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General Press Releases

Portside Community Academy Graduates First Cohort of Students

Pilot Program Launched in 2023 Offers New Educational Opportunity for Residents

The Port of San Diego has graduated the first cohort of participants from the Portside Community Academy, a pilot program aimed at building deeper connections with portside communities by exploring innovations in the maritime industry that are helping improve human health and quality of life.

The first cohort of the Academy took place from October through December 2023, offering residents a unique opportunity to engage with the Port’s sustainability efforts on and around San Diego Bay. This five-session program covered various aspects of the Port's clean air and electrification projects, focusing on impacts on human health, quality of life, and technological advancements in the maritime industry. It concluded with a narrated tour of San Diego Bay. The 30 graduates of the program were honored at a Board of Port Commissioners meeting on Jan. 18, 2024.

“I want to thank and recognize the dedication and commitment of the Portside Community Academy graduates, who invested their time and energy in learning about the Port of San Diego and the maritime industry,” said Chairman Frank Urtasun, Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners. “After completing this course, they are well prepared to serve as community ambassadors. We hope they will continue to stay involved with the Port and deepen their understanding of the ongoing investments by the Port and our tenants in clean technology – which are part of our aggressive strategy to improve air quality in our portside communities.”

This pilot program marks the first time the Port has offered a structured educational program geared toward residents of portside communities, which encompass parts of Barrio Logan, Logan Heights, Sherman Heights and National City; along with environmental justice communities in South San Diego, Chula Vista and Imperial Beach. The Portside Community Academy is a pioneering cross-departmental effort, representing the Port's dedication to becoming a “Port of Firsts.” It aligns with the Maritime Clean Air Strategy (MCAS) and efforts to be an early adopter of zero-emissions technologies for ships, cranes, tugboats, and trucks, while also addressing the specific needs and concerns of portside communities, including community education.

“Participating in the academy helped me understand the overall vision of the Port to modernize its operations while considering the health and wellbeing of the community around it,” said Academy graduate Brian Morales. “Hearing the planning and research that was conducted to ensure these transformations happen without negatively impacting the community, as has historically been the case for large infrastructure projects, allows me to support confidently the changes happening at the Port of San Diego.”

Interactive sessions featured presentations from Port staff members as well as a representative of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 29. Sessions took place at various locations within and around the Port, providing a well-rounded educational experience. Participants received a certificate of completion.

“This Academy opened my eyes to what the Port of San Diego is and does. They were transparent, informational and inclusive in the seminars,” said Academy graduate Cynthia Fletes-Mills. “I felt like I was part of something bigger and that my opinion was important.”

Constructive feedback from participants will guide the development of future Academy sessions, ensuring continuous improvement. The next cohort of the Academy is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2024.

For more information and to sign up on the interest list for the next cohort of the Portside Community Academy, please visit

About THE Port of San Diego

The Port of San Diego serves the people of California as a specially created district, balancing multiple uses on 34 miles along San Diego Bay spanning five cities. Collecting no tax dollars, the Port manages a diverse portfolio to generate revenues that support vital public services and amenities.

The Port champions Maritime, Waterfront Development, Public Safety, Experiences and Environment, all focused on enriching the relationship people and businesses have with our dynamic waterfront. From cargo and cruise terminals to hotels and restaurants, from marinas to museums, from 22 public parks to countless events, the Port contributes to the region’s prosperity and remarkable way of life on a daily basis.


Port of San Diego Maritime is our gateway to the world—leading our working waterfront and facilitating the movement of goods and people, internationally and domestically.

Port Maritime businesses employ thousands of residents and generate billions of dollars per year for the regional economy, creating a prosperous global economic engine for all.