San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Community Center

For more than two decades, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians has made generous contributions to nonprofits and government agencies to make a difference in their surrounding communities and Indian Country. Below are some highlights of our charitable giving efforts.

Forging Hope Yawa’ Awards

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians welcomed the return of the 12th Annual Forging Hope Yawa’ Awards on May 13, 2022, at Yaamava’ Theater at Yaamava’ Resort & Casino when they recognized four nonprofits for their dedication in serving communities in ways that fulfill the Tribe’s Giving Pillars.

The nonprofits were selected by the Tribe for their work in education, healthcare, essential services, and empowering Indigenous communities. The recipients were initially selected in 2020, however due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Forging Hope Yawa’ Awards were postponed for two consecutive years.

The recipients were: 

  • Victor Valley College Foundation (Victorville, CA) for comprehensive firefighter training, certifications, and degree programs.
  • Assistance League of San Bernardino (San Bernardino, CA) for connecting children in need with essential dental care and oral health resources.
  • Time for Change Foundation (San Bernardino, CA) for providing housing and employment opportunities for low-income individuals.
  • Cheyenne River Youth Project (Eagle Butte, SD) for bringing innovative programming, including internship opportunities and arts education, to the Lakota community.


“We are proud to have partners who answer the call of Yawa’ by meeting the basic needs of at-risk groups, helping students onto the path of education, supporting Indigenous communities, and addressing health care disparities in our region.” Chairwoman Lynn Valbuena said during the ceremony.

The recipients were bestowed the Yawa’ award, an encased Serrano gourd rattle that was created by San Manuel youth. Back during the Tribe’s early history, the Serrano people used the gourd rattle as a percussive instrument in social traditions.

Read more of the 12th Annual Forging Hope Yawa’ Awards

SMBMI Sponsors the Return of the Redlands Bicycle Classic

After a two-year hiatus, the Redlands Bicycle Classic made its return to the Inland Empire with over 300 cyclists participating in the longest, continuously running professional stage race in the country.

With the support of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, the Redlands Bicycle Classic was made into a five-day event. The Tribe donated $90,000 to nonprofits that helped organize the classic, as well as an additional $50,000 for in-kind support.

Angel City Football Club, the Los Angeles Football Club and the Los Angeles Kings Hockey Development Team were invited to join the Tribe’s community partners to host different activities for kids in attendance. Professional cycling teams also visited over 30 local schools leading up to the Redlands Bicycle Classic to teach students valuable bicycle safety and wellness habits, which was made possible by the Tribe.

For over 36 years, the Redlands Bicycle Classic has welcomed professional cyclists to the communities of Redlands, Highland, Yucaipa and San Bernardino. Cyclists who participate in RBC have gone on to compete in elite cycling events, including the Tour de France, the Summer Olympic Games, and the UCI Road World Championships.

CSUSB Holds Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Santos Manuel Student Union Building

California State San Bernardino (CSUSB), on March 17, hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony of the grand opening of the Santos Manuel Student Union North (SMSU) building, a three-story, 120,000-square-foot, $90-million expansion of the Santos Manuel Student Union complex. The SMSU complex—which actually consists of three buildings—is the largest building in the California State University system named after an indigenous elder and leader. It features a multi-purpose ballroom, an eight-lane bowling alley and game room, a pub, food service and retail space, collaborative spaces for student organizations and support centers, and the Coyote Bookstore.

At the ceremony, CSUSB President Tomás D. Morales announced the building’s namesake, Santos Manuel, the founding leader of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, will receive an In Memoriam (Posthumous) Honorary Doctorate—CSU’s highest honor—at its 2022 spring commencement in May.

“As an anchor institution in the region, we would be remiss not to recognize his long-lasting contributions to the Tribal communities in Inland Southern California,” Morales said. “We can think of few others who best exemplify our region’s, state’s and nation’s most distinguished leaders and humanitarians, individuals whose efforts have transcended the ordinary and made a remarkable impact on the lives of generations of people.”

Read more about the ceremony here.


Chaffey College Foundation Receives $1.7 Million Grant From San Manuel

More Chaffey College students will have access to hospitality management and culinary arts training and careers with the support of a three-year, $1.7-million grant from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. 

Chaffey plans to create a career pipeline through its partnership—offering at least six paid internships per semester, doubling the number of students able to enroll in the program, and adding faculty and staff positions. More students will be able to participate with a “flipped classroom” approach: lectures and video instruction taught remotely and laboratory activity in the classroom. 

The grant will provide students with state-of-the-art, industry-standard kitchen equipment, as well as a food truck. It will also help pay for uniforms and knife kits for culinary students. In addition, more than 30 culinary and hospitality students can become “San Manuel Scholars” through Chaffey’s “Fund a Dream” scholarship program. 

Chaffey students, Yaamava Resort & Casino at San Manuel team members, and high school and community college students enrolled in the California Virtual Campus program can enroll in the Chaffey College Hospitality and Culinary Arts program. After completing one year of instruction and other requirements, students will be able to apply for paid internships.

“We pride ourselves in giving Chaffey students the preparation they need to hit the ground running their first day on the job,” said Associate Superintendent of Instruction and Institutional Effectiveness Laura Hope. “This partnership will give our hospitality and culinary programs an extra boost to prepare more students for lucrative careers.”

Read more about the Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts Growth Initiative


SMBMI Awards $1.3 Million to The River’s Edge Ranch

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians awarded River’s Edge Ranch—a Lucerne Valley nonprofit substance rehabilitation center for men—a $1.3-million grant to help with its expansion project. 

The grant quadruples the $250,000 raised separately in 2021 during the River’s Edge Ranch’s G1VE FOR ONE capital campaign. On February 12, the center held a groundbreaking event to mark the start of the project, which will increase capacity from 30 men to more than 50 men. Phase 1 of the expansion will include a fully renovated kitchen, new bunk housing, new dining facilities and new office facilities.

“We are truly blessed to receive this generous gift from the Tribe that will allow us to restore hope, meaning and purpose to even more men,” said River’s Edge Ranch Board of Directors President Doug Whiteman. “It will position the Ranch for future growth and provide additional opportunities for those in recovery to positively impact their families, places of work and communities.”

River’s Edge Ranch is located in the Tribe’s ancestral high desert lands and has served hundreds of men seeking to recover from substance abuse since 2007. Its multi-purpose approach effectively integrates the use of manual labor, animal-assisted therapy, service to others, faith and mentoring support. After living on the Ranch for one year, the men have the option of moving into supervised transitional housing and work full-time jobs while continuing to rebuild their lives.