Month: September 2015

Adobe, Kaiser Permanente, Pinger and SunPower Sponsor San Jose Gateways Project


CONTACT: Maureen Damrel

San Jose Project Manager, Downtown Streets Team        

PH: (408) 571-9140| Email: 


SAN JOSE, CALIF. — Adobe, Kaiser Permanente South Bay, Pinger and SunPower are each sponsoring the beautification of a gateway, or freeway ramp, into downtown San Jose, a project headed by San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo in an effort to not only make downtown San Jose a welcoming place, but to also help homeless people rebuild their lives. Mayor Liccardo will speak at the press event taking place Monday, September 21 from 12-1 p.m. at Highway 87 underpass on West San Fernando Street.

The Gateways Project, a partnership between nonprofit Downtown Streets Team (DST) and the City of San Jose, is more than a beautification project. It’s also about sharing social responsibility in the fight to end homelessness. These new sponsors join Ernst & Young LLP, Wells Fargo and TiVo – the original three companies that sponsored gateways in October of last year, when the project launched.

“By engaging with homeless residing in our city,” stated Mayor Liccardo, “we are able to effectively employ the proven ‘work-first’ model by asking individuals to clean up the very streets they live on. Once engaged in this work, Streets Team offers an opportunity for support, housing, and a path to future employment.”

Each gateway is marked by a bright blue sign, which can be spotted at the on ramps. From 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 1 – 5 p.m. homeless volunteers can be easily spotted in downtown San Jose wearing their bright yellow DST shirts. At first glance many people think they are court ordered to clean – but they are volunteers who have made the choice to work hard to rebuild their lives, while making a positive impact on their community.

DST provides the resources for homeless people to reach their goals – including help with finding housing and employment. The nonprofit builds partnerships with cities to beautify neighborhoods, creeks and downtown streets and the homeless men and women volunteer on these projects. In return they receive a basic needs stipend, case management and employment resources. DST’s model is rebuilding lives while also beautifying the community. To date the nonprofit has housed 454 homeless and found permanent employment for 363 people. DST also serves Palo Alto, San Rafael and Sunnyvale, with more cities to come.


About Downtown Streets Team: In 2005 the Palo Alto Business Improvement District conducted a survey of local business owners to determine the biggest issues facing downtown businesses. The group identified cleanliness and homelessness as the most pressing challenges. Downtown Streets Team (DST) emerged as result of the collaboration of local businesses, law enforcement, the Palo Alto Downtown Business and Professional Association and community leaders striving to make Palo Alto a better place to live and work. The model is simple: provide homeless and low-income men and women with the resources they need to rebuild their lives.  First, they join one of our teams and begin working collaboratively on beautification projects.  Meanwhile Team Members work together with our case management and employment services to find housing and a job. In 2011, DST expanded to serve the Coyote Creek corridor in San Jose and in 2012, launched a new project in collaboration with the City of Sunnyvale and Sunnyvale Community Services. In 2013, DST expanded to San Rafael. With franchisees elsewhere in California and Florida, and inquires from all over the country, DST is positioned to become a national solution to help end homelessness and restore dignity for those most in need. To learn more about the Downtown Streets Team or to make a donation, please visit


San Jose Mayor Sam Riccardo plants succulents with Downtown Streets Team Executive Director Eileen Richardson

San Jose Mayor Sam Riccardo plants succulents with Downtown Streets Team Executive Director Eileen Richardson

San Jose District 3 Councilmember Raul Peralez speaks about the Gateway Project

San Jose District 3 Councilmember Raul Peralez speaks about the Gateway Project

Enthusiastic Ernst & Young LLC employees take a moment to snap a selfie!

Enthusiastic Ernst & Young LLC employees take a moment to snap a selfie!







Collaborative Litter Cleanup Effort in San José Wins Top Award

South Bay partnership with thousands of volunteers removed 100 tons of trash from creeks

For Immediate Release 
September 21, 2015

Jennie Loft, Public Information Manager
Office Phone: (408) 535-8554

Collaborative Litter Cleanup Effort in San José Wins Top Award

South Bay partnership with thousands of volunteers removed 100 tons of trash from creeks

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Working with thousands of volunteers who helped to remove more than 100 tons of litter from South Bay waterways just in the past year, the City of San José and eight other partners in the South Bay Creeks Collaborative have significantly improved the health of creeks in Santa Clara Valley.

In recognition for this achievement, the Collaborative received the Outstanding Environmental Project award last Friday at the 12th Biennial “State of the San Francisco Estuary” conference ( A total of six projects were honored that showcased the value of partnerships in making remarkable contributions to the health and resilience of the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary.

