EGP’s Core Values Will Live On

February 1, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Everything comes to an end, the saying goes. And I guess that’s true. But in thinking back to the days I was a fresh-out-of-college reporter working for Eastern Group Publications, there are some things about this newspaper chain — and how it was run by the Sanchez family— that I hope don’t ever end.

Raul Vasquez grew up in Boyle Heights in an immigrant family, and earned a degree in history from UC Santa Cruz before working as a writer and assistant editor for Eastern Group Publications in the early 2000s. He now lives in Milwaukee with his family and continues to work in the communications field.

If this really turns out to be the final issue of Eastern Group after 72 years of consecutive publishing, what should live on are the core values that drove its editorial direction since 1979, when Dolores Sanchez bought it.

Civility. Giving a voice to the voiceless. Fairness. Protecting children and the elderly. Truth. These are just some of the core values that drove how Eastern Group was run as a company, and what it stood for editorially. I know because from 2000 to 2004, I formed part of the editorial staff.

To get an insight into the mind of Owner and Publisher Dolores Sanchez, you would just have to read the paper’s editorial page.

On Wednesdays (deadline day), us reporters and designers were running around like chickens without heads trying to wrap up our sections. Meanwhile, Dolores sat in the quiet of her office, with her reading glasses hanging over her nose, as she wrote the week’s editorial, which would run at the top of page 2.

Whether it was standing up for the rights of children to have a good education, shedding light on the plight of the city’s homeless, demanding transparent and clean government from local officials, pleading for a sensible resolution to the immigration issue, or endorsing candidates for an upcoming local election — you could always be sure that Dolores completed the editorial column with the utmost seriousness and professionalism.

“One of the responsibilities a newspaper must take seriously is the endorsement of candidates for public office,” she wrote in one editorial column in November 2001. “It’s at times an uncomfortable position to be in, since oftentimes those we do not endorse are candidates we have worked with in the past and are good people…”

Decisions needed to be made, however, and they needed to be made for the good of the community, not one or two individuals. This idea permeated throughout the pages of the newspaper, decade after decade.

The masthead in the days I worked for Eastern Group carried the words of Abraham Lincoln: “That government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” As it happened, the events on the morning of September 11, 2001, shook the country to its core, and more than any other event, challenged the essence of Lincoln’s words.

As I take a fresh look at Dolores’ editorial from September 13, 2001, I am reminded of the tempered wisdom that drove the newspaper forward.

“It would be simple but wrong for us to degenerate into a country seeking revenge against innocent people because of their color, religion or ethnicity; only then can these terrorists claim victory over us,” the editorial stated. “For ourselves, we at Eastern Group Publications have decided to continue with publishing our special 16 de Septiembre edition as a testimony to the love of independence and respect for the rights of others this day commemorates, and as a tribute to those who lost their lives or loved ones in Tuesday’s despicable acts.”

Dolores and her husband, Associate Publisher Jonathan Sanchez, believed that a free press was one of the pillars of a fair and democratic society. As a reporter, you could tackle just about any newsworthy subject so long as you did it fairly and accurately.

On a personal level, Eastern Group was the first newspaper to give me a regular writing job. I was extremely lucky because it allowed me to cover the community and region I grew up in. During those years, I discovered wonderful things about my community I would never have known otherwise, and it allowed me to explore and tackle some of the ills I saw as well.

Today, I no longer write for a newspaper, and I live far away from California. While I’m saddened to know that other young and aspiring journalists won’t have the opportunity I had, I also know that as long as I live, and wherever it is that I do write, I will carry forward the core values I learned at Eastern Group Publications, so that these may live on.

Raul Vasquez grew up in Boyle Heights in an immigrant family, and earned a degree in history from UC Santa Cruz before working as a writer and assistant editor for Eastern Group Publications in the early 2000s. He now lives in Milwaukee with his family and continues to work in the communications field.

