RAY and KATHY BLAVATT’S News, Projects, History, and More!

The Blavatt’s studio/home is in Ocean Beach San Diego, CA. The beach town’s beauty, uniqueness and quirkiness are inspiration for the their creativity.
Kathy’s New Book San Diego’s Sunset Cliffs Park: A History, REVIEWS:
OB RAG
Peninsula Beacon
AVAILABLE: directly from Author (leave contact info. for delivery in OB or PL), Soon at: Olive Tree Market, Amazon and other online sites.

San Diego’s Sunset Cliff Park: A History
Blavatt OB Rag- Love or hate the daisies, eucalyptus and native plants of Sunset Cliffs its all history
Meet Ray Blavatt: Ocean Beach artist on winning team for international literacy award
Excerpt: Ocean Beach resident Ray Blavatt is the animator on the team that won the Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE for its adult literacy learning app. Blavatt works for Learning Upgrade, which competed against more than 100 other teams in 15 countries to tie for first place in February 2019.
As co-winner, Learning Upgrade receives $2.5 million, in addition to the $100,000 it took home last summer for being named finalists. The company tied for first place with PeopleForWords, a team based out of Dallas.
The object of the Adult Literary XPRIZE is to challenge companies to design an app, which can be used on any smartphone, to teach literacy or second-language skills. The winners were chosen based on how successful students in educational settings were after using the app over several
Blavatt said winning the award felt like “icing on the cake” for his team’s work after creating many other educational programs using music, games and lessons.
“My work with Learning Upgrade has changed my life,” he told Point Loma-OB Monthly….  ….Blavatt had already made his artistic mark in Ocean Beach with several community art projects. His cartoons are on display at local coffee houses, and he’s always around to handle the tech issues during meetings of the OB Historical Society. Kathy is also a renowned author, artist and photographer.
 ‘Jazzman’ by Ray Blavatt (Courtesy)

Yahoo!!! Feb. 7, 2019, Ray Blavatt and Learning Upgrade Team WIN…..
“Two Teams Tie for Grand Prize in $7M Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE”.
https://www.xprize.org/prizes/adult-literacy/articles/two-teams-tie-for-grand-prize
X-pri-win
learning-upgrade-teamAbove- Vinod Lobo recieves First Place XPRIZE Award.
Left- The Learning Upgrade Team (Ray lower right)

Learning Upgrade is family run business with a group of good friends. Ray Blavatt, Animator has worked with Vinod Lobo, Founder, making edutainment/educational titles since 1990. This talented hardworking team are making a positive difference in the world. Learning Upgrade’s Adult Literacy app is being used in 60 countries by over 2 millions users. See more info. at: Learning UpgradeA wonderful way of leaning  through animation, interactive games, lessons, and music.
San Diego Union Tribune:
Full Article at: http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/business/technology/sd-fi-xprize-barbara-bush-learning-upgrade-20190216-story.html#share=email~story

