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Graduation 2020

COVID-19 Could not lock out Class of 2020

Written by: Santiago Madrigal (Alumni 2017)

Operation New Hope (ONH) celebrates a decade of high school graduation ceremonies with John Muir Charter Schools. Number ten will be remembered as the year of COVID-19, the typical graduation ceremony hosted at San Bernardino Valley College’s historic theater was modified to meet the needs of “social distance” requirements. ONH staff coordinated a drive through ceremony for the class of 2020.


ONH was established in 1980 as a means of preparing ‘disconnected youth’ for the realities of adulthood. In 2009, Operation New Hope received critical funding from the San Bernardino County Workforce Development Board through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). That funding allowed the program to partner with John Muir Charter Schools. The partnership with John Muir Charter Schools provides ONH students with a high school education that is tailored to the student’s needs. The partnership provides students with small class sizes and a family-like atmosphere that teaches the importance of life, job and leadership skills.

‘Disconnected youth’ or ‘opportunity youth,’ are youth who are ages 18 – 24 years old who did not graduate from high school or working. Research shows ‘disconnected youth’ are more likely to experience poor health, lower incomes, unemployment, and or incarceration as adults. Russell Degnan, CEO stated “It is crucial for students to receive their high school diploma. Having their diploma allows them to gain employment or enroll in a secondary institution.”

The class of 2020 produced 17 high school graduates. Prior to the overnight COVID-19 changes to classroom instruction we had expected 28 students to graduate, Degnan said. Unfortunately many students struggled with the online learning platform. Operation New Hope runs 2 Youth Opportunity Center’s in San Bernardino County, partnering with John Muir Charter Schools and Innovation High School to provide youth with a state accredited (WASC) high school diploma. 429 youth have received their high school diploma through ONH’s Youth Opportunity Center’s since 2010.

“We provide our students with soft skill sets that make them attractive to potential employers,” Degnan explained. “They receive training on job readiness, financial literacy, leadership, anger management, substance abuse, and everything in between.” To prepare their students for the realities of life, youth complete life skills workshops and workforce workshops building a career portfolio, learning the value of work ethics, earning vocational certificates, and completing work experience projects. “Each element of our program is critical to building healthy young men and women,” Degnan said.

ONH Youth Opportunity Center’s are located in downtown San Bernardino and Rancho Cucamonga. Programs offer year round enrollment and year round programming. The schools provide summer school in the month of July, to learn more or to enroll visit their website or contact the San Bernardino center at 909.380.0641 or the Rancho Cucamonga center at 909.527.3894

ONH Staff Being Trained by: Resiliency-Building Leader Program

In our latest nonprofit Giving Back initiative, the Resilience-Building Leader Program is thrilled to offer RBLP Leadership Certifications to the staff of Operation New Hope, an outstanding organization based in San Bernardino, CA doing exemplary work in educating under-served youth and providing them with life skills and pathways to success.

Photo via Facebook.

Founded over 35 years ago by Bill and Anne Degnan – who drew on their educational background in philosophy, sociology, theology, science and medicine to create a unique lifestyle format and support program – Operation New Hope “envisions a community in which all youth, without regard of their living situation, have an equal opportunity to pursue their goals and dreams, and an equal likelihood of achieving them.”

ONH is dedicated to understanding the challenges of out-of-school youth, aiming to increase the success rate of dropouts through Evidence Based trauma-informed curriculum, case management, leadership development and more to develop their own personal roadmaps to achieving success. The organization has made tremendous strides with the Inland Empire’s disadvantaged youth over the last decade, with over 4,000 students completing their Career Pathway Program and 83% entering employment or enrolling in higher education or technical schools.

Photo via Facebook.

In its standards- and classroom-based curriculum, ONH serves its students needs by providing a low student-to-teacher ratio learning environment and individualized instruction based on each student’s needs. To compliment the curriculum, ONH teaches essential life skills and encourages a “lifestyle change based in personal responsibility”; activities in the program include outreach efforts such as this past February’s “Love Is A Warm Blanket” initiative, offering hygiene kits, clothing and tents to the homeless community.

Watch this video feature to learn more about how Operation New Hope is “changing lives, one step at a time”:

To learn more about Operation New Hope, visit them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or visit their website for more detailed information about ONH’s curriculum and programs.