Losing the Voice of the Southeast

February 1, 2018 by · 2 Comments 

Gregory Arroyo serves as editorial director for Bobit Business Media, a business-to-business media company founded in 1961.© Eric Tillotson

It was nearly 20 years ago that we had our last meaningful conversation. I was offered an opportunity I had worked so hard for over the nearly two years I served as a reporter for Eastern Group Publications, and my former boss, EGP Publisher Dolores Sanchez, had a little reality to deliver to this starry-eyed reporter.

See, I was part of the team of reporters who launched the Los Angeles Times’ Montebello edition of its Our Times community news section in September 1998. Dolores, however, warned that such ventures usually have two years to succeed. I left the Montebello Our Times in August 2000, about a month before it was shuttered by the Tribune Co.

Yes, Dolores, I was listening. In fact, I always listened, especially since EGP had done for me what it had done for so many young journalists since the newspaper chain launched in 1979, and that’s give me a chance to be the voice of the Eastside. And I took the role to heart. In fact, if the phones weren’t ringing when the newspaper landed in driveways Thursday morning, I hadn’t done my job.

Yeah, I had a knack for putting myself and the newspaper in the middle of some controversy, whether it was the countless and wasteful recall elections I covered or that two-hour debate the Commerce City Council had one night over whether to serve hot dogs at a “fireside chat” event. Let’s just say there are plenty of former city, school district, and, yes, even public safety officials who were glad to see my byline fade away.

To the individuals behind the scandal that’s plagued the Montebello Unified School District in recent years, just be glad you never knew me.

In college, I asked a political science professor about whether corruption was prevalent at the highest levels of government. He said “No,” adding that it’s local government where corruption thrives due to the lack of checks and balances. And that’s why this third-generation “Montebelloan” took his role as a reporter so seriously.

But the pendulum did swing the other way. By that, I mean I was just as passionate about the good going on in the communities I served.

There was the night I was on stage inside an Olvera Street restaurant when then-Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante — the first Latino elected to statewide office in California in more than 120 years — handed the speaker’s gavel to then-California Assemblyman Antonio Villaraigosa, making him the first Speaker of the Assembly from Los Angeles in 25 years.

There was the Theodore Roosevelt High School teacher who created a program designed to help promising students gain acceptance to Ivy League schools. There was graduation day at Montebello High School, when I watched proud parents embracing their sons and daughters. And I’ll never forget consoling that senior high school football player who realized he had just played his last game.

And this is what will be missed when EGP closes its doors this week. Thank you, Dolores and Jonathan [Sanchez], for giving a community a voice and young journalists like I once was a chance to develop theirs.


Gregory Arroyo serves as editorial director for Bobit Business Media, a business-to-business media company founded in 1961.

Dolores Mission Breaks Ground on Expansion

August 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Dolores Mission on Gless Street in Boyle Heights is more than just a church and elementary school, it’s a long time institution that serves as a center of community activism on issues ranging from crime and environmental justice, as well as education and spirituality.

Homeboy Industries, a nonprofit group that helps gangs members transition out of the life through job training and other resources, was started at Dolores Mission. Last week, the campus was the launching point for a peace march during the annual observance of National Night Out.

At its core, Dolores Mission is dedicated to improving outcomes for the area’s low-income children. On Monday, the Catholic school broke ground on a new 6,500 sq. ft., two-story school facility, the parish’s pastor, Father Ted Gabrielli, said will open new opportunities to serve more students and lift more families out of poverty.

Students, teachers and friends of Dolores Mission in Boyle Heights help break ground on a new facility to house more students. Los Angeles council man Jose Huizar and Assemblyman Miguel Santiago were among those taking part in the ceremony. (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

Students, teachers and friends of Dolores Mission in Boyle Heights help break ground on a new facility to house more students. Los Angeles council man Jose Huizar and Assemblyman Miguel Santiago were among those taking part in the ceremony. (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

“…This building project becomes a beacon of hope” for the communities we walk with in good times and bad, Gabrielli said during a groundbreaking ceremony attended by members of the parish, students and their families, and local elected officials.

