We just gave Flavio a loan for $3000 to help pay for tuition. Flavio is now going to USC and will also be an intern for Immigranted. Win-Win! We're also excited to announce two other loan disbursements to Alicia Escobar, enrolled at California State University Northbridge, and Daniel Padilla Vega, who is pursuing his studies at USC.
As the national debate over immigration continues, the voices that often get shouted down are those of young people, those who were brought to the United States without documentation and given a pathway to legal status via a work permit, only to have the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, repealed from under them. “It’s definitely been stressful, and it’s definitely been heartbreaking” says Kenia Lopez, a former DACA recipient.
"Service to others is the rent you pay for room here on earth.”, Muhammed Ali. Many of us are blessed beyond measure. When we consistently take time to understand how fortunate we are, gratitude takes precedence over most problems we deem important. When gratitude and service hold hands something magical happens. You stop looking for things to do and you start finding what needs to be done.
Starting a non-profit can be a bit daunting. We didn't have the experience or the immediate know how needed to create an organization, yet we did embrace two important characteristics that are requirements when taking on the responsibility we bestowed upon ourselves. We had compassion while embracing ambiguity.
Our fundraisers are slowly becoming a terrific breeding ground for networking. The only thing that might be better than giving to our worthy cause is meeting like minded people along the way. At our most recent fundraising event in DTLA, Co-founder Mohit Jain invited his good friend Corey Sousa. He's head trainer and proprietor of Sculpt Fitness and Performance in Los Angeles, CA.
Last week Saturday, November 11th we hosted our second "Grant it Forward" Fundraiser. Aside from having a blast, we were able to raise over $3000 dollars in funding that night! The generous donations will allow us to fund two more micro-loans! Currently we have funded 3 with one more on the way. See our loan recipients.
The Mission Education Center is a K-5 school. Their students immigrated from Latin American countries - notably El-Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
These children came with their families with next to nothing and often times are escaping the unstable political environment and socioeconomic system of their respective countries.
Aside from the sheer culture shock of the United States, many haven't had formal education. The center serves as a transitional school to better prepare students for the traditional educational setting and there new life in America.
Carla A Llewelyn-Vasquez, Principal of the Mission Education Center stressed the importance of this place being a temporary stop because the ultimate goal is for students to be in school with children from all over the world.
Furthermore, she advised us that the Centers goal is to release students into the public education school system within a year.
Uber and Immigranted
The word serendipity comes to mind when thinking about how our organization and Uber partnered up.
Sarah Ahmed of Uber was actively looking for community outreach projects. Luckily, she didn't have to look far.
Monica Anand, Board Member & Director of Partnerships at Immigranted is best friends with Sarah's older sister.
When Sarah contacted Monica, she thought, "This would be a great fit to help the immigrant community right in our own backyard!" The two got together and within weeks planned a visit to the school.
Last month on Friday the 22nd of September, we teamed up with volunteers from Uber at the Mission Education Centers garden area.
The yellow school house is perched up on a hill in the Noe Valley district. Surrounded by the quintessential edwardian and victorian homes that San Francisco is known for, the school stands alone in the residential area. It was the last day of Indian summer and not a cloud in sight.
Before getting to our duties, Carla greeted everyone and gave us some history behind the center.
She gave us a tour of the school. A large cafeteria, spacious blacktop and neatly organized classrooms accompanied with everything you'd expect from an elementary school, brought back memories from yesteryear. The colorful playground was equipped with slides, monkey bars, swings and a beautiful garden area.
We first saw students in the Cafeteria. Many greeted us with smiles, a few with confusion and some with funny faces (our favorites).
In unison, the students cheered "Bienvenido!" It was a small gesture that put big smiles on our face and set a positive tone for the day.
After the tour, Carla advised everyone what needed to be done.
Some volunteers helped students with art projects, others played games on the playground, and the remainder of us worked to clean the garden area by pulling weeds, removing shrubs and raking leaves.
Although there was a language barrier between the volunteers and students, it somehow worked. After all, most communication is non-verbal. For example, Sarah went over to a group of students that were jumping rope and a crowd quickly gathered in single file line to take part in the fun.
Our Co-founder, Vishal Sharma took part in an intense game of soccer along with volunteers from Uber. The students were slightly rambunctious at first, but once teams were organized they got into the spirit and played their hearts out.
It's evident that these children are receptive and excited to see members of the community. It was a beckoning call to us at Immigranted and Uber to continue to support organizations like this.
Afterwards, Sarah and the rest of the Uber team shared with us how much they enjoyed this day and how they're excited to come back in the future!
After we left, Carla was pleased with the work we did and told us to stop by anytime because there is always more work to be done, but more importantly - the students enjoy it.
We believe it gives them a sense of home away from home.
To follow our journey as we grant it forward, please subscribe to our blog here.
Check out a great video clip of past event where we donated backpacks to the Mission Education Center. If you're moved and inspired by our cause, please donate here.
A few months ago our board members alongside family and friends filled 100 new backpacks with school supplies and personalized notes. We didn't expect such a big turnout. We sincerely appreciate everyone that volunteered their time. Also, a special thanks to the Kids in Need Foundation for helping us find an organization that needed help.
If Immigranted has taught us anything, it's that when people come together for a cause greater than themselves it creates hope for others.
Carla Vasquez, Principal of the Center enlightened us on their current challenges and the importance of acclimating students to the school system in America. She advised us that educating students with basic english, math and science skills will better prepare and put them on a path for success in the traditional school setting.
The Mission Education Center is a K-5 school. Most of the children are from El-Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala and come here with next to nothing. Many haven't had formal education yet. Schools like this are important to the community and continued support is needed.
We didn’t know what to expect, but upon visiting every classroom we were greeted with heart warming smiles. The language of gratitude is universal and the joyous expressions of the students was obvious and priceless.
Each student picked the backpack of their choice. They quickly scurried over to their desks upon hearing there is more inside. To our surprise, the first thing many students looked at wasn't the pencils, notebooks or folders. Instead they looked at the personalized notes our volunteers wrote. Even in our fast paced world, a hand-written note still has the ability to inspire and a put a smile on our faces.
Why we will continue
Immigranted started in early March. We had a rudimentary plan of what we wanted our organization to become, but it's slowly becoming more than we expected. Most of our efforts will still be geared to assisting students like Luis Cortes pay for school, but community outreach in the educational space like the Mission Education Center will be ongoing.
Currently we are in the infant stages of planning our next event which will happen later this year in So Cal.
To follow our journey as we grant it forward, please subscribe to our blog here.
Check out a great video clip of our backpack drive. If you are moved and inspired by our cause, please donate here.