Exert: San Diego’s Learning Upgrade named co-winner of literacy XPrize

Abril Parra shows how to use the Learning Upgrade app as part of an adult education program. The company was named co-winner of the Adult Literacy XPrize last week
Mike Freeman Contact Reporter
For more than two decades, San Diego’s Learning Upgrade has developed “handcrafted” video games that use music to teach reading and math.
A core group of about 10 workers stayed together through the ups and downs at the small family business, helping it navigate technology evolutions from computer compact discs to web-based online lessons to smartphone apps.
Last week, those years of under-the-radar work received big-time recognition. Learning Upgrade was named the co-winner of the $7 million Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPrize, beating out more than 100 teams from 15 countries.
“We were in complete shock,” said Vinod Lobo, founder of Learning Upgrade. “Most of my team – meaning the artist, the programmer and my parents – have been working together for 20 to 25 years. Yes, we have helped 2 million people over the years who enrolled in our courses, but no one knows about us. So this was a mind-blowing event in the history of the company.”
Learning Upgrade shared the XPrize with People ForWords – a team based out of Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Each will receive $2.5 million, in addition to the $100,000 they took home last summer for being named finalists.
Launched in 2015, the Adult Literacy XPrize — presented in partnership with the Dollar General Literacy Foundation — challenged teams to develop mobile apps that could teach literacy to adults who were reading at or below the third-grade level.
According to the XPrize Foundation, 36 million adults in the U.S. have low literacy skills. Former First Lady Barbara Bush believed literacy was fundamental to success. Unemployment rates among low literacy adults are twice the national average. And there’s a generational carryover. More than two-thirds of children of low literacy parents struggle with reading.
“Just imagine trying to find a job, get a driver’s license or understand your child’s report card without the ability to read and write,” said former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in a statement. “We launched this project to leverage the power of competition to infuse innovation and fresh ideas into the adult literacy landscape.”
The Adult Literacy XPrize winners were announced Feb. 7 by Jeb Bush on a yacht cruising off the coast of Miami. The event was part of the Florida Celebration of Reading, a fundraiser for the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. Lobo and his wife, Sheryin, were flown out for the event — along with representatives of other finalist teams.
The Learning Upgrade team: Top row from left: Denis Lobo, Shyla Merle Lobo, Sheryin Lobo, John Banks. Bottom Row: Vinod Lobo, Drew Robinson, Ray Blavatt (Learning Upgrade)
“This is the 30th anniversary (of the Florida Celebration of Reading) and also the first time both Barbara Bush and George Bush were not there,” said Lobo. “It was kind of an emotional event.”
Upon returning to shore, Vinod and Sheryin set up a conference call with family and key employees on the West Coast to share the news.
Learning Upgrade is a tight-knit outfit. The company is owned by the couple and Vinod’s parents, who moved to the United States from India when he was 7. There are no investors and no debt.
“We have done everything on a shoestring,” he said. “You do it because you love doing it.”
Lobo’s mom, Shyla Merle Lobo, is a teacher and songwriter who pens the music for Learning Upgrade’s lessons. Video game designer John Banks and animator Ray Blavatt have been with the company for years. So have many of the singers, said Lobo.
Everyone works out of their homes. The lessons themselves have a “Schoolhouse Rock” feel but with more depth.
“We handcraft these lessons that are music and video and games,” said Lobo. “We have humor, variety, songs of different genres. It’s entertaining.”
Over the years, Learning Upgrade has produced roughly 1,000 literacy and math lessons. About three years ago, the company saw a dramatic shift in its business when it began offering smartphone app versions of lessons that previously were tailored for online computer users.
More adults began using its technology — including at the Umi Learning Center for North African refugees in San Diego and the Sweetwater Adult School program in Chula Vista. Three school districts in Los Angeles use the app version of Learning Upgrade in migrant family education programs.
“In our case, we can track all the learning,” said Lobo. “We can tell you Joe played on Saturday night, and he is having trouble with double vowels. Suzie is reading stories well, but her social studies textbook reading is not as good.”
The non-profit XPrize Foundation organizes contests to spark big leaps in innovation. Past competitions involved building a private, reusable spacecraft and a handheld medical diagnosis device similar to the fictional Tricorder from Star Trek.
Last summer, the Adult Literacy XPrize narrowed the field of contestants to five finalists. One dropped out, leaving Learning Upgrade, People ForWords, AmritaCreate of India and Cell-Ed of Oakland.
The finalists’ apps were tested on a combined 12,000 adult learners in Los Angeles, Dallas and Philadelphia. Winners were determined by the greatest literacy gains among both native English speakers and non-English speaker
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush presented the XPrize to Learning Upgrade in Florida last week.
Learning Upgrade won $1 million for the best test results among English speakers, while People ForWords took a $1 million prize for non-English speakers. The two firms split the $3 million grand prize.
The contest is not over. There’s also a $1 million Communities Competition this summer. It aims to get the four finalist apps into the hands of as many low literacy adults as possible – either through traditional programs at libraries and schools or non-traditional methods such as employers, public housing providers or YMCAs.
For example, a chicken processing company with thousands of employees plans to offer the apps to its low literacy workers, said Lobo.
Organizations and employees who participate in the Communities Competition are potential future customers for Learning Upgrade, said Lobo, which should help the company grow.
“Now we can say without anyone arguing that our program does help a learner make a significant gain,” he said. “So now it is a little easier to go to a Google or a Gates Foundation or whomever and say, A: It works with a large sample, and B: All people need to do is download the app and use it.”
He continued, “Can we serve millions of users every year in a sustainable way? That would be the dream, to scale up to serve millions of users.”
Union-Tribune columnist Diane Bell contributed to this report
“This is the 30th anniversary (of the Florida Celebration of Reading) and also the first time both Barbara Bush and George Bush were not there,” said Lobo. “It was kind of an emotional event.”
Upon returning to shore, Vinod and Sheryin set up a conference call with family and key employees on the West Coast to share the news.
Learning Upgrade is a tight-knit outfit. The company is owned by the couple and Vinod’s parents, who moved to the United States from India when he was 7. There are no investors and no debt.
“We have done everything on a shoestring,” he said. “You do it because you love doing it.”
   Lobo’s mom, Shyla Merle Lobo, is a teacher and songwriter who pens the music for Learning Upgrade’s lessons. Video game designer John Banks and animator Ray Blavatt have been with the company for years. So have many of the singers, said Lobo.
Everyone works out of their homes. The lessons themselves have a “Schoolhouse Rock” feel but with more depth.