The parish and TK (transitional kindergarten) through 8th grade school is operated by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). The school primarily serves families living in the Maravilla, Ramona Gardens and Pico Gardens housing projects that surround the campus. Of those families, nearly 70 percent earn less than $24,000 a year and 94 percent of students qualify for a free or reduced breakfast and lunch program.

The expansion allows the school to open new classrooms for early education. Plans include two new classrooms for transitional kindergarten and kindergarten. There are also talks about a playground, meeting space for parents and youth groups and office space for program administrators. The added space will allow the school to increase enrollment from 250 to 300 students.

“It underlines our belief in the children of this community,” Gabrielli said about the decision to enlarge the school facility. “We are committed to providing a quality education that not only transforms young people’s, but their families also.”

Phase 2 of the project will include renovation of the existing school building to create a library, a music classroom, and adding more technology into each classroom.

“We are serving more children in our community,” Gabrielli said. “It brings good news and hope to more families.”

Program Helps East L.A. Students Plan for Academic Future

May 29, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

As the end of the school year and summer vacation approaches, some high school students are starting to plan what to do during their free time.

In East Los Angeles, members of United Students, a program of the education-based nonprofit InnerCity Struggle, are preparing to attend the Media Justice Academy in July.

United Students, is a student-organized program that provides information and resources to low-income youth from Theodore Roosevelt, James A. Garfield, Woodrow Wilson, Abraham Lincoln, Esteban E. Torres and Mendez High Schools in East L.A.

According to their website, the goal is to “organize high school students build student power and develop young leaders with the aim of transforming the quality of public education in the Eastside.”

Adriana Meza, 16, is in the 10th grade at Lincoln and Stephanie Orea, 18, is a senior at Torres High School, and both of the students told EGP they feel more motivated to go to college after attending a two-day field trip in late April to the Bay Area in Northern California as part of a United Students program that took 36 students from the East L.A. area, including Meza and Orea to visit the University of California at Berkeley, Cal State University East Bay and St Mary’s College.

Thirty-six East L.A. students visited three universities in the Bay Area and obtained information about classes and tuition. (Courtesy of InnerCity Struggle)

Thirty-six East L.A. students visited three universities in the Bay Area and obtained information about classes and tuition. (Courtesy of InnerCity Struggle)

Both students said they were very exited to go because they never thought they would have the opportunity to visit colleges far from home.

“[At the universities] they motivated us to go directly to a four-year university,” Meza told EGP.

“The best thing was talking to other students who gave us good advice,” added Orea.

Jasmin Pivaral, academic services coordinator at InnerCity Struggle, was one of the coordinators accompanying the students, along with 6 staff organizers.

Historically, Pivaral told EGP, colleges and universities were not equipped to accommodate the needs of low-income students, “and to this day they’re still not accessible.”

That’s why, she said, it is important to have more representation of low-income and first generation students in colleges throughout California.

During the visits to the colleges, “we try to get hosts that come from similar backgrounds as our students,” Pivaral told EGP via email. “We want students not only to be inspired by being on campus, but also to visualize themselves [at the school] through our hosts who are also low-income and first generation college students.”

During their visit, the students were able to meet two United Students alumni; one who is now attending UC Berkeley and another at CSU East Bay.

Meza said she felt comfortable talking to the college students: “They educated us to which school we should attend” depending on our goals, she said, adding that she is now more motivated to go straight to a four-year university rather than a community college.

“They even gave us financial information” about what it costs to attend, Meza added.

Lea este artículo en Español: Programa Enfocado a Estudiantes del Este de L.A. Ayuda a Planear Futuro Académico

Pivaral said many students, for one reason or another, get discouraged while in high school. “It is our responsibility to help make sure that students still work toward [their] goal despite their obstacles,” she said. Most of the time the reason they get discouraged about their college prospects is due to a lack of information and fear of the cost, she added.

According to the Campaign for College Opportunity’s 2013 study, The State of Higher Education in California, the state is “home to more than 14.5 million Latinos,” or the 38% of California’s population and 68% of Latinos are under the age of 25. However, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2011 only 11% of Latinos had a Bachelor’s Degree compared to 39% of whites.

