Regional Access Project Foundation Newsletter
December 2015
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The second edition of RAP's "Desert Fast Pitch" was again dovetailed with the Communications Conference.

It was informative. It was exciting. It was entertaining. And, for the participating organizations, it was also profitable.

After local nonprofits had gone through the application process, 12 of them were selected to participate in the training and coaching that goes with learning how to tell their organization's story in a compelling -and brief-manner to potential funders. For their efforts, each of the 12 organizations had the opportunity to pick up a check for $1,500 to go along with the education they received. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, only nine of the organization were able to complete the training and coaching program.

But there's more. Six organizations were selected to go on to compete for bigger prizes. And they were given another $1,500 for their success in the program leading up to the Oct. 21 "finals."

When all the three-minute presentations had been made, Christopher's Clubhouse walked off with the big prize of the evening-RAP's $20,000 award for being the best "storyteller."

But El Sol Neighborhood Education Center actually came out the big cash winner, by receiving $15,000 for being judged "Coaches Most Improved," and another $10,000 for winning over the crowd and being voted "Audience Choice," sponsored by the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. Totaled up, that's $28,000 to go along with their valuable training . . . training that convinced the audience and hopefully will convince funders in the future.

For more about Christopher's Clubhouse and their mission of keeping families safe from predation, you can visit their website at   and you can learn about El Sol Neighborhood Education Center at .

If you'd like your organization to get this kind of training along with the possibility of some helpful grant money, watch the RAP website, for the "Call for Applications" coming up in February. The date of the next Desert Fast Pitch is Oct. 26, 2016.

Fast Pitch Winners
Emcee Dan Ball, KMIR, News Anchor, Mika Moulton - Chirstoper's ClubHouse, Supervisor John J. Benoit
RAP Board Member Rosemary Ortega,  Angelica Alvarez - El Sol Neighborhood Educational Centers

First Place Winner La Quinta High School Team
        A Message from RAP CEO
As we approach the end of 2015, it's time to look back and reflect on the year's events and activities, take note of RAP's accomplishments, and think about how we can improve the services we provide to our communities in the future.
The RAP Board updated the 2014-19 Strategic Plan and increased the number years for the Mental Health Initiative from one to four. We spent a great deal of resources to ensure the Request for Proposals (RFPs) addressed gaps in services, accessibility issues and improving service delivery. I am confident that the proposals currently being reviewed and ultimately selected for funding will have a positive impact on our community.
RAP appreciates the strong partnerships we have in the community, for example, Cal State San Bernardino-Palm Desert Campus, who invited our Desert Connect staffer Mireya Reyes to participate in their Student Volunteer Fair held on Nov. 10. We were able to join the Riverside County Office on Aging in providing volunteer opportunities throughout the Coachella Valley and to sign up some very enthusiastic volunteers!
The Technical Assistance Program
(TAP) enhancement process is underway. Key stakeholders were recruited, and they agreed to participate in a six month process to complete a comprehensive review of the program and to provide recommendations to the RAP Board for consideration. In addition to the survey that was sent out earlier this week, we intend to host three focus group meetings over the next few weeks to get as much input as possible. The goal is to facilitate a good understanding of what we n eed to change in order to be as effective as we
can be to the nonprofit community.
I want to acknowledge a prime example of successful collaboration: the October 21, 2015 Nonprofit Communications Conference "Changing Live, Making Impact".   We received overwhelming positive feedback from those who attended the conference and the Desert Fast Pitch competition. The event would not have been possible without our supporting sponsors, workshop panelists, the Fast Pitch contestants and their coaches, and especially RAP staffers, Eva Guenther-James, Mireya Reyes, Trinidad Arredondo, Stuart McClain and Amalia Coyt. Somehow, they made it look effortless on the day of the event!
The RAP Board of Directors and staff look forward to working towards and discovering new opportunities to improve the lives of our residents in the New Year.

Happy Holidays!

Lety De Lara, CEO 
Mentorship Program to Work with Coachella Valley High School Students
Coachella Valley Youth Leadership (CVYL), a pilot
project of the Regional Access Project Foundation (RAP), met with parents at Coachella Valley High School to recruit students interested in the
program. The boys mentoring program is designed to help current students who need just a little motivation to become successful.
"We have 20 students who are excited and can hardly wait to be part of the program in January," says CVYL Program Manager Trinidad Arredondo. "The program kicks off January 11 and is only available to Coachella Valley High School students at this time."
The RAP Foundation is excited about the current partnership with Coachella Valley Unified School District and hopes to work with the other regional school districts in the near future.
The Coachella Valley Unified School District approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work with RAP and CVYL at the Board's Nov. 10 meeting. During the month of December, mentors Rudy Gutierrez, Ramon Leija, Joe Ceja, Jess Sanchez and Ray Amador have been talking to students during lunch and making class room presentations.
Coachella Valley High School Principal Uribe is very supportive of the program and has been instrumental in connecting CVYL staff and mentors with school district counselors and staff.
"RAP would like to thank the many teachers who have allowed us to present to their classes, says Trinidad Arredondo. "They have a keen interest, of course, in motivating their students."

From left to right, Cathy Regan, Child Life Specialist, NICU, Johanna Watt, Interim Director, Volunteer Services/Hospitality Services and Eva Guenther-James

Event was held December 17th, Loma Linda University Children's Hospital -  Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). 
Eva's volunteer work included almost 11 years as a Volunteer "Snuggler".  Many tiny infants in Loma Linda University Children's Hospital -NICU are too sick to go home and instead must stay through the holidays. Numerous families are burdened with the financial impact of their infant's illnesses, often heightened by additional treatment, surgeries and procedures.  Through volunteering every Saturday on NICU for almost 11 years, Eva was made aware of the hardship and stress for families.  In 2006, Eva started the "Christmas Stocking" project as a small way to put a smile on families' faces and help them realize that they are being thought of as well as their infants.  In 2007, Eva renamed the stocking project in memory of "AJ' an infant patient she "snuggled" for many months who passed away on Christmas Day.  Each Christmas stocking is filled with donated items such as infant clothing, burp pad, receiving blanket and knitted hats.  Each year, these filled stockings are distributed to approximately 110 infant patients, starting the week before Christmas until all the stocking are distributed, usually a few days after Christmas.  This project is supported by various individual and group donations, with items purchased, sewn and knitted.

Americorp volunteers assisted at
Mecca Resource Fair 10 year Anniversary October 14, 2015

Student representatives from every high school in the Coachella Valley participated in the World Quest competition event on December 10, 2015.