Darrel Cortez is not your typical non-profit executive director. A retired San Jose Police Officer, he founded the Shop With a Cop Foundation of Silicon Valley “to be the bridge builders in the community engendering trust that seems to be waning across this country.”
This 100% volunteer effort works with at-risk and underprivileged children in Silicon Valley. They have several programs, including:
- Operation Backpack (children earn school supplies for completing summer reading)
- Family Reading Night (Helps parents learn how to help their kids)
- Readers Are Leaders (a program to encourage kids to read and kids earn points for their participation)
- Heroes and Helpers (kids paired with police officers to go on a Christmas shopping spree)
A common theme of what their efforts is a mutual contribution between the police officers and the kids. Since its founding in 2008, the program has grown to over 100 police officers helping over 100 students. Although the focus is currently on one East San Jose school, Cortez looks to expand to other Silicon Valley schools.
Cortez sums up their work as “an investment in kids to make safer communities tomorrow.” He and his colleagues efforts to improve law-enforcement/community relations are a great example of sacrificing today for a payout that will occur many years from now. Kudos to Cortez and team.