Downtown Academy takes on the Bay Area

DSC_6149.JPGPosted by Bianca Camara

Early January of this year, I was marching into my last year at California State University, Fresno, on my way to completing my B.S. in commercial recreation and special event planning. Little did I know, the professional world was here to smack me right in the face. Oh, and it was real hard too.

That spring semester pushed me out of my shell to find a fall internship, and this college girl was a pretty nervous wreck. I landed a few interviews with some businesses, and one of them happened to be at the Downtown Fresno Partnership (DFP).

And here I am today, in my 10th week of 15, loving every bit of it!

One of my main projects here that I overtook was the Downtown Academy Class, which the Partnership just took over this year. I was assigned to manage the class and work out all of the logistics, while also attending the classes and working with DFP staff.

This program is a class that is focused on connecting with surrounding businesses, community leaders, and the government with dynamic and innovative professionals to tour and enjoy how and when downtown Fresno got here, and where it is going in the future.

This year’s class is made up of 32 unique individuals, who have committed their time to this awesome program for 10-months straight. The class meets up for one evening each month to tour different areas in our downtown Fresno with class instructor, Craig Scharton. They also get the opportunity to travel to other surrounding cities to get a taste of what other downtowns feel and look like.

This year the Downtown Academy Class V (DTA) class took on the bay area for the first time!

Since the program was established by FLYP in 2010, the class has always toured Southern California, so it was nice for a change in direction!

The class took on Livermore, Pleasanton, San Mateo and San Jose all in one day! What a long voyage.

They were able to tour, experience and learn about the cities, to help visualize future revitalization efforts for our downtown Fresno.


Before DTA’s departure, the class was able to enjoy a delicious continental breakfast from one of Fresno’s local downtown restaurant businesses, Tree of Life Café & Bakery. Owner Carolyn Ocheltree is also a part of the Downtown Academy class, so HUGE shout out to Carolyn for a very yummy breakfast!

P.S. If you haven’t tried her chocolate chip scones…They are amazing. Check out Tree of Life Café & Bakery any time at 2139 Kern St. Fresno, CA 93721. They are open 7am – 2pm Mon. – Fri.

The first stop was in Livermore, with an awesome tour from Rachael Snedecor, Executive Main Street Director of Livermore. The class was able to enjoy a walking tour filled with informational facts about the street and how much it has grown over time.

DSC_6071.JPGDSC_6091.JPGPleasanton was a short pit stop tour by class instructor Craig Scharton. Craig was actually the Former Main Street Director for Pleasanton before he relocated to Fresno. Therefore he was able to educate the class about Pleasanton and its calm and relaxed Main Street atmosphere.

Pork Ramen bowls from Ajisen Ramen in downtown San Mateo, Ca

As the trip continued, they stopped in downtown San Mateo, and the class was able to wander off on their own for lunch. They noticed that San Mateo’s downtown area had such unique character, a massive amount of restaurants and a handful of beautiful historical buildings. Let’s just say their downtown area was at the top of the list!

Last but not least, San Jose! After such a long day, DFP let the class relax a little until their evening walking tour to their class dinner. The class enjoyed a delicious patio meal at Billy Berk’s American restaurant. The class dinner was filled with excitement and discussion about what San Jose nightlife had to offer.


The class was able to experience South FIRST FRIDAY’S art walk and STREET MRKT urban faire, located in downtown San Jose’s SoFA District.

Imagine a Fresno ArtHop, but outside on a closed street filled with galleries, museums, live independent artists, creative vendors, food trucks, and more! It was the perfect night for the class to wander the city and find some cool things to do.

The next day, the class was able to experience San Jose’s San Pedro Square, public market and end at Santana Row with class instructor Craig, to discuss the similarities and differences that they have spotted between all cities they have visited.


It was a great way for them to reflect and share their experiences that maybe some class members had not seen or heard about.

This two day class tour will go down in the books as one of the most memorable Downtown Academy trips taken.

The Downtown Fresno Partnership loved that they were able to accompany the class to the bay area and learn while bonding and enjoying the trip together. Exploring and gaining knowledge about these cities main streets and downtown areas were vital, as to the class making improvements and generating ideas for revitalization in our downtown Fresno.



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