History

History of Somos Mayfair

Somos Mayfair was founded in 1997 (originally as the Mayfair Improvement Initiative) to address chronic crisis in Mayfair, a working-poor and immigrant neighborhood in east San Jose.  In the early years, Somos partnered with government, corporate, and nonprofit allies to renovate community infrastructure, catalyze new community investment, and develop new coalitions. Over the years, Somos revamped itself to most effectively operate in line with the needs of the community, and opportunities for regional partnerships evolved. In the past three years, this has led Somos to focus our efforts on two long-term community priorities – fostering early school success and nurturing family wellness.

 

The Mayfair Neighborhood

The Mayfair neighborhood is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the City of San Jose. First established in the early 1900s, Mayfair has always been home to working-poor immigrant families, primarily from Mexico.  Today, Mayfair is home to 13,103 residents, still predominantly first and second-generation Mexican-origin families, but increasingly home to immigrants from the Philippines, Vietnam, and India.  The median household income is roughly one-third less ($44,877) of the Santa Clara County median income ($106,300). High school graduation rates for the neighborhood are estimated to stagnate near 50% and rates of obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease far surpass the averages for the county.

In the face of these and other challenges the neighborhood relies on community assets unique to Mayfair. First among these assets is the living legacy of grassroots leadership.  Mayfair was home to United Farm Worker founder César Chávez.  It was in Mayfair where César first learned the craft of community organizing. Mayfair was also home to the first generation of Latino leadership that emerged from the Chicano Movement of the 1960’s and 70’s.  Many of today’s regional elected and institutional leadership began their work in Mayfair. That legacy animates the work of Somos Mayfair with today’s generation of leadership.