News: Articles & Press Releases
PRESS RELEASE: Innocent prisoners
Vallejo, California November 15, 2021 - Forced exposure to second and thirdhand smoke is deadly, yet many innocent elderly, youth and children living in Vallejo multi-unit housing have no way to escape it. In fact, there is no smoke-free multi-unit housing in the city of Vallejo. “I live in an apartment complex, and yes, there is a lot of tobacco use and a lot of times people throw cigarettes inside of the park. Sometimes it lights the park on fire or people smoke pens around the kids in the park.” (Vallejo High student)
To add fire to the flame, exposure to secondhand smoke damages the immune system which is a significant risk factor for many underlying health conditions linked to the COVID-19 disease, including diminished lung capacity, and associated risk of respiratory illnesses, putting the lives of kids exposed to secondhand smoke at serious risk. Many cities have already adopted smoke-free policies prohibiting smoking in multi-unit housing. For example, the city of Benicia passed a smoke-free multi-unit housing ordinance that prohibits smoking for all attached housing of two units or more, including prohibiting the use of electronic smoking devices and smoking or vaping marijuana.
The journey for smoke-free multi-unit housing was started years ago, with the introduction of an ordinance by youth advocates at the Fighting Partnership Organization. The question is, what is taking Vallejo so long to resolve this critical issue for youth.
On October 25th a youth-led effort aimed at reducing the susceptibility to virus exposure was launched by Club Stride Inc advocates for smoke-free policy, specifically to support Vallejo kids who do not have the power to escape second and thirdhand smoke in their homes. This is particularly important to youth living in multi-unit housing, where smoke is transferred from one unit to another through air vents, pipes, gaps in insulation, electrical outlets, ceiling fixtures, windows and doors; and cannot be ventilated. “Kids are being held prisoners to the dangers of smoke in their own homes and are being put at risk of high chances of complications from pneumonia, daily.” (Dr. Rhonda R. Renfro, CEO – Club Stride In.) Because COVID-19 attacks the respiratory system, proponents of smoke-free multi-housing are expressing what they see as a critical need to prevent exposure to anything that would weaken the lungs and or increase susceptibility to COVID-19 for youth.
At the October 26th city Council meeting, in public comment, 17-year-old advocate (and life-long resident of Vallejo) Kaela Reed noted that “…this is important because [the dangers of] smoking in multi-unit housing affects more than just the smoker. It affects multiple other families as well.” On October 28, 2021, Vice-Mayor Rozzana Verder-Aliga took the lead on this issue by emailing the city manager and Mayor McConnell to request that a draft ordinance submitted by a team of Club Stride youth advocates, also known as the Solano County Tobacco Inhibitor (SCTI), be added to the City Council agenda before the end of the year. The ordinance was drafted by attorneys at the Public Health Law Center: https://www.publichealthlawcenter.org/
The effort is a collaboration between the Solano County Tobacco Prevention Project and Club Stride Inc.
As Dr. Verder-Aliga spearheads the next steps in this journey, SCTI is joining with organizations like Fresh Air Vallejo, the Vallejo environmental justice organization that shut down the VMT/Orcem waterfront terminal and slag cement plant project in Vallejo, to protect children, youth, and elderly against the exposure to the environmental injustice that smoking in multi-unit housing creates.
This smoke-free initiative is also a plea to city leaders to protect the health and lives of low-income, marginalized residents, groups, and communities from tobacco related harm, which have smoking rates that are significantly higher than the general population, that have higher infection rates with greater morbidity and mortality and are at serious risk of contracting COVID-19.
For more information and to support this effort, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
 Guan WJ, Ni ZY, Hu Y, et al. Clinical Characteristics of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in China. N Engl J Med. 2020.
PROJECTVATU Youth Media Leadership and Social Media Advocacy
A RISING STAR: Sophia, one of the youngest members of the Club Stride team has a heart of gold. She created her own series, recorded it and edited it with her own style to support criminal justice reform.
Sophia has studied debate as part of the Bay Area Urban Debate League. She is a seasoned speaker and determined advocate for racial justice.
Sophia was awarded the Rising Star Award for her exemplary work and willingness to rise to every occasion to support her advocacy.
