Our mission is to promote the wellness of families and children in south Phoenix by supporting and leveraging the efforts of a broad range of organizations with a shared vision of improving the natural, built, and social environments. We do this through community engagement in leadership, advocacy, programs, services, and activities within and across the dimensions of wellness.
What We Do
Established in March 2012, Cultivate South Phoenix (CUSP) is a broad-based coalition of agencies collaborating to address health and wellness concerns in south Phoenix, including high levels of childhood obesity and indications of low intake of fruits and vegetables among residents. In response, CUSP has leased a 20-acre parcel of land in south Phoenix to establish a community-based farm, known as Spaces of Opportunity. Various agencies, including non-profit organizations, schools, and local farmers are in the process of growing fresh produce on this land for a variety of purposes: family and neighborhood consumption, distribution to schools, day care centers, and senior centers, and sales to local food banks, community health centers, local restaurants, and markets.
The Cultivate South Phoenix (CUSP) Steering Committee includes representatives of organizations with significant experience working in the community through community-based organizations, education systems, and governmental organizations. If you are interested in joining the CUSP Steering Committee please contact the current CUSP convener, Lorraine Moya Salas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lorraine Moya Salas
CUSP Convener; Spaces Evaluation Coordinator
Dr. Lorraine Moya Salas is the Executive Director of Unlimited Potential. In this capacity, she works to promote the health, education, and empowerment of Latino linguistically isolated families. Lorraine is an Arizona native and has been engaged in culturally grounded anti-oppressive social work practice for more than 30 years. She understands that empowerment necessitates the creation of environments that foster wellness. Towards this end, she works collectively with other likeminded organizations and community members to promote social and economic justice in Arizona. Lorraine is proud to serve as the current convener of Cultivate South Phoenix.
Nicolas de la Fuente
Nicolas de la Fuente seeks to develop a global reality where opportunities trump disparities. As a non-profit director, convener and teacher, Nicolas has never been one to shy away from difficult conversations about community voice and unbalanced power dynamics. For the past 8 years Nicolas has worked in three different countries which gave him a deep understanding of abject poverty and the trickledown effect of U.S. systems on global disparities. For that reason, Nicolas is excited to be working on the construction of a new food system in the desert southwest with a focus on local community, local soil and local business. The Spaces of Opportunity initiative seeks to develop a thriving community food hub in south Phoenix with the main goal of keeping the food in the immediate community and challenging the notion that good food grown in impoverished areas cannot be sold in impoverished areas.
Spaces Community Garden Coordinator
Darren Chapman is a community pro-activist who has committed his life to helping people. He is Founder and CEO of TigerMountain Foundation (a.k.a. TMF), which has implemented Empowerment Initiatives to uplift communities and eliminate blight. TMF’s initiatives are community garden / landscaping development, audio, visual and performance art, community service and volunteerism. The gardens promote healthy living by growing lush-gardens and feeding the community. TMF’s Asset Based Community Development model was developed with the thought of urban renewal and restoration of communities. Participants who stay engaged are motivated to keep positive and will develop their individual very important assets. Darren’s motto is to change one mind and attitude at a time, encouraging all who have been touched to pay it forward, which will undoubtedly make the immediate community and the world a better place to live. Darren currently resides and works in the Phoenix Metropolitan area.
Spaces Farming Coordinator
John Wann served 22 years as principal of Valley View Elementary School, a K-8 public school, in the spirit of a bilingual community organizer with extensive experience in creating spaces and programs that honor what we know about human learning theory. Valley View was/is known for its project based teaching and learning framework, its dual language program, and as the arts education leader in the district. The school reached an agreement in 2010 with the local power company to use 7 acres of orchard and farm as an agricultural learning lab and community garden. As an extension of this work, John became the founding director of the Orchard Community Learning Center (OCLC) in February of 2011 and in June of the same year, resigned from the principalship to dedicate his full-time efforts to the OCLC’s wellness, educational, and food justice mission.
CUSP Fund Development Coordinator
Doug Hirano, MPH, is currently Principal and Owner of Hirano and Associates, LLC, a health consulting firm. He is an epidemiologist by training and has worked for a variety of public health and health care organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, the Arizona Department of Health Services, Mountain Park Health Center, and the Asian Pacific Community in Action. He is a past president of the Arizona Public Health Association and past chair of the MIHS Family Health Centers Governing Council and has served on numerous community-based coalitions, boards and committees. In 2012, he was selected as a Virginia G. Piper Fellow and in that same year received the Community Leadership Award from the ASU Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center.
CUSP Administrative Coordinator
Isabel Garcia, MSW, was born and raised in Phoenix, AZ to Mexican, immigrant parents. She was the first in her family to graduate with a four-year degree, and most recently to receive a Master’s degree. She is currently working at the Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy, a research unit at Arizona State University that seeks to improve policies, practices, and implementation of programs that support people affected by behavioral health disorders. Isabel hopes to gain experience in program evaluation and social science research in order to matriculate into a doctoral program in justice studies. Isabel’s research interests include immigration, particularly biculturalism among Latino immigrants and its relation to health. Isabel is also a board member at Unlimited Potential, where she seeks to contribute to the well-being and success of Latino families in South Phoenix. Isabel is excited to be a part of Cultivate South Phoenix, and views its initiatives as opportunities for Latino immigrants and their families to integrate into their communities while maintaining roots to their cultures of origin.
Spaces Marketing Coordinator
Jesse Davenport grew up in Mesa, AZ and is proud to still be learning and building relationships close to home. As a first-generation college student at Arizona State, Jesse received a formal degree in justice studies as well as a wealth of political education and experience from the local migrant rights movement. She is committed to building power with people most impacted by racism and classism, while analyzing her own privileges and supporting others to do the same. As such, she has been part of Phoenix Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), a collective working to organize white communities for racial justice, for the past five years. Jesse also works for University of Arizona and Arizona State University in two nontraditional education programs. At the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension in Maricopa County, she coordinates training to support beginning farmers in growing and selling food to people with low-income. At Arizona State University, she provides administrative assistance for The College Program, an educational partnership with and for women who are incarcerated.
Mary Mitchell serves in the role of Senior Associate, Community Engagement for Girl Scouts—Arizona Cactus-Pine Council. GSACPC has one of its largest assets resting into the base of South Mountain, a beautiful 15-acre camp property, soon to be known as the GSACPC Leadership Center for Women and Girls. Mary has worked for GSACPC for 17 years holding various roles in the area of fund development, finance and community engagement. She has lived in the South Phoenix community for over 20 years. She brings with her a love for the community and the families that live there, as well as knowledge and skills related to community-building, collaborative practices, strategic framework development, and team-oriented practices.
Richard Crews is a Founding Partner of the Radicle Solutions Group, a company purposed to strengthen and cultivate the capacity within organizations to maximize their impact. His greatest desire is to be an instrument in unlocking the space within individuals and organizations to operate on purpose and authenticity. Richard’s roots are centered in faith-based community collaboration and a systems-centered lens framed in racial equity and social justice. Richard most recently served as the Community Impact Manager of Thriving Together for Valley of the Sun United Way, a birth-to-career initiative to ensure that all children, youth, and young adults in the Phoenix Urban Core realize their full potential in school, career, and life. Richard is also an Alliance Fellow with St. Luke’s Health Initiatives. He has been privileged to speak on numerous panels and facilitate workshops across the country addressing issues pertaining to collective impact, race power and privilege, and the many challenges facing schools and communities locally and beyond. Above all, Richard holds 2 things closest to his heart: his family, and working in solidarity with historically disenfranchised communities.