“We handcraft these lessons that are music and video and games,” said Lobo. “We have humor, variety, songs of different genres. It’s entertaining.”
Over the years, Learning Upgrade has produced roughly 1,000 literacy and math lessons. About three years ago, the company saw a dramatic shift in its business when it began offering smartphone app versions of lessons that previously were tailored for online computer users.
More adults began using its technology — including at the Umi Learning Center for North African refugees in San Diego and the Sweetwater Adult School program in Chula Vista. Three school districts in Los Angeles use the app version of Learning Upgrade in migrant family education programs.
“In our case, we can track all the learning,” said Lobo. “We can tell you Joe played on Saturday night, and he is having trouble with double vowels. Suzie is reading stories well, but her social studies textbook reading is not as good.”
The non-profit XPrize Foundation organizes contests to spark big leaps in innovation. Past competitions involved building a private, reusable spacecraft and a handheld medical diagnosis device similar to the fictional Tricorder from Star Trek.
Last summer, the Adult Literacy XPrize narrowed the field of contestants to five finalists. One dropped out, leaving Learning Upgrade, People ForWords, AmritaCreate of India and Cell-Ed of Oakland.
The finalists’ apps were tested on a combined 12,000 adult learners in Los Angeles, Dallas and Philadelphia. Winners were determined by the greatest literacy gains among both native English speakers and non-English speakers…..
Full Article at:  //www.sandiegouniontribune.com/business/technology/sd-fi-xprize-barbara-bush-learning-upgrade-20190216-story.html#share=email~story

01 Kathy-and Louise-w-eyepatchHOW DOES MY GARDEN GROW?
KATHY BLAVATT writes articles with photos for the OB Rag  about local horticulture and landscaping. She  incorporates historical content, and information about what is happening in terms of local and San Diego horticulture.

Visit OB Rag Articles:
The Many Shades of Red
Holidays with a bit of history and food from the garden
Scary Food From My Ocean Beach Garden
Think Vertical…Up,Up, and display
Smell the Roses and the Freesias
Louise Peirson and Her History Making Garden in Ocean Beach
Nature’s Garden Dance Under a Full Moo
Tis the Season of the Agave
Greens Make The OB Holidays Greener
Inspirations Blooms-Remembering Fran Conley
How Does My Garden Grown
 

Adult Literacy XPRIZE WINNERS!

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Learning Upgrade

Learnigupgrade
San Diego firm named a finalist in the $7 million Adult Literacy XPrize contest
Mike Freeman Contact Reporter
Excerpt: The San Diego Union Tribune: A San Diego education technology company is one of five finalists for the $7 million Barbara Bush Foundation “Adult Literacy XPrize”, which aims to improve reading skills via smartphone apps.

Learning Upgrade, a family-owned firm that produces reading and math lessons with music and animation reminiscent of the Schoolhouse Rock TV series, was named an XPrize finalist from an original pool of 109 teams from 15 countries.

The 10-employee firm will square off against the four other finalists in an ongoing 12,000-person field test being conducted in Los Angeles, Dallas and Philadelphia. Then a panel of judges will analyze which mobile app achieved the best results among adult learners. The winner will be announced in early 2019. See full The San Diego Union Tribune article:  SD Firm Named Finalist

2017-2018- “Learning Upgrade”  ARE XPRIZE SEMIFINALIST FOR ADULT LITERACY!
Only two teams are from the US West Coast, and only “Learning Upgrade” has Ocean Beach Animator Ray Blavatt! You’ve may have seen Ray’s cartoon drawings at the local OB coffee houses, but didn’t know he has been the animator for Learning Upgrade creating their titles that have taught millions of students. We are one step closer to eliminating the barriers to literacy learning for the over 36 million low literate adults living in the United States. See: https://adultliteracy.xprize.org/
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Kathy Blavatt