Youth Leadership Speaker Series
This seasons leadership speaker series began in January with guest speakers Frankie Guzman from the National Center for Youth Law, and Darris Young from the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative. Both speakers shared expertise in the area of criminal and juvenile justice.
On April 5th, Ria Kalsi, UK Activist and Social Media Influencer provided a workshop on activism and prioritizing mental health.
Future speakers in the series include Dr. Devon Lee, Director of Diversity and Inclusion Programs and Congressman Mike Thompson on the topic of juvenile justice reform in California and direct action training.
Criminal Justice Reform
Club Stride, started its criminal justice cohort on November 2, 2020.
Members of the cohort represent schools from Alameda and Solano counties, who have pledged to support their communities and members of the cohort in a significant effort to advocate for criminal justice reform.
The Criminal Justice Civic Leadership Internship will build the platform for organizing a state level initiative led by bay area youth. Participants will engage in base-building and power mapping to build a successful plan for organizing this endeavor, and will represent their peers during a legislative visit planned in 2021.
There 30 pre-registrations for the program.
Club Stride Summer Official Spokespersons
Student Outreach is a podcast by VATU student interns. The Student Outreach team are Club Stride spokesperson. Their podcast plays on Apple Podcast, Google Music and Spodify and are focused on ICE, Black Lives Matter, Education and 2020 elections. DeAndre, Madison, Neveah, Natalie and Chelsea are also the founders of an upcoming newsletter for that will highlight black businesses owners.
The group has also started a petition to support continuing dual enrollment in their city, which is officially not going to be available to students if nothing is done to stop it. They also explain why this is important to them and how eliminating dual enrollment will affect the city in their podcast.
Club Stride held its first online protest on July 28, 2020. The demonstration highlighted artists, activists and organizers who have been protesting racial inequity and police violence.
The demonstration was also to protest efforts by local governments to increase spending on law enforcement and to bring awareness to the idea of re-imaging public safety, including insight from proponents of the "Defund the Police" initiatives and "abolition movements."
Club Stride supported A.B. 392 which passed into law fall of 2011 and became effective January 2020. Recent California policy initiatives include A.B. 767, which would allow victims of excessive police force to seek compensation, and A.B. 1185 which would authorize counties to establish a sheriff oversight board.
No Justice. No Peace.
On June 7, 2020 Club Stride and local area organizations marched and rallied against racism and for police reform. Over a thousand residents marched approximately two miles in support of national efforts, but more specifically to protest police violence in the city of Vallejo, where the California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has issued an "expansive review" of the Vallejo Police Department, citing recent high-profile police shootings, including that of Sean Monterrosa which came at a time when cities across the country are protesting police violence.
In Vallejo, families of those shot and killed by local police have been demanding police accountability for years. Club Stride joined their efforts by supporting state legislation (AB931 and then AB392) beginning in 2016. In 2019 a revised version of the bill was signed into law by Governor Newsom.
Awarded Woman of the Year by Congressman Mike Thompson.
Dr. Rhonda Renfro, Executive Director and Founder of Club Stride, Inc. was honored by Congressman Mike Thompson as Solano County Woman of the Year. Dr. Renfro formed the corporation in 2011 after years supporting youth.
Dr. Renfro continues to successfully cultivate powerful youth speakers and create platforms for them to be seen, heard and feel significant.
Olivia Sanchez Interns on the 13 Reasons Set at Film Mare Island
Film Mare Island is a film production company. Olivia will be a high school junior. She has a long history of art and photography experience. She has been a Club Stride member for two years. Discussion about a collaborative partnership between Club Stride, Inc., Film Mare Island and The Robby Poblete Foundation to facilitate a skills training and youth internship program is underway.
Club Stride Leader awarded by Mayor
Club Stride mayoral intern and Club Stride Leader, Troy Sambajon receives gift of acknowledgement presented by city of Vallejo mayor, Bob Sampayan. Troy diligently worked side by side with students from other cities to draft a presentation that was presented before city council supporting reconstruction of a youth commission in the city of Vallejo. Troy started off as a volunteer at Club Stride, but now participates in advocacy efforts to support equity and inclusion.
