Operation Clean Slate founder given Mayor’s Award


On Tuesday July 5, Mayor Steve Mensinger presented Michael Howard, the founder and executive director of Operation Clean Slate, with the Mayor’s Award to recognize the work his nonprofit has done to deter youths from vandalizing property with graffiti by having them paint murals instead.

“For your years of service to this community, your extraordinary leadership, and your passion for working with youth and providing them with a positive outlet for their creativity, it is my honor and privilege to present you with the Mayor’s Award,” Mensinger said.

Based in Costa Mesa, Operation Clean Slate has partnered with over 25,000 volunteers and produced over 1,000 murals at more than 800 schools throughout Southern California and in six other countries.

Howard started the nonprofit back in 1993 as a solution to graffiti and vandalism while teaching at juvenile hall.

In Costa Mesa, Operation Clean Slate has painted more than 45 murals on 16 different school campuses, including Rea Elementary which now has five, They have also painted murals around town at Bark Park, Mesa Water District, Doria’s Haus of Pizza and New Directions for Women.

“It’s an honor and I’m really excited that the arts are being acknowledged,” Howard said upon receiving the award. “It’s great to have the community recognize what we are doing and we are going to keep doing it.”