Outreach: Community Service

Leadership Public Schools at Berkeley Ironworks

This winter, Shawn Benjamin brought 10 students to Berkeley Ironworks to try out climbing for the first time. Ms. Benjamin is the Principle at Leadership Public Schools in Richmond, a tuition-free public charter high school dedicated to preparing 100% of their graduating students for success in college and leadership in their communities. "99% of our students live at our below the poverty level and 100% are students of color," said Benjamin. The Berkeley Ironworks staff worked with Ms. Benjamin to allow the kids to give climbing a try without the event being cost prohibitive. It went off without a hitch - and everyone from the climbers to the staff had a great time.

Here is Ms. Benjamin's testimonial of the event.

Our climbing day was incredible! The students loved having the responsibility of belaying each other and feeling like they could be trusted in this way. They all were also surprised by their own physical strength in this activity, sometimes feeling amazed at what they had accomplished and other times being surprised by feeling challenged. Overall, this activity enabled students to feel closer to each other and to me. Thanks for the opportunity! We could not have done it without your financial support.

Leadership Public Schools

BBBS at Dogpatch Boulders

LB Julian Pike-Smith BB Gere GervisWe've got exciting news for our members involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters! 

Touchstone Climbing and Big Brothers Big Sisters Bay Area are happy to announce a partnership that will make it easier for volunteers to bring kids climbing. Active Littles are now FREE on their Big Brother or Sisters Touchstone Climbing membership. This means that if you are a Big Brother or Sister, you can bring your little climbing as often as you'd like, and still have your guest passes left over for friends or family.

Until recently, Big Brothers and Big sisters could use one of their two free monthly guest passes to bring their Littles climbing. "But we wanted to do more!" said Membership Services Director Monica Arranda who helped to launch the program. >

If you are part of BBBS, bring your Little to the gym along with your active membership cards, and we'll sign them up as a free member on your account. The next time the two of you come climbing, check-in will be fast and simple.

Rob, a Touchstone Climbing member, is also a mentor with BBBS. To share one of his own passions with his 'little,' Patrick, he started taking him climbing. "He has loved climbing, and started asking me every week if we can go." 

"I'm so excited for this opportunity to bring him more often!" said Rob. "And so is Patrick." 

LB Derrick Nelson BB Bill Oconnor 3On Sunday, October 12th, Dogpatch Boulders hosted a Meet Up to kick off the new program. 9 Big Brothers and 9 Little Brothers came to the gym and had a great time. 

"Bringing kids to the climbing gym is such a phenomenal bonding experience," said Dogpatch Boulders manager Justin Alarcon. "People tend to break out of their shells when they are moving, challenging themselves, and toping out boulders together!"

Founded in California in 1958, BBBS Bay Area serves Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara Counties. Since 1958 they have carefully matched over 11,000 children with a mentor and provided ongoing support and guidance to ensure optimum outcomes. They currently serve about 1,000 children each year and have set a goal bumping that number up to 2,000 children yearly by 2018. Children between the ages of 6 and 16 and they are eligible to stay in the program until graduation at 18.

"Male mentors are currently needed in Fresno, the East Bay, South Bay and the Peninsula,' said Match Support Specialist Hannah Rudsten. There is a pressing need for healthy male role models to be matched with enrolled boys in these areas. According to their website, 700 at-risk children are currently on the waiting list, and 82% are boys.

LB Derrick Nelson BB Bill Oconnor 2If there's one thing that a climbing gym has plenty of, it's eligible bros! If you're interesting in becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister, find out more about volunteering!

The benefits of mentorship are undeniable. Surveys of mentors and parents/guardians whose Little had been matched 12 months or more reported the following results:

  • 100% improved GPA’s if they were struggling in school
  • 96% improved their ability to avoid using physical violence
  • 92% improved self-confidence
  • 85% improved peer relationships
  • 81% improved attitudes towards school
  • 74% improved their outlook for the future
  • 72% increased their trust in adults to help with problems

We're happy to find more ways to involve underserved youth in our neighborhoods in climbing and a healthy lifestyle. Big thanks to BBBS for working with us to give volunteers an easy way to bring their kids to the gym to share the joys of climbing! 








City of Dreams at Berkeley Ironworks

City of Dreams is a San Francisco non-profit dedicated to helping youth living in low-income housing build brighter futures through mentorship and youth development. The organization works to 'challenge young people to reach their highest potential through Experiential Learning. The events call for youth to solve problems, overcome fears, work as a team, try new things, explore creativity, embrace support, and identify their options,' ...which sounds a lot like climbing! On Saturday, October 11th, Berkeley Ironworks hosted a group of children and their mentors. Here is what they had to say about their experience rock climbing at BIW!