New Environmental Justice Advocacy Team
"Tobacco can ruin people's lives. Not only on how they act but on their health. It affects every part of their body emotion, health, etc. Tobacco users don't see that because they are already addicted to it....This is our chance to show teens and the young adults that haven't gotten addicted to it yet that it's wrong and that we can help them go another path."
Ovidio Gonzalez Quijano is one of six participants in the Environmental Justice Internship for tobacco prevention. They call themselves the SOLANO COUNTY TOBACCO INHIBITORS (SCTI). And they are serious about environmental justice.
Club Stride Inc. is partnering with Solano County to provide youth leadership in the fight for smoke-free multi-unit housing in the City of Vallejo. There is currently no smoke-free multi-unit housing in the city of Vallejo, a disturbing fact that impacts the quality of life for everyone currently living in multi-unit housing in the city of Vallejo, but particularly youth, older residents and infants.
The internship started on August 19, 2021 and includes plans for a robust social media awareness campaign that will feature art and digital content to support tobacco prevention created by our youth advocates.
Club Stride is currently offering several job opportunities for youth where youth will develop as public speakers, learn aspects of digital marketing, community organizing, civic media, lead social justice advocacy campaigns and collaborate with peers across the Bay Area. Click the link below to learn more:
PROJECTVATU Youth Media Leadership and Social Media Advocacy
The projectVATU instagram page is a platform for creating change. The projectVATU page is where the creative work of youth advocacy meets civic engagement.
Youth in the eight month Club Stride youth leadership program provides youth with a fun space to create, engage and advocate for or against issue that impact them. The year there are FIVE teams: vloggers, podcasters, legislative speakers, content creators and our newest team of storytellers.
The year, youth are learning and practicing media skills while supporting efforts to reform the juvenile justice system. All youth leaders are scheduled to speak before the California Assembly in June. Together they are ProjectVATU.
Teen Activist Awardee Gracie Osborne
The month of February is especially important to Club Stride because it is Black History month, and the organization was founded by an African American woman who's vision to support young women in her own neighborhood is blossoming into a powerful work regionally. In an effort to support the current campaign, Gracie decided to create at least one Instagram post about Black History for every day of the month. She has performed with excellence and commitment. She should be very proud of her work. For her service to community and racial justice, she has been awarded the distinguished Teen Activist Award for 2021. To find out more visit click here: Gracie Osborne Gallery.
Youth Voice Magnified
Club Stride, VATU program spokespersons Madison Lindke, Monica Romo and Club Stride youth staff facilitated a presentation and discussion about youth led intergenerational activism. The breakout session was part of the 2020 Solano County Equity Summit.
The Summit included educators, county representatives, elected officials and community members.
The team focused their presentation on relationship building that inspires intergenerational activism.
A video of their presentation is attached to the home page for this website.
Historically, youth have been seen as a resource, rather than a source of power and energy for change. We are committed to ensuring that youth are in decision making spaces where they can exercise their power.
Club Stride Summer Content Creators
So many delays because of COVID-19, but the Club Stride projectVATU summer content creators @_melanie.v
worked on The Strategy to Empower Impacted Families Project. The project sought to support families impacted by police violence through media development and social media advocacy. Students involved in this project believe that it is important for family members to be heard and they are using their position and expertise to help elevate families and provide a platform for them to be empowered.
It's important to continue to use our platforms to share about these topics. Lets keep it going. We are the change.
This summer interns are focused on 4 areas: racial equity, education, ICE and defunding the police. Help us to continue to spread awareness about these important issues by following us on instagram @projectvatu.
Youth interns take the lead in a very important conversation about student wellness. Students are advocating for more mental health resources on school campuses and say that students are suffering through emotional issues alone on campus where proper resources are not distributed equitably throughout their city.
A new teen podcast, Vallejo Online Talks, will discuss the wellness issue and other concerns in the youth community on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Google Music and Apple Podcast.
Coding for Social Justice
Engineer Tim Smith mentored 5 Vallejo students in coding last quarter as part of Club Strides new coding program. Participants Adrian Reyes, Jaime Almeida, Marquis McCleod, Charlie Hawkins III and Damon Booker participated in a pilot program that supported youth activism on local high school campuses. The primary website for this project was created through the new program, which will be a powerful tool for anchoring future student advocacy campaigns.
