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Our mission is to bring the community together to reduce violence, promote peace, and create safer environments for the maximum development of children and young adults at risk in their lives.
The Communities In Schools of the San Fernando Valley/Greater Los Angeles vision is "NO MOTHERS CRYING, NO BABIES DYING". As a world champion in martial arts and kickboxing, CIS Executive Director, Blinky Rodriguez has a long history of working with youth. The work became personal in 1990 when Blinky himself fell victim to gang violence. Sonny, his 16-year-old son was killed in a drive-by shooting. In court, Blinky met the three killers face-to-face, not for retribution, but to forgive them. Through a series of meetings, he subsequently negotiated a truce, called The Valley Unity Peace Treaty, which was signed by over 75 gangs with over 1,000 members. The treaty successfully reduced gang-related deaths from 52 to 2. The peace treaty project became CIS San Fernando Valley, a non-profit organization in 1994. Blinky approached long-time friend Bobby Arias, then Southwest Regional Director for Communities In Schools, Inc., the nations largest drop-out prevention organization, and solicited his assistance in developing an "integrated service delivery strategy" for gang youth. Since the tragedy of Sonny's death, Blinky and Bobby have dedicated their lives to ending gang violence and helping gang youth transform their lives. Numerous national and international leaders including Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Dr. Jane Goodall, Al Gore and Barbara Boxer have recognized the work of Blinky and CIS. CIS violence prevention and intervention practices have been replicated in the USA, Germany, Tanzania, England and South Africa. In 1998, Blinky received the Medaille d'Excellence, presented in Switzerland to only 14 people worldwide in conjunction with the 50 th anniversary of the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Blinky has earned over eighty-three awards for his work. Over 120 articles have been written about CIS. One such article documented how CIS assists families who fall victim to gang violence, sometimes even providing burial plots. Over 45 plots have been donated to CIS and sadly we have used far too many of them. The following is a sample of our accomplishments:
- Helped reduce gang-related deaths from 52 to 2 over two years
- Connected over 1300 youths with mentors
- Conducted over 45 Peace Rallies/Community Events with over 29,000 attendees
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