“We understand that most schools do not have the needed resources to provide trips like these to eastside students” or summer programs such as the Academy and that’s why United Students began to organize the student leaders to serve as mentors and to provide the resources, said Pivaral.

Meza said she is proud to be the first one in her family to graduate from high school. She feels a responsibility to give back to her parents who work in low-paying jobs; her mother in a chain fast food restaurant and her father who works part-time in the restaurant and part-time in a warehouse loading and unloading merchandise with a forklift.

“[My parents] work hard for me and I want to be able to help,” she said, adding she wants to become a lawyer or a psychologist. “They approve of [what I am doing] as long as I’m doing good things,” she explains.

Orea, who will be attending East Los Angeles College starting in the fall, said as a first generation student going to college will prove to her family that education is the best option. “I don’t want to struggle like my siblings who have kids already,” dropped out of school and have a hard time making ends meet, said Orea one of four children.

“I want to move forward because I see my parents struggling and I want to help them,” added Orea who is planning to study Business.

During United Students’ Media Justice Academy this summer, students will continue developing their leadership skills and will focus on how media can have a positive or negative influence in communities, said Pivaral.

Student participants will learn how “the media is used to perpetuate stereotypes and misconceptions about eastside youth,” and how to overcome them, she explained.

In the meantime, Orea said she is exited to have taken one more step forward in reaching her educational goals. “I want to know what it is like to go to a different place,” she said as she begins to consider the possibility of going to a four-year university far from home.

Meza told EGP that since joining the group her parents have been more open to hearing about her options; “They want me to go to college and have the chance to get a better job,” she said.

This year about 45 students in the United Students program will be graduating from high school, and the colleges they will attend include UCLA, UC San Diego, Yale University, Brown University, Mount St. Mary’s, UC Merced, CSU LA and CSUN.

Although the summer Academy is only open to students who are already United Students members, the group encourages students at their focus high schools to attend their general membership meetings, which usually occur during lunch-time or after school, depending on the campus.


Twitter @jackieguzman


Editor’s Note: Headline updated to correct editing error.


Se Refuerza Asociación Entre Garfield, ELAC y CSULA para Mejoras de Educación

May 15, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

La semana pasada funcionarios de educación anunciaron una iniciativa que se enfoca en motivar a estudiantes del Este de Los Ángeles para que obtengan educación superior garantizándoles admisión a la universidad Cal State Los Ángeles.

“GO East L.A.: Un Camino para la Universidad y Éxito Profesional” es una sociedad entre la preparatoria Garfield, el Colegio Comunitario del Este de Los Ángeles (ELAC), y la universidad Cal State L.A.

José Huerta, presidente de la preparatoria Garfield muestra la firma del documento de  asociación con las entidades ELAC y CSULA para promover educación superior a estudiantes del Este de Los Ángeles. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

José Huerta, presidente de la preparatoria Garfield muestra la firma del documento de
asociación con las entidades ELAC y CSULA para promover educación superior a estudiantes del Este de Los Ángeles. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

El programa creado por la Miembro de la Junta Directiva del Distrito Escolar de Los Ángeles, Mónica García, el Presidente de ELAC Marvin Martínez y el Presidente de Cal State L.A. William A. Covino, ofrece a los estudiantes de Garfield y ELAC prioridad de admisión a Cal State L.A. si reúnen los requisitos necesarios.

Los creadores de la iniciativa dicen que su visión es desarrollar una “comunidad que sea un sistema educativo de la cuna a la carrera profesional” que apoye a los jóvenes del área desde el preescolar hasta la graduación de la universidad con las herramientas necesarias para tener éxito en cada nivel del sistema educativo. El objetivo es asegurar que los estudiantes que asisten a la preparatoria Garfield en el Este de Los Ángeles obtengan las habilidades necesarias para “contribuir a la vitalidad económica y de salud de la comunidad”, según un comunicado difundido por ELAC.

