Department would like to thank the community for their support during this difficult time.

In response to the many requests, the following information is provided should anyone wish to make a donation to the family of our fallen police officer. Such donations will be provided to the family through the Riverside Police Officers Association in order to assist the family with the many financial needs they will undoubtedly face.  Thank you again for your support.

Please mail checks to:

Riverside Police Officers Association Assistance Fund or RPOA
1965 Chicago Ave, Suite B.,
Riverside, California 92507

CBU Student Receives National Recognition on the ‘Ellen Show’ for Community Service

(Source: California Baptist University Media Center, January 29, 2013)

Ellen DeGeneres recently recognized CBU student Reneisha Wilkes as Volunteer of the Year on the nationally-broadcast Ellen Show. DeGeneres presented Wilkes with a $10,000 check from Shutterfly and a certificate.

 “The amount of public service that you do is so impressive to me … so beautiful,” DeGeneres said on the Nov. 19 program as she presented the award.

Reneisha WilkesWilkes is a senior communication major in the Online and Professional Studies Division. After graduation, she plans to continue her education at CBU in the master of public relations program.

Wilkes began a non-profit organization called Someone Helped Me at the age of 14, offering free transportation to senior citizens and veterans.

“I love helping people,” Wilkes said in an e-mail describing her experience on The Ellen Show. “The ride share program was implemented when I started to receive so many letters from around the U.S. from veterans having a hard time finding rides. We help as many veterans as we possibly can get rides to their doctor appointments and to the grocery store.”

The CBU senior says that anyone can assist those around them.

“I would just tell young people and (everyone) in general to help others any time and in any way you can,” she advised. “You don’t have to help people with money or material goods. You can help them by doing a good deed for them or saying a kind word. Help someone else, and you in turn will be blessed!”

Reneisha Wilkes is a shining example of a Riversider and student that has made improving the lives of others and creating a more unified community part of her everyday life.

To read the full article as published by CBU, click here.