Health Equity in Solano County
Club Stride is Collaborative Partner: National March For our Lives, Vallejo
Club Stride provided media services, and collaborated with a number or organizations toward the success of the Vallejo March For Our Lives. Special thanks to The Eric Reyes Foundation for enlisting our media services. In addition, Club Stride speakers participated as MC and stage management and Club Stride alumni spoke and performed.
Vallejo Alliance Towards Unity
The first session of the VATU program yields a cohort of 60 students from three local high school campuses. After receiving over 400 applications for the program this year, Club Stride is gearing up for its second cohort, which will start June 15, 2020.
2021 Day of Action
Club Stride will have a day of action in June 2021. Youth from Solano county, Alameda county and Contra Costa county will speak before the California Legislature.
The youth in the Club Stride leadership program are currently supporting four new bills: AB-124, AB-503, AB-624 and AB-256. All four bills support criminal justice reform.
In addition, Club Stride is leading an effort to prioritize racial equity in the implementation of the new law SB-823 in Solano County. The organization is currently circulating an open letter of support, building toward long-term efforts to build equity in any pursuits for juvenile justice reform in Solano County and partnering with organizations to build power for change.
2021 Touro University California Public Health Community Hero Award
Club Stride CEO, Dr. Rhonda Renfro is the recipient of the distinguished Hero Award.
Dr. Renfro was honored for her contributions and commitment to public health and in her own community.
Dr. Rhonda founded Club Stride Inc in 1997 and continues to expand the reach of the organization, which is now providing services in three Bay Area counties.
Travis Credit Union Holiday Spectacular
Club Stride youth, Madison Lindke and Neveah Wyatt join other Solano County youth to discuss the 2020 Holiday Giving Campaign that is being done in collaboration with the Solano County Juvenile Justice Commission to support youth and families engaged with the criminal justice system.
Youth commissioner, Alina Math is the organizer of the Kids in Need, Just Need Some Glee donation drive and has been a member of the JJC for approximately one year. She believes that youth who are in Juvenile Detention Centers deserve to have "...a magical holiday season, just like any other kid."
Club Stride is working alongside Alina and the JJC to raise $1000 or more to give Solano County juveniles the "best holiday season that they have ever had."
She says that by doing this fundraiser, youth will know that they are still loved from those of us on the outside.
Alina has started a Go Fund Me page. To donate search:
Kids in Need Just Need Some Glee
You can also donate on our Holiday Glee page.
Club Stride Partners with Bay Area Urban Debate League
Club Stride announced it's new partnership with Oakland-based organization, BAUDL (Bay Area Urban Debate League). This year, Club Stride and BAUDL will build off the successful work of both organizations to engage the BAUDL community and Solano County youth in a state level criminal justice initiative. BAUDL is part of the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues and has the overall goal to make competitive policy debate available to every public high school student. Together, the organizations will take debate to the California State Capitol, and organize and mobilize action to support criminal justice reform.
To join us, register here on or before October 25, 2020:
Club Stride Summer Interns Support Black Business
For the last several months the COVID-19 pandemic hit black own businesses hard. In fact the number of black business owners in the United States fell more than 40% between February and April according to a study by the New York Federal Reserve. That is more than doubled the decline of white business owners. Traditionally black businesses have had to look to friends and families and to short term and often predatory lenders for access to capital. Meanwhile black own businesses are concentrated in places that COVID-19 has hit the hardest. Black health and black wealth are intertwined. And the only way to change the outlook for black owned businesses where COVID-19 has hit hardest is to directly allocate funds to them. So we want to encourage as many of you as possible to spend more money at black owned businesses to support a more equitable future. This is how we work the diversity of our city in ways that will benefit us all.
Thank you to the awesome black business owners and citizens who are collaborating with projectVATU interns to strengthen our communities and our city. Let's continue to work together. Let's also be sure to support black businesses.
