School of Arts and Culture at Mexican Heritage Plaza: Incubated and Launched

In 2010, SVCREATES (then 1stACT Silicon Valley) participated in an 18-month community process to reimagine a future for the struggling Mexican Heritage Plaza (MHP) located on the east side of San José. Informed by community feedback and market research, the Steering Committee, appointed by City Council, recommended a school of arts and culture focused on children and families.  

As part of the Steering Committee leadership, SVCREATES developed the business model and operations plan for this emerging vision and was asked by the community and City Council to be the School’s incubator operator in 2011. Aligned with its goal of increasing access to the arts, SVCREATES took up the challenge and loaned Tamara Alvarado, then Director of its Multicultural Arts Leadership Institute (MALI), to the effort. An operations team was recruited, the MALI program was embedded inside the school, and the School of Arts and Culture at MHP opened for business.

After demonstrating the strength of the operating model, SVCREATES formed a separate nonprofit, and spun off the venture in 2013 under Tamara’s leadership. Today, the School is consistently in the black while bringing joy, learning, and pride to tens of thousands of children and families each year (before the pandemic) while fueling economic vitality within the neighborhood. Under the current leadership of Jessica Paz-Cedillos they have provided critical Covid 19 pandemic services for the eastside community, are building back their cultural programs and classes and playing a significant role in community development.

SVCREATES continues to support the success of the School annually by funding scholarships to increase access and affordability for the eastside community.