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Little Italy San Jose Foundation

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Community & Neighborhood Development, Economic Development, Historical Organizations, Museums

Mission: To revitalize the original Italian settlement in the City of San Jose and the county of Santa Clara dating back to the 1880's. As a Non profit organization, we will develop Little Italy San Jose by preserving the Historic district, by promoting our Italian Heritage, and by creating an authentic look and feel of an Italian village and a tourist attraction for the City of San Jose.

Target demographics: create a thriving Italian cultural and Historical district

Direct beneficiaries per year: succesffully Raised $360,000 to acquire properties for a Little Italy Cultural Center & Museum

Geographic areas served: Santa Clara County

Community Stories

14 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Little Italy has surpassed my expectations and the neighborhood is only 30% complete. Peasano's restaurant has top quality Italian cuisine with wonderful servers, Bel Bacio Cafe has incredibly wonderful authentic Italian coffee, and Henry's is an undeniable staple of San Jose cuisine.

The park in Little Italy (Guadeloupe River Park) is a wonderfully large event lawn that has the best views of the San Jose skyline. The events hosted in the park are all fun and family friendly. Events include races, fairs, and the annual Italian Festa.

I can't wait to see the continued progress of this new neighborhood.

Btw: the arch looks fantastic. It welcomes travelers driving south on 87.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

It's wonderful to see that Little Italy San Jose Foundation continues to keep the heritage that is so important to a lot of Santa Clara Valley long time residents.

1 Claire12

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

From an old forgotten street in downtown San Jose this group came up with a vision to revitalize the area and at the same time celebrate Italian heritage in the area. They stepped out with a leap of faith and a lot of hard work, and now the area is blossoming with new life. It's exciting to see and to be able to enjoy the area. There are additional plans that they need help with including a museum. What this small community group has done is exciting and amazing!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

This school has brought our family together by educating all of us on our heritage and traditions. They have brought a sense of family to another generation. They understand that traditions are both important and fun to carry forward.

This school has also educated our child not only by preparing and educating her for school but on her heritage. We are very happy with the administration and the curriculum.

Thank You.

Nelson2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

One of the best and most helpful nonprofits for Italians and the greater bay area.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Being an Italian-American raised in the south bay area, I remember when the community was defined by specific areas where the Italian emigrants settled. Creating their own neighborhoods where Italian could just as easily be heard and spoken and shops providing our unique delicacies flourished.

The children of these Italian emigrants have assimilated into the community and moved away from these original neighborhoods. Though various clubs have been formed to keep that spirit of the Italian community alive, not until the Little Italy San Jose Foundation has there been a location offering a bit of the historic neighborhood experience.

With it’s cafe, restaurants and other Italo-centric services, I regularly enjoy the flavors and atmosphere of Little Italy San Jose. But its enjoying the different activities they sponsor like their Festa’s, wine tastings and Cannoli Tournaments, that brings me the pleasure of community.

With it’s master plan on paper, it already has made real a wonderful central piazza open to all. An identifying archway into the neighborhood and Cultural Center & Museum are in the works to further make this a center for the Italo-American community in San Jose.

It is a work in progress and I have shared me skills to help. That help has been wonderfully received and integrated. I will do more and encourage anyone who has enjoyed the fruits of this neighborhood or is at all interested in the local Italian history or culture in general, to volunteer and help bring the dream alive.

Donor

Rating: 5

My family has loved getting involved in the Little Italy San Jose Foundation. We have attended the Italian Festa for the last few years and love it! We started our affiliation with Little Italy when we bought our family brick several years ago. We have attended several fundraisers and they are always fun and enlightening. Having brought friends to some of the functions, their reaction is "Gee...I wish I were Italian!".

We are proud of our Italian heritage and enjoy learning more about our ancestors who came to this area and how wonderfully well this program is run!

Ciao!
The Jamello Family

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have loved participating in the Italian Festa the past 2 years! The feeling of community & connection to my heritage is deeply fulfilling for me!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Attracted by the mild climate and abundance of fertile land, Italians came to the Santa Clara Valley from all regions of Italy, including Sicily, Calabria, Basilicata, Tuscany, and Piedmont. Beginning in the 1880s, the “Eden of the World” beckoned Italian immigrants as farmers, ranchers, orchardists, vegetable growers, and winemakers. Italian men, women, and children filled the numerous canneries and packinghouses supplying the rest of the nation with fresh produce. Once the largest ethnic group in the valley, Italians’ impact on the region has been profound, yet is often overlooked.

Since 2009, Joshua Devincezi Melander and his team of volunteers have worked endlessly to restore, the once was, Little Italy San Jose. There has been enormous progress made. A restaurant, a school and a cafe, all of which are locally owned and we are expecting more to open in the near future. Coming soon, there will be an Italian Culture Center, to remind us all about those who arrive here as immigrants from Italy and other countries and who lived, worked, and enjoyed their experiences of living in this beautiful Santa Clara Valley and the rural San Jose of years gone by. I am very proud to say I am one of Little Italy'
s Volunteers.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Little Italy San Jose is a grassroots organization that is working to revitalize a blighted historic neighborhood in San Jose while bringing some recognition to the largely unrecognized contributions of Italian Americans in this diverse city. The project is already bringing life to a dingy and run down neighborhood in an ideal location of downtown San Jose, right next to the SAP center ( arena). Renovated houses, An Italian school,restaurants, and a café are already completed, with more in the works. The dream of these businesses are already bringing life into this historic neighborhood, which once housed Italian immigrants, a group if people who have contributed to San Jose in immeasurable ways. The Little Italy project not only recognizes the efforts of Italian Americans if San Jose, while bringing more diversity, culture, and life to a poorly utilized area of San Jose.

