My legal name is Samuel Van Stone Downing. I am a civic activist, political analyst, and community organizer. I am the founder and president of Van Stone Productions (VSP) Foundation, Inc. 501c3 serving in the state of Pennsylvania. VSP Foundation is a citywide non-profit assisting community organization that supports youth services, loss management, and public safety. VSP Foundation was founded in 1980. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from 1968 to 1970 I was enrolled in an all boy class at Alain Locke Elementary School. I attended and graduated from University City High School. I also served in the Philadelphia Business Academy during the Philadelphia Gang War Years (1977 to 1980), and learned how to turn much violence around with my activism involving Black American social and political newspapers, radio and television.
Attending Cheyney University in 1980, I found employment at Cheyney University. Beginning as a pre-school assistant, civics assistant, and radio station reporter I gradually moved up to assistant student teacher, and then president of student services. I also became the community relations student officer. I served in this capacity until 1985. I also have served as Chairman of the Van Stone Productions Foundation Urban Committee. From 1985 to 1995 I volunteered to work in the district where State Representative Lucien E. Blackwell served to reduce the gang problem that grew once again in Philadelphia. I worked with the Crisis Intervention Network, which received nationwide acclaim for its anti-crime and anti-gang programs in both West and South Philadelphia. From 1995 to 2002 I worked with the Urban League of Philadelphia.
In addition, I worked with social leaders to campaign against graffiti and the negative energy of youth artists. Young artists eventually painted murals on the walls throughout the city of Philadelphia instead of graffiti. In addition, I founded the Philadelphia Front Page News newspaper for a group of concerned citizens and businesses who wanted to support Philadelphia’s efforts to bring news and information to the Children, Youth, and senior community. It is a unique and valuable community resource, supported by the educational community, elected officials, business owners, unions and people from all over southern and western Philadelphia.
From 2001 to 2011 I founded a group for seniors, parents, and children called Socializing and Safety for Justice. The group is committed to building a stronger youth ministry progressive community, network and movement by putting "social" back in "social justice". I assigned a special task force through the City of Philadelphia targeting the South and West Philadelphia areas, etc., to deal with the crisis of economic hopelessness as well as organizing rallies for ending gun violence in Philadelphia. I was awarded the City of Philadelphia Citation and The Annual Honorable Lucien E. Blackwell Guiding Lights in the Community Award in 2008. It is given to exemplary Philadelphians.