A través de GO East L.A., los estudiantes que asisten a la preparatoria Garfield recibirán apoyo para sus metas académicas después de graduarse de la preparatoria, si quieren asistir primero a ELAC o ir directamente a Cal State LA. Estudiantes que asisten ELAC también recibirán asistencia específica para ayudarles a transferirse a Cal State L.A.

Entre otras cosas, la iniciativa pide la recopilación de recursos privados y públicos para proporcionar más asesoramiento académico y de apoyo a los estudiantes de Garfield y ELAC para asegurarse de que están completando con éxito las clases que necesitan para asistir a Cal State L.A. Se animará a los estudiantes a tomar más clases de preparación universitaria y cursos que califiquen para créditos universitarios mientras estén en la preparatoria.

La preparatoria Garfield, que en algún momento fue una de las escuelas más sobre pobladas de LAUSD, actualmente matricula alrededor de 2.500 estudiantes y tuvo una tasa de graduación de 87,3% en el 2011-12 , según el Presidente de Garfield, José Huerta.

García, dijo que el objetivo de GO East L.A. es eliminar los obstáculos que enfrentan muchos estudiantes para que puedan graduarse en menos tiempo y acceder al mercado laboral con un título en sus manos. La asociación se compromete en ser ellos mismos “responsables” en cuanto al éxito de los estudiantes, dijeron los funcionarios.

“Vamos a empezar por conseguir que nuestros profesores y nuestros maestros hablen entre sí”, García le dijo a EGP. “Los consejeros de los campuses que hablen el uno al otro también”, agregó. “… La clase del 2014 de la preparatoria Garfield ya está conectada con ELAC y Cal State L.A.”, anunció.

Julia Soto, estudiante del 12 grado en Garfield, le dijo a EGP que la iniciativa es un gran recurso para ella porque planea obtener su título Asociado o entrar en un programa de enfermería y posteriormente conseguir una licenciatura en Ciencias . “Este programa [nos] anima a ir a ELAC y después transferirnos a Cal State L.A., con prioridad de inscripción”, dijo después de la conferencia de prensa que se llevó a cabo el 8 de mayo en Garfield.

Soto dijo que actualmente ella está tomando clases de la universidad durante los fines de semana para obtener más rápido su título universitario. “Gente de ELAC viene los sábados a darnos clases”, dijo. “Ellos nos motivan a continuar con nuestros estudios”.

Huerta le dijo a EGP que él esta “muy impresionado y honrado” de que los logros de Garfield estén siendo reconocidos.

Por ahora, la iniciativa se ofrece solo en Garfield, pero García dijo que espera que otras escuelas del Este como Esteban Torres y la Academia de Aprendizaje Solís se añadan en la próxima ronda.

Mientras que las tres instituciones educativas siempre han tenido una relación, García dijo que espera que este nuevo esfuerzo convierta la relación más fuerte con objetivos más claros. “Lo que queremos ver en el programa GO East L.A. es una mejor organización en torno a los programas, el apoyo y los resultados”, le dijo a EGP.

Las empresas locales también proporcionarán ayuda a los estudiantes necesitados. Entre los partidarios locales, Grifols Worldwide, un grupo mundial de la salud localizado junto a Cal State L.A., ha donado $50.000 para becas para estudiantes en el programa.

GO East L.A. también desarrollará programas orientados a ayudar a estudiantes a obtener un título universitario o certificados de carrera necesarios, así como edificar conocimiento sobre la universidad mediante el alcance a las escuelas secundarias y asociaciones con grupos comunitarios y los padres para promover la asistencia a la universidad con las habilidades necesarias.

GO East L.A. espera incluir escuelas intermedias del Este como Belvedere, Griffith y Stevenson, para acrecentar el esfuerzo.

García dijo que espera ver que los programas sean eventualmente expandidos a escuelas fuera del Este de Los Ángeles.

“Queremos ver un GO Lincoln Heights, GO Boyle Heights”, dijo. “Tenemos que ver a todos llegar a la meta.”


Twitter @jackieguzman

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