Ontario Community Projects

Current PIO Projects

Pitzer in Ontario students can pick from several applied, long-term action research opportunities to fulfill their 150-hour internship requirement. Students may participate in a PIO-initiated project or work with an established group that organizes and conducts campaigns to improve local communities.


Huerta del Valle: Huerta del Valle is a community garden and urban agriculture project in Ontario that has grown out of collaboration between the Pitzer in Ontario program and community members. The project is supported by the City of Ontario and a partnership of organizations working to improve community health through comprehensive environmental, educational, policy and promotional strategies.

The Huerta del Valle project offers interns a diverse range of opportunities including community organizing; outreach and promotion; urban farming; setup, support and maintenance of community plots; documentation; story-gathering and blogging. Research will focus on the experiences of participants in the community garden and may be used to evaluate success of the project for grant funding purposes, to publicize and promote Huerta del Valle and/or to affect policy decisions regarding local food systems. Because this project is in its initial stages interns must be mature, self-directed, flexible and highly motivated. Basic Spanish conversational skills required and community organizing or gardening/farming experience preferred. For more information about this project please contact arthur_levine@pitzer.edu.


Market Makeover: The Ontario market makeover (or corner store conversion) project is based on similar efforts around the country to increase access to healthy, affordable foods in low-income communities through the transformation of small-scale corner or “convenience” stores. These efforts are supported and documented by organizations like MarketMakeovers.org and the Healthy Corner Stores Network.  In Ontario, we hope to provide foods grown by nearby farmers with love and respect for both environment and community to markets that are more commonly viewed as blight rather than an asset to their surrounding neighborhood. 

The project will require highly motivated and independent students to continue our work with Pronto Market, located 731 S.Euclid Ave. in Ontario. An intern will take over primary responsibilities for advancing the project under the supervision of Nora Stewart and Susan Phillips. Responsibilities include continuing to build relationships with the store owner, staff, and customers by spending significant time in and with the community surrounding Pronto Market, organizing promotional efforts (fliers, free samples, recipe cards) and producing related materials, communicating with City of Ontario regarding funding and incentive opportunities, coordinating mural design and painting, increasing community involvement, and producing signage for store. Research will help assess success of our pilot market makeover for future funding and expansion. Basic Spanish and/or Nepali conversational skills preferred. For more information about this project please contact susan_phillips@pitzer.edu.


Ontario Wheelhouse
: The Wheelhouse is a bike cooperative based out of Pitzer’s Ontario House that serves local day laborer and low-income communities through bike distribution and maintenance education as well as opening its doors to the public two days per week for free instruction and bike maintenance. The Wheelhouse began as a collaboration between the Pitzer in Ontario program, local youth and community members.

PIO interns for the Wheelhouse will assist Urban Fellow Max Estela (Wheelhouse Coordinator) to staff Wheelhouse shifts, conduct outreach at Pomona Economic Opportunity Center as well as other centers that serve day laborers, warehouse workers and low-income communities, conduct safety or maintenance workshops, create promotional materials for the Wheelhouse, and coordinate events. Interns will also attend meetings with regional bike advocacy groups and coalitions. Research focus will be determined by the needs of the Wheelhouse during the internship period. Research may include documenting the experiences of day laborers or “invisible riders” and may be used to affect policy decisions regarding transportation infrastructure. Basic Spanish conversational skills required and bicycle mechanic experience strongly preferred. For more information about this project please contact maxfield_estela@pitzer.edu.

Image courtesy of WWU

Warehouse Workers United: While the warehouse workers of the Inland Empire play a crucial role in our global economy,they often work for temp agencies and endure severe injustices. Warehouse Workers United is a labor organizing group working to fight for better jobs, higher wages, affordable healthcare, better working conditions, and the freedom to choose a union. Past PIO interns have collected data to help WWU build a case against wage theft from warehouse workers and a white paper documenting deplorable working conditions in Inland Empire warehouses.

Interns will attend worker meetings and actions, act as liaisons between WWU and Pitzer College, help WWU organizers collect data for their organizing efforts, and help provide services such as English language classes to the warehouse worker community served by WWU. Research will help WWU collect data for their policy and legislative work to better working conditions for warehouse workers. Spanish conversational skills required. For more information about this organization please contact sheheryar.kaoosji@changetowin.org.



Inland Congregations United for Change
: Working with congregations, schools and neighborhood institutions in San Bernardino and Riverside County, Inland Congregations United for Change (ICUC) brings people together to strengthen families and improve communities. Inland Congregations United for Change is an affiliate of the PICO National Networkand of PICO California, the largest grassroots community effort in California. ICUC recently succeeded in their campaign to pass Prop. 30, The Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act.

Image courtesy of ICUC

ICUC interns work closely with high school Youth Leaders and other community members on campaigns that in the past have included education, transportation and food justice. PIO students working with ICUC learn valuable and tested community organizing skills. Basic Spanish conversation skills and/or experience in photography, filmmaking or video editing preferred, but not required. For more information about this organization please contact tomkdolan@verizon.net.