@luldredre @suaveali.e @chelseaaa_1235 @nevaeh__001 @mxddy.21
#Repost @simply.natural.madagascar (with @report.for.insta)
Thank you so much @suaveali.e @luldredre for coming to interview me today! They are apart of an internship with @projectvatu & @clubstride . They are helping to promote more black owned businesses throughout Vallejo. Can’t wait to share with you all the interview and some of the amazing pictures they took!
If you are looking for more all natural skin and hair products, visit our store or check out our website!
Local Photographers support 2020 Grades
For three weeks, local photographers offered free cap and gown portraits to support graduates. "We practice strict social distancing," says Rhonda Renfro, the organization CEO. Photographers like Rhonda Green, owner or Magg Pie Photography and Terrence Vaden, founder of Balanced Frames gave freely of heart and of their professional expertise to uplift over 100 students. Club Stride received inquires from all of the bay area, and intends to make this service available to low income students annually. Next year student photographers participating in Club Stride programs will shadow professional photographers as services are provided to grads.
Free 2020 Cap and Gown Portraits
To support #beUP2020 and uplift 2020 graduating seniors in our city, Club Stride gifted professional cap and gown portraits for graduating students. Instead of this year only being remembered as one of the worlds most devastating moments in history, Club Stride partnered with local photographers to show humanity that rises above it. Let a spirit of unity be what we remember most about this year. The only way from here is up. #beUP2020.
Health Equity in Solano County
Club Stride participants work alongside county representatives to spread awareness about health equity. Students interview Solano County community leaders and employees about health equity issues faced by employees in the county.
The New Girls Eye Broadcast Begins June 27
Girls Eye is a broadcast created to provide an outlet for discussion of issues impacting teenage girls. The overarching purpose of the broadcast is to allow a platform for girls to relate, engage and unite.
The broadcast is the brainchild of Club Stride leader, Azaria Riggins, who will host the show. "Our goal is to highlight the unspoken truth of the teenage girl experience.," says Azaria.
Girls Eye will be a seasonal broadcast. Stay tuned.
2018 Media Crew Cohorts Graduate
This year's media team is ready for the new school year. They have had a great time learning photography this summer and are ready to practice photo journalism at their schools
Club Stride Visits the State Capitol
Club Stride had the honor of speaking with Assemblywoman Shirley Weber and staff during a recent visit to the State Capitol.
4th of July Parade
This is the organizations 4th year in the parade. It just keeps getting better.
"Through the Cracks" Article
Our Youth leadership opinion article was published by the Vallejo Times Herald: "Fighting the Diversity Norm."
Gun Violence Prevention
Club Stride launched it's Social Media campaign in support of AB 931 in 2018. Youth leaders continue to see this as a gun violence issue and are now supporting AB 392 a new version of AB 931..
Vallejo Youth Commission to be Reconstituted
Leaders Troy Sambajon and Daisaku Edwards were mayoral interns for 10 months developing a new structure for the Commission. Club Stride will provide leadership training and help facilitate this transition.
Cal Stride News
Cal Stride News is the official media team on the Caliber Change Academy campus 2018 - 2019 school year.
After school Enrichment
Club Stride provides after school tutoring and enrichment again this year.
Gala & Scholarships
Racial Bias Campaign
Digital Marketing: Solano Youth Voices (SYV)
Solano Youth Voices is a wonderful organization that helps create and write policies so youth get their voices heard. We absolutely love SYV. In fact, we find it a great honor to enter into our second digital marketing contract with youth and staff. Looking forward to the next twelve months. We will be working very close together.
Azaria Riggins Awarded Solano County Student of the Year
Bright and extremely intelligent Azaria Riggins was a shoe in for the award presented to her at the annual Solano County Student of the Year luncheon.
Azaria Riggins is a youth leader and spokesperson for Club Stride, Inc. She has proven to be a committed member of our leadership team who is dependable, engaged and of great integrity. Congratulations Azaria!
Keynote Speakers: Touro University Teen Life Conference
Three fortunate Club Stride youth were chosen to talk with over 300 high school students about diversity and inclusion at the annual Teen Life Conference hosted by Touro University. The 2018 event was fantastic. In addition to speaking, Club Stride leaders facilitated discussions during breakout sessions about conference topics. Each participant did an excellent job. If you or someone you know is interested in participating next year as a speaker, please call our office at 707.731.2726.