  1. KATHY BLAVATTS NEW BOOK On SALE— October 2020!
    “San Diego’s Sunset Cliffs Park • A History”
OB-Water-Book-cvr-sm
“OCEAN BEACH Where Land and Water Meet”, By Author Kathy Blavatt, Arcadia Publishing. Kathy premiered her book at the Ocean Beach Historical
Society
to a packed house.
The book is about the history and fabric of OB’s ocean community, made up of an assortment of characters, and spirited generations of individuals, who have left their loving mark through their homes, gardens, businesses, stories, achievements, and community activities. Includes beautiful rarely seen photos!
• Learn how important water has been in O.B.’s history.
• Chapters include: Local Color, The Greening of O.B. and The Children of O.B.
• See rare photos and learn interesting facts about O.B.’s founding families,
celebrities, early businesses, and fun loving kids.
   Learn about the unique community of Ocean Beach from the highlights of Kathy Blavatt’s latest book Ocean Beach Where Land and Water Meet.    Learn how water defines Ocean Beach by its unique location, where the Pacific Ocean meets the mouth of the San Diego River alongside Mission Bay.
Read about the assortment of characters, celebrities, and spirited individuals, who have left their loving mark through their homes, gardens, businesses and more. See rare photos and learn interesting facts about Ocean Beach. Kathy Blavatt, Award Winning Author and Historian.
San Diego Union Tribune Festival of Books
Sat., Aug. 24, 2019 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.with Kathy Blavatt, Ann Collins, Richard Crawford, Eric DuVall. Kathy and author friends had a wonderful time with a great audience at their presentation.
OBWC-Hat-Winners
Kathy Blavatt Wins the Ocean Beach Woman’s Club Hat Contest for
“Most Nostalgic Hat”
Kathy Blavatt was the Featured Speaker at the April 9, 2019 Ocean Beach Woman’s Club Program. She presented the history of OB women and the OBWC. She spoke about the past history of the OBWC having Floral Hat Contest. The club decide to bring back the contest/fundraiser. The event was held at “Culture” and three hat awards were presented. Kathy (left) won for her live flower hat. The night was a great success and the OBWC will continue  the tradition of the Hat Contest!

KB Q A PL OB Monthly 7.18

Kathy was interviewed
in the Point Loma OB Monthly July 2018  -Q&A
Check it out!

‘OB Shelf’ Coming to Ocean Beach Library
by on June 28, 2018 OB RAG· in Ocean Beach

OBbookhand2015 San Diego Book Award Winner “OCEAN BEACH”, By the Ocean Beach Historical Society and Arcadia Publishing— Kathy Blavatt, a Co-author, researcher, and helped in the collection and production of many of the photos and images. The book highlights the extraordinary history of this San Diego beach town with some never before published historical photos.
Loma-Theatre-Signing-2014The “OCEAN BEACH” book available at: The Ocean Beach Historical Society events, OB Holiday Crafts Fair, Olive Tree Market, Stumps, other local shops, and on-line thru Arcadia Publishing and other online venues. Photo, Co-Author Jonnie Wilson, Photographer Steve Rowell & Co-Author Kathy Blavatt

“Espresso Diaries II, 2nd Edition, O.B.’s Weird, Wild & Wonderful!” (sold out), a collection of unique Ocean Beach photos and witticisms by Kathy Blavatt. The book features O.B. photos she has taken over a couple decades that show the unique happenings, interesting people and animals that make up this wonderful beach community Espresso Diaries I(sold out)—  A book of cartoons by Ray Blavatt and photos by Kathy. The images include characters from O.B. Other themes that were inspired by coffee houses and their friends. Espresso Diaries is sold out, but may be reprinted in the future. Stay tune. Below- Author Kathy Bl;avatt’s books:
KB-Books-new10-in
March 2, 2018, Believe It or Not 2018 Conference! Speaker Kathy Blavatt presented  From Our Local Beach to the English Channel: The Amazing Achievements of the World Champion Water Women of Ocean Beach, AT THE PORTUGUESE HISTORIC CENTER in Point Loma, Local historians shared stories about their particular location. Visit www.CongressOfHistory.org

Postcard-KB-Falling-Sky

Gregory-PageKathy Blavatt’s 2009 Inspirations Reception at Edgeware Gallery (Kensington). Featured musician Gregory Page next to “Broken Heart” art by Kathy.
Below Left: Noble family around
Kathy’s “Full Moon” painting,
and below: Ken Brewer with his portrait by Kathy.Noble-Family-Kensington-KB-Rec

Ken-Brewer-KB-painting

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