Donor

Rating: 5

Little Italy is a most exciting cultural project that has been spearheaded by Joshua DeVincenzi Melander with his staff of volunteers. Being of Italian ancestry and growing up here in the Santa Clara Valley, it's been awesome to watch the progression of Little Italy from starting with the brick placements, banners, arch, Italian retail stores and soon to be cultural center and museum. I just wish my parents were here to see it's development. San Jose has a rich background of Italian immigrants like my father who first came to the Little Italy area and then went on with hardwork and diligence to become a farmer when San Jose was known as the "Valley of Heart's Delight." Moreover, this is a wonderful tribute to all our Italian ancestors that can be shared with generations to come in our community and visitors alike demonstrating our Italian ethnicity. Buona Fortuna, Piccola Italia!

Oliveri408

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Little Italy San Jose (LISJ) is an exciting cultural development in the nations 10th largest city, San Jose California. The unusual thing about San Jose is its lack of culture and activity in its downtown. Although San Jose is the largest city in Northern California (yes, even bigger than San Francisco), it falls below many other California cities in terms of downtown significance and popularity. San Jose is the Capital of Silicon Valley and is filled with the world’s hardest workers and brilliant minds.

There's a rich Italian history in Santa Clara County that has unfortunately become forgotten due to the upsurge of new “tech” immigrants and past Italians having become assimilated into the California lifestyle. The Italians who helped pioneer this region need to be celebrated and remembered with a small downtown district filled with art, festivals, music, museums, pizzerias, restaurants, bakeries, bars and of course Bocce Ball courts! Italians have a deep-rooted history in the United States of America (remember, the name America is Italian) and therefore should be represented in one of the nations greatest and largest cities, San Jose!

1 JPrice

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was interested in volunteering for an organization in a local area and I came across the http://www.littleitalysj.com/index.html website only a few months after they were first established in 2009. The name and the causes of this organization caught my attention, since I have partial family roots in Italy and in San Jose and Santa Clara, my great grandparents on my mother's side of the family were from Italy and my grandparents, aunts and uncles all lived and/or went to school near this area. I grew up just a short drive away from downtown San Jose, in Los Gatos, so I had spent a lot of time in and around the San Jose. Little Italy SJ sounded like a group I'd really enjoy being a part of and contributing time towards seeing the LISJ Neighborhood grow. Then I noticed the name of the President of LISJ, Joshua DeVincenzi Melander. I wondered if he was related to Mr. DeVincenzi, who had been one of my favorite art professor at San Jose State University, years before. It turned out he was his grandson. Joshua's grandfather was John DeVencenzi, who had spent many years improving cultural areas and planning events for downtown San Jose. So I had a feeling after talking with Joshua and that would also have great plans for his hometown.

Since that first time I called to inquire about volunteering with LISJ, it's been almost 5 years now, meeting new volunteers, all of us volunteering for special fund raising galas and special events to raise funds for the many projects completed and those still planned for LISJ. Also, making great friends along the way with fellow volunteers, who all share a passion for their italian heritage, weather, like in my case, are only part Italian or others, who are from all italian heritage or those simply believe in the redevelopment of this neighborhood as a way to improve the lifestyle for those who live and work in downtown San Jose. I've seen not only the LISJ organization grow with more volunteers, but most importantly, this organization has established the growth and preservation of this Little Italy neighborhood along the beautiful Guadalupe Parkway into what is becoming a thriving area, for those who live and work in downtown San Jose, to enjoy and for those visiting San Jose, to explore. With the kind help of many local sponsors, companies and individuals, the City of San Jose and its many dignitaries, LISJ has been able to re-establish a neighborhood where new businesses are thriving and new home owners, now and in the future, will be able to enjoy a neighborhood with locally owned businesses and places to enjoy cultural experiences. Within 4+ years time in LISJ, new businesses have opened; a restaurant, a school and a cafe, all of which are locally owned and we are expecting more to open in the near future. Coming soon, there will be an Italian Culture Center, to remind us all about those who arrive here as immigrants from Italy and other countries and who lived, worked, and enjoyed their experiences of living in this beautiful Santa Clara Valley and the rural San Jose of years gone by. Also, to show locals and visitors today, how far this neighborhood and the City of San Jose and this valley community have come over the years and the possibilities that are still ahead for the LISJ neighborhood and San Jose, California for the future years.

1 Joshua16

Board Member

Rating: 5

Little Italy San Jose has been working hard to restore the original Italian settlement in San Jose. Some of our main accomplishments are the tremendous amount ok In Kind and monetary donations we received to build an Italian Cultural center/Museum and a 31 foot gateway arch, the recruitment of 3 Italian businesses, and the installation of 30 banners honoring local Italian Americans.