Taking care of our community is a core value at the Resilience-Building Leader Program. Our primary Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative is to provide RBLP exam prep training and leadership certifications to front-line leaders, middle managers, and senior leaders at selected charitable nonprofit organizations at no cost.

Learn more about how we are Giving Back to the community.

Get your staff certified and trained by Resiliency-Building Training Program Today

ONH Evidence Based Trauma-Informed Youth Program

#mentalhealthmonday #mentalhealthmatters
ONH Youth Opportunity Ctrs. & Comm. Partners provide a unique but largely untapped opportunity to support youth who experience potentially traumatic events and adversity, such as poverty, violence, verbal abuse, childhood abuse, sexual abuse, & living under substance abuse.

To enroll today:

#changinglivesonestepatatime #teamonh Choosing to be better today than we were yesterday.
#changecanhappen #holistichealth


Man of the Year – CEO Nominated 2018

First Man of the Year event hosted at San Bernardino Valley College

Assemblymember Eloise Gomez Reyes hosted the Inland Empire’s first ever Man of the Year ceremony on Friday, August 24.

IECN photo Manny B. Sandoval: Gary Ferrer being honored with a Man of the Year certificate from Assemblymember Eloise Gomez Reyes.

Exemplary men who have gone above and beyond in their communities were recognized with a certificate in front of a packed crowd inside KVCR Studios at San Bernardino Valley College.

“Friday night we honored 25 finalists in the 47th Assembly District who exemplify exceptional service to their community,” said Assemblymember Reyes. “It is an honor to recognize these successful and altruistic men who continue to be mentors to community members throughout the 47th Assembly District and the Inland Empire. Congratulations to Ipyani Lockert for being selected as the 2018 Man of the Year.”

Ipyani Lockert of Fontana was selected as the 2018 Man of the Year award based on his work with Motivational Realizations, California Partnership and other community organizations within the Inland Empire.

IECN photo Manny B. Sandoval: Man of the Year finalist Tom Rivera and Lily Rivera enjoy a night out.

Each of the finalists were recognized with a speech detailing their significance within the community before taking the stage to accept their certificate and thank their community.

“I’m very humbled to be acknowledged at this level. It means a lot to see the names of those I’m being recognized with, it’s exciting. It’s an honor to do great things for the community. My wife Racheal believes in uplifting people in the community and helping them be the best they can be,” said Aaron Burgess Sr., executive director of California State University, San Bernardino’s Santos Manuel Student Union.

Out of 80 nominations received, 25 finalists made the cut.

“This is the first time we’ve done anything like this. My office received over 80 nominations throughout the community. You all inspire me,” said Reyes.

IECN photo Manny B. Sandoval: Pastor Samuel Casey, Keith Burkes, Dwaine Radden Sr., and Aaron Burgess Sr.

The start of the ceremony began with an ice-breaker activity. All attendees had to stand back to back with someone whom they did not know and then revealed to their partner something that they always wanted to do as a child.

“KVCR is aiming to continue to be an asset to the community. When approached to host events such as this, this answer is always ‘yes.’ It’s an honor to help make a difference in our community, it’s important to recognize and promote those who do good for themselves and the community. It’s important as a media station to acknowledge that,” said Ralph Cooper, director, Foundation and Development, KVCR.

Many of the nominated men who went up on stage expressed having felt that it was unbelievable that they were nominated for Man of the Year.

“When I got the phone call about all of this I thought they were joking. My wife started laughing. After going through what I went through when I was a young adult, it has got me all the way here…today. I want to thank my wife, my mother-in-law and father-in-law,” said Man of the Year finalist James Tillman.

Those who were honored at the ground breaking event included Aaron Burgess, Sr., Artist Gilbert, Bishop Gerald Barnes, Dr. Dev Gnanadev, Dwain Radden, Sr., Gary Ferrer, Ipyani Lockert, Jack Long, James Tillman, Jeffrey McConnell, Jerry Almendarez, John Braxton Jr., Leno Moreno, Lowell King, Lt. Mike Madden, Michael Garcia, Russell Degnan, Rev. Samuel Casey, Sandy Torres, Terry Abernathy, Thomas Rocha, Tom Rivera, Vin Ho, Walter Hawkins and Wilfred Marshall.