Frances Grice, Civil Rights and Economic Development pioneer, passed away on December 31, 2017. She was 84 years old.
Grice came to San Bernardino, California from Detroit, Michigan in 1962. Shortly after arriving on the West Coast, she started working as a secretary for the Precinct Reporter under Publisher Art Townsend. There she became very instrumental in the development of Townsend’s sons, Brian and Michael.
“The most important thing that Frances did for me and later my brother Michael was to let me provide leadership at an early age,” Brian Townsend explains. “I was 20 years old and she let me run the summer youth program unimpeded. She had us sit in the meetings with the presidents of corporations and interface with them. She put us in those realms.”
Grice later founded the Operation Second Chance, a high-tech training and educational facility for disadvantaged youth, welfare recipients and workers displaced by plant closures, of which there were several in the early 1970s throughout the Inland Empire.
“She was just an awesome person,” he said. “She understood the importance of providing opportunities to minorities in our community.”
Operation Second Chance came about after Grice along with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) fought for seven years to wage for school desegregation in San Bernardino.
“She taught me that anything is possible. We should stick to it and keep fighting for what is good for our community,” Bobby Bivens, national board member of the NAACP, stated. “She taught me that I can really make a difference through civil rights advocacy and that I must reach back and train the young people. As a result, I have the best NAACP Youth Council in the region.”
During her life, Grice was a leading advocate for diversity where she promoted civil rights and equal opportunity in education, employment, housing economic and community development. She created and implemented community outreach programs for local, state and federal government agencies to meet the needs of targeted audiences.
“She never quit,” said San Bernardino City Unified School District Board Member Gwen Dowdy Rodgers. “Frances always pushed us to continue and reminded us what we were fighting for.”
Grice also developed and managed employee training programs to promote academic achievement and employability in local water districts. Other accomplishments that she did include, but are not limited to: becoming the President and CEO of ADF Networking Consultancy Inc., National Small Business Advocacy Award recipient; member of Martin Luther King Jr., statue maintenance, and several others.
Funeral service dates on forthcoming.