The South Bay Creeks Collaborative includes the City of San José, CommUniverCity, Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful, Friends of Los Gatos Creek, Friends of Guadalupe River, Downtown Streets Team, San José Conservation Corps, San José State University and Clean Creeks, Healthy Communities.

“The success of this collaborative underscores that the health of our creeks is important to everyone in our community, and everyone can help,” said Kerrie Romanow, San José Environmental Services Director. “Litter is a huge challenge in the Bay Area, but we’ve demonstrated that we can make a real difference by working as a team.”

“Together we have worked hard to improve our South Bay creeks,” said Deb Kramer, Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful Program Manager. “I feel so privileged to be in such amazing company and to work towards a common goal that benefits our entire community.”

The South Bay Creeks Collaborative has engaged thousands of volunteers from neighborhoods, corporations, community groups, and schools to clean up South Bay creeks. More than 100 tons of trash have been removed from South Bay creeks in fiscal year 2014-2015.

During extensive creek cleanups, volunteers removed automobile batteries, litter, tires, shopping carts, clothing, and building materials. The removal of these items contributes to cleaner creeks and a healthier San Francisco Bay for South Bay residents and wildlife.

Student volunteers from San José State University have brought their experience from the creek cleanups back into the classroom. They developed articles and videos as well as organized and hosted a conference devoted to clean creeks, called the “Coyote Creek Howl.”

The Collaborative also organized the painting of the Coyote Creek mural at Olinder Community Center, as well as the creation of the watershed-themed Art Walk through Downtown San José that features five public utility boxes.

Major funding for the Collaborative came from the City of San José, Santa Clara Valley Water District, and a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

About San José Environmental Services Department (ESD) and San José Green Vision
San José, Capital of Silicon Valley, is the largest city in Northern California and the 10th largest city in the nation. The San José Environmental Services Department ( manages garbage and recycling services; watershed protection and pollution prevention; municipal drinking water and recycled water; community sustainability initiatives; and the San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility. ESD’s programs and initiatives align with the San José Green Vision (, a long-term plan to create a sustainable future for our community.
Follow us on Facebook: SJEnvironment, Twitter: @SJEnvironment, Instagram: @SJEnvironment.
Notifications: Receive news, events, and announcements at Notify Me (; select keyword Environment and choose from the topics list.

The South Bay Creeks Collaborative partners:

San José Environmental Services Department:

Clean Creeks, Healthy Communities:


Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful: 

Friends of Los Gatos Creek:

Friends of Guadalupe River:

Downtown Streets Team:

San José Conservation Corps:

San José State University:



This news release is available online at

Students in Service Project Kicks Off!

Every Friday morning during the month of September a group of 8th grade students from Yavneh Day School will join our a San Jose Team Members to beautify our creeks and neighborhoods.

We have worked closely with Yavneh over the years and are always impressed with their hands-on approach to education, and how thoughtful they are with projects, giving their students a unique and rewarding experience through partnering with nonprofits and other socially conscious companies.  Our latest project with them, Students in Service (#StudentsInService), is something we hope to replicate with other schools.


Follow the Students’ Journey

During this project, students will snap photos and write about their experiences volunteering with our homeless folks, while also cleaning up the environment.


Check out the first photos and stories submitted by the students so far and follow the journey #StudentsInService



Reflection #1

By Lily, an 8th grader at Yavneh Day School

On Friday September 11, my 8th grade class had the privilege of being the first kids in this age group to work along side volunteers of Downtown Streets Team. We split up into two groups as we started on our adventure to clean the streets. It was an amazing experience. Every time I found a piece of trash and put it in my bag, I just had  to smile because of the joy and happiness inside me; since when did picking up trash become something that felt so good?
The DST members showed their smarts the second we met them. My friends and I were impressed with the  creative ways they did what they had to do. For example, it was genius to put a stick in the lip of the garbage bag so that it will stay open!  My favorite part of volunteering with the team was hearing my amazing group leader’s stories. It was really scary to realize how fast one can go from shopping at Neiman Marcus to being homeless alongside your husband and not being able to pay your pile of your hospital bills.

Volunteering with DST was an eye opening and amazing experience and I am so excited to do it again next Friday!

Reflection #2

by Amanda, an 8th grader at Yavneh Day School

I know this sounds weird, but picking up trash is a lot of fun. It gave me a chance to connect with the community a little more. I got to hang out with friends, both old and new, as we helped around a less glamorous part of my own neighborhood (near Naglee Park). Okay, I admit, it was kind of gross, (especially when we found the dead bird), but that was outweighed by how great it was to do good things with good people.