On any given day you'll probably find Chris Jones somewhere in Southeast San Diego. Chris spends a lot of his time helping others as a community relations officer with the San Diego Police Department.
But he doesn’t stop when his shift ends.
Except off duty, he's known as Coach Chris; practicing soccer not far from where he grew up, with kids he sees a lot of himself in.
"I grew up in southeast San Diego during a time when gang violence was high, there wasn't a lot of programs. Sports was a big thing, so growing up most of my mentors were coaches," explained Chris.
Those mentors helped Chris see a different path, a future that included college.
He went on to graduate from Cal State Los Angeles and eventually ended up in Atlanta where he became a police officer. But he was drawn back to San Diego, where his roots inspired him to grow his own non-profit, "The Young and Prosperous Foundation."
"I wanted to provide a safe place for kids to be able to express themselves but also to be able to get the resources they need to be successful," said Chris.
The mission of "Young and Prosperous" is to provide resources to youths, promote social justice, equality, personal growth, and educational development to underserved communities.
"A lot of the kids we serve don't have parents that went to college or anybody in their family go to college. They'll be the very first one," Chris said.
The people who work with him say Coach Chris really is, just exceptional.
"He gets the students to show up and they're excited to be a part of the program to connect with each other," said Vanessa Ruiz.
And connect with Coach Chris, knowing he grew up where they did and dealt with some of the same challenges they face. "He is them so he's able to connect with them on ways that a lot of us aren't," said Tamara Muhammad.
"What he does is just inspire them, he gives them hope and a better future. He has serious conversations but in a way that's not intimidating the kids want to connect with him," said Ruiz.
Helping kids find vision, purpose, and a life plan. Kids like Mohammad, on track for college.
"It's Chris. It's Chris. Like one of the best people in the world. He just wants his community to thrive and stuff," Mohammad said.
And Khalid, dreaming of a life in science. "I want to become a robotics engineer and he's helping me work with a robotics engineer," said Khalid.
And Chloe, aspiring to become a first responder herself, “I want to be a paramedic after high school."
All of them, stressing the fact that Coach Chris is always in their corner.
It's why Chris, one of San Diego’s finest, rose to the top of a pool of national candidates up for the national S.J. Dilenschneider Community Award.
An award named after the late Sigmund John Dilenschneider, who was known for his unique ability to raise the bar for all around him.
In constant pursuit of creating a positive impact on the community during his time working with Scripps Howard Newspapers, a company now known as E.W. Scripps, the parent company of ABC 10News.
A lasting legacy and a namesake award to honor the community work being done by people like Chris.
The award includes a donation of $10,000, which the recipient can use however they choose. Chris said he plans to use the money to take students on more college tours to show them exactly what kind of life is possible.
To find out more about The Young and Prosperous Foundation you can go to: https://youngandprosperous.org/
ABOUT THE S.J. DILENSCHNEIDER COMMUNITY AWARD
The award is given annually to recognize an organization, company, individual, or group of individuals who exemplify the spirit of The E.W. Scripps Company, reflect the late S.J. Dilenschneider’s unique ability to raise the bar for all around him, and have a positive impact on the community.
S.J. Dilenschneider devoted most of his career to the Scripps-Howard Newspapers, first at the Cleveland Press then the Columbus Citizen in Ohio. He oversaw the merger of the Citizen and the Ohio State Journal in 1959 into the Citizen-Journal. In the words of one who chronicled Mr. Dilenschneider, he was a good citizen who loved his fellow man, his family, and his newspaper.
The award was created by the Dilenschneider family in honor of S.J. Dilenschneider as an investment in the quality of civility in our nation. The winner of the award will have the following characteristics:
· Community spirit
· Pride in their organization
· Excellence in their work
WHO WAS SIGMUND JOHN DILENSCHNEIDER
He enjoyed a storied career in business and journalism. He started his career in Rockville, Connecticut, moved to Philadelphia, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business in 1928 and worked at the Philadelphia Inquirer.
He then moved to New York and joined the Scripps-Howard flagship staff, overseeing dozens of media properties. He later joined the Cleveland Press and the Columbus Citizen in Ohio. He oversaw the merger of the Citizen and the Ohio State Journal in 1959 into the Citizen-Journal.
In the words of one who chronicled Mr. Dilenschneider, he was a good citizen who loved his fellow man, his family, and his newspaper. (At this writing 18 members of the Dilenschneider family have attended or are attending Notre Dame.)
The E.W. Scripps Company (NASDAQ: SSP) is a diversified media company focused on creating a better-informed world. As the nation’s fourth-largest local TV broadcaster, Scripps serves communities with quality, objective local journalism and operates a portfolio of 61 stations in 41 markets. Scripps’ national networks reach nearly every American through the news outlets Court TV and Newsy and popular entertainment brands ION, Bounce, Grit, Laff and Court TV Mystery. Scripps is the nation’s largest holder of broadcast spectrum. Scripps runs an award-winning investigative reporting newsroom in Washington, D.C., and is the longtime steward of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Founded in 1878, Scripps has held for decades to the motto, “Give light and the people will find their own way.”
About the Scripps Howard Foundation
The Scripps Howard Foundation supports philanthropic causes important to The E.W. Scripps Company (NASDAQ: SSP) and the communities it serves, with a special emphasis on journalism education, excellence in journalism and childhood literacy. At the crossroads of the classroom and the newsroom, the Foundation is a leader in supporting journalism education, scholarships, internships, minority recruitment and development and First Amendment causes. The Scripps Howard Awards stand as one of the industry’s top honors for outstanding journalism and the Foundation’s annual “If You Give a Child a Book …” childhood literacy campaign has distributed more than 500,000 new books to children in need across the nation since 2017. In support of its mission to create a better-informed world, the Foundation also partners with Scripps brands to create awareness of local issues and support impactful organizations to drive solutions that help build thriving communities.