Startled by the alarming increase in homelessness in the past year, 12 Latina girls from San Fernando High School have taken it upon themselves to search for ways to help the homeless. These students are part of a program called DIY Girls, which “empowers girls to be confident makers and creators of technology,” according to the DIY (Do It Yourself) Girls’ website.
On a daily basis, these girls witness homelessness on the streets. They wanted to help the homeless families; however, donating money was not an option for their own low-income families. Despite their inability to contribute money, the girls weren’t about to let this obstacle prevent them from helping those who are less fortunate.
“With all the already existing programs in place to help end homelessness, we felt as if something more needed to be done to provide temporary relief to those who are displaced,” Paola Valtierra said in an email interview. Valtierra is a senior at San Fernando High School, and this will be her second year in the DIY Girls program.
Motivated to help the people in their community, the DIY girls got to work. They came up with the idea to create a solar-powered tent that could also function as a backpack. This one item could efficiently serve multiple needs and conserve space. The team of girls met frequently to work on the solar-powered tent, and a year later, they finished designing their prototype.
At times, the competition in the STEM field was intimidating for young Latina women. Evelyn Gomez, the executive director for DIY girls, recalls her experience at UCLA, getting her master’s degree in aerospace engineering. “I was often the only girl in the class and definitely the only Latina in the class. It felt like kind of imposter syndrome,” Gomez says, describing a feeling of chronic self-doubt even in the midst of evident success.
Nonetheless, the girls were determined to make a difference, regardless of their gender or race. They have not only made a positive impact on their community, but they have been role models for many other girls and have inspired them to pursue their passions.“Remember that there will always be obstacles in life but push through them because the outcome will be worth it,” Valtierra said.
Comcast NBCUniversal is committed to working with changemakers and local non-profit organizations that are driving positive change in their local communities by leveraging media, technology and innovation.
The NBCUniversal Foundation, in partnership with NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations, launched Project Innovation, a new grant challenge program in 11 markets where NBC and Telemundo-owned stations are located. Through Project Innovation, non-profit organizations that are using technology and innovation to solve everyday problems in their communities will be awarded grants to help support and expand their programs.
The NBCUniversal Foundation will award $225,000 amongst three to eight nonprofits in each of the 11 markets. The NBCUniversal Foundation will work closely with the owned stations to evaluate applications and choose winners in each market.
Apply for a Project Innovation grant by visiting your local NBC or Telemundo station website, in any of the following markets:
Igniting Civic Engagement: Programs that provide or expand opportunities for individuals to engage and volunteer in their communities, especially those that – in this digital age – leverage media and technology.
Skills for the Digital Economy: Programs that support middle-skills jobs training, adult career employment and readiness for advanced skills development programs in an effort to close the gap between education, income and prosperity in local communities.
STEM/STEAM Youth Programming: Programs that support K-12 youth education by encouraging and training the next generation of workers for advanced careers in STEM or STEAM fields.
Project Innovation expands on NBCUniversal’s commitment to promoting social good in local communities and builds on the success of The NBCUniversal Foundation’s previous grant challenge, 21st Century Solutions, which awarded nearly $6 million to local nonprofits over the past five years. Transitioning to Project Innovation will help The NBCUniversal Foundation continue to tackle important community issues by targeting key areas of importance while allowing for greater flexibility for grant applicants.
Project Innovation is poised to support established non-profits and those recently formed in each of the local markets. Through the program, The NBCUniversal Foundation and local NBC and Telemundo stations will award nearly $5 million over two years (2018 and 2019) to eligible non-profit organizations.
Project Innovation applications open on January 12, 2018, and close on February 2, 2018. Grant winners will be announced in March 2018.
For this month’s Ask A Tutor post, some of our tutors share their tutoring resolutions for the upcoming year. What are yours?
I tutor exclusively at shelters where homeless families stay for a few months. In the past I have focused almost completely on the students. However, they will only see me for a few months, and what they need is encouragement and help from their parents over the long term. So this year I am going to try to focus some of my attention on the parents and impart to them the important of consistently having their kid(s) do their homework and providing them with some resources to help them do that. Also, to consistently interact with their kids to teach them life skills and that there is nothing wrong with getting wrong answers, for each time is a chance to learn something new.–Richard Bennett
My 2018 tutoring resolution is to be consistent with my weekly tutoring sessions at Comunidad Cesar Chavez and not miss any sessions when the students are at school. If I do have to miss a session, I want to keep it to a minimum. I know the students I tutor look forward to our weekly sessions, and they always need help with their homework. Being consistent as a tutor will definitely help them close their academic gaps! –Natalie Platon
My 2018 resolution would be to use more resources such as Khan Academy and Teach My Monster to read to make sure my student gets to her reading grade level! I know that with the resources and my drive we will accomplish it!–Riley Hennessey
Thank you to all of our tutors for making 2017 an amazing year at School on Wheels. Here’s to an even better 2018!
Have a question for our Ask a Tutor feature? Email askatutor [at] schoolonwheels.org or use the #AskATutor hashtag on any of our social media sites.
Scruffy Dog of the children’s book “Scruffy and the Egg” was not always scruffy. He used to have well-groomed chestnut fur and a bright blue collar with a shiny gold tag. He used to be Fluffy Dog.
In her debut as an author and illustrator, L.A. native Angela Sanchez tells the story of the dog’s transformation as he loses his family and home, navigates life on the streets and befriends and adopts a lost egg.
The cohesive, expressively drawn book, which Sanchez crowdfunded and self-published last year, has a surprisingly optimistic tone considering its exploration of difficult circumstances and homelessness.
The book is also partly autobiographical.
Sanchez, 26, grew up in Glendale, where she shared a two-bedroom apartment with her father, an architectural draftsman by trade.
For a single dad with no safety net, familial support or four-year degree, the Great Recession was a devastating financial earthquake.
Sanchez was a junior at Herbert Hoover High School in fall 2007 when an eviction notice appeared on the door of her apartment. A week before Thanksgiving, police officers came knocking.
“At the time I didn’t fully understand what the prospect of going homeless meant,” Sanchez recalls. “My dad had lived in that apartment for 25 years. I had lived there all my life. It was home. To lose it was a big blow.”
Sanchez and her father spent the 2007 holiday season hopping from one motel to another. By January their credit ran out and they landed in an emergency church shelter. The rules of the shelter were strict and comforts minimal. They slept on military-style cots a few feet from strangers. There was no privacy, no shower and no breakfast.
The high school junior kept her homelessness a secret from everyone at school except a supportive principal and a handful of advisors who helped her with her college admissions essay.
“I didn’t tell my teachers because I wanted to be treated like every other student,” she says. “I didn’t want to drag homelessness with me into the classroom. At school I got to be the smart kid. That was my identity. I didn’t have to worry about anything else.”
On the weekends, Sanchez and her father had nowhere to go during the long hours when the shelter was closed.
You don’t realize how much time you spend in your home until you don’t have one anymore. – Angela Sanchez