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"City of Dreams' visit to Berkeley Ironworks was one of our best experiential learning events of the year! Almost every Saturday of the year, we take our youth aged 9-17 on experiential learning events with our mentors. Each event is focused upon one of twelve life values and our lesson for our visit to Berkeley Ironworks was "trust." It was a very powerful experience for our youth to push against their fears and limits to their self-confidence on the walls while also learning to trust their belayers.

Our mentors were able to belay the children thanks to the patient, passionate, and culturally competent staff at Berkeley Ironworks. This experience supports the argument that rock climbing can have a meaningful impact on our youths' ability to develop self-confidence and trust in others. We will definitely do this trip again next year with Berkeley Ironworks.

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Building trust with our belayers and with ourselves is something we all deal with while climbing. We're so glad to be able to host City of Dreams so they could push their limits and find success on the rock wall! Thanks to the staff and mentors for creating such a positive environment! 

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Back on My Feet at LA Boulders

unnamed-11LA Boulders recently had the pleasure of hosting Back on My Feet, an organization that helps individuals struggling with addiction and homelessness get back on their feet through running.

Back on My Feet (BoMF) is a national for-purpose 501(c)3 organization that uses running to help those experiencing homelessness change the way they see themselves so they can make real change in their lives that results in employment and independent living. The organization’s mission is not to create runners within the homeless population, but to use running to create self-sufficiency in the lives of those experiencing homelessness. The program’s success is measured by how many members obtaining independence through employment, job training and housing. Through dedication and hard work, Residential Members (those experiencing homelessness) earn the opportunity to create a new road for themselves. Running leads to personal transformation and dedication to the program leads to access to training, employment and housing resources. Through community and corporate support, the program strives to change the perception of homelessness. - BoMF

Social Coordinator Melissa Arcaro runs with a group out of the Union Rescue Mission in Skid Row. They meet Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings and run for an hour. "Through running, the members gain confidence and engage in a healthy activity that helps promote positive habits into their lifestyles," said Arcaro.

Melissa is always looking for unique physical activities to help strengthen their team, which is why she turned to LA Boulders for a fun filled and active group event. Here at the LA.B, we're always happy to introduce new climbers to the wonderful world of bouldering, especially when they have such a noble mission and commitment to staying active and healthy.

unnamed-13"We all had such a great time and it was exactly the team building experience that we were looking for. Being able to spend time with each other outside of our normal runs doing something that is fun, active, and challenging is such a treat," Melissa said. "I personally had way more fun than I had anticipated. I live right up the street from you all and I'm bringing three friends in this week!"

"The group had a great attitude and they were all ready and willing to try new things," said staffer Roxy. "It's great to see a group of adults challenge themselves like that!"




Options For Youth visit Pipeworks

Sacramento Pipeworks has supported “Options For Youth” - a community group giving kids a second chance at education - for many years now. We appreciate their values and the work they do – and are proud to host them periodically at Sacramento Pipeworks.

From its inception, OFY’s mission has been to recover students who have dropped out of traditional schools or have fallen behind in credits and are at risk of failing. This highly successful program has established a track record of achievement in strengthening student performance. OFY student test scores and graduation rates consistently rank equal to, or above, those of comparable schools.

Here's what an OFY lead teacher had to say about the effect climbing has had on his kids.

Options For Youth

Our students had an awesome time last Friday! All of the students were very excited after the climbing and had a really good time. Several of the students had a great deal of anxiety prior to the event either from a fear of heights or fear of ridicule and they all overcame their fears. Every single student made it up at least one climb and several made it up challenging climbs. One student who almost did not participate in the Outdoor Experience program because of climbing, he is a big kid who is scared of heights and ridicule, and he couldn’t hold back the smirk at the end of the day. He was clearly very proud of himself!

The entire North Highlands Center was polled on the way home and asked to rate the day from a 5.1 to a 5.10 and two students rated it a 5.9, two a 5.10. Here is some of the feedback we heard:

 “Climbing is cool because it forces me to get over one of my biggest fear...heights. I like to challenge myself and I feel safe doing it there.” – Gabe

“This is one of the first activities like this that I have been good at. I never thought I would get up some of these but I did it. I climbed a 5.10b and most of the boys can’t do that. It is fun.” – Cheyenne

“I like that we don’t have to drive all the way to Tahoe to experience something new. It is just as cool as anything we have done in Tahoe and it is right here. I never knew you could do things like this.” – Miranda.

One of our Carmichael students who is a very shy kid and afraid of heights did not want to climb at all. I brought him over to the bouldering section and after he saw me and a few other students give it a shot he decided to jump in. He was a natural. He flew up the first 4 routes he tried and by the end of the day was challenging other students to new routes. I asked him if he had fun once we got back to the gym and he said, “That was awesome! I think I am going to be really sore though...”

The students really love the climbing! The kids are always so positive about the climbing and are really starting to get excited about their progress. We greatly appreciate your willingness to have our students climb there and hope we can continue doing so next year.

Thanks again for supporting our program!

Brad Astin

Lead Teacher

Options For Youth



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