Month: January 2018

Jan 25

#10For10 Challenge Donates to School on Wheels

Thank you to Colin Kaepernick and Jhene Aiko for recognizing School on Wheels and the work we do.

Day SEVEN of Ten:

Colin Kaepernick Donation: $10,000

Celebrity Match: Jhene Aiko $10,000

Organization: School on Wheels – Los Angeles Area



Colin Kaepernick and Jhene Aiko are donating $10,000 each to Schools on Wheels! Their donations will specifically pay for:

  • $15,000 for private tutor for 15 homeless students for 1 year
  • $5,000 for 10 students to attend summer camps
  • Art classes, music lessons, sports activities, etc

“I will donate one million dollars plus all the proceeds of my jersey sales from the 2016 season to organizations working in oppressed communities, 100k a month for 10 months.”Colin Kaepernick

Jan 23

DIY Girls Use Their STEM Skills For Good

Written by Zarina Yunis


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.

Jan 22

The NBCU Foundation Launches ‘Project Innovation’ Grant Program

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:

Project Innovation grant categories include:

  • 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.


Click here to learn more about The NBCUniversal Foundation and NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ past grant winners.

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.

Jan 19

Tutor Anniversaries January 2018

We would like to give a huge shout out to all of these amazing tutors who have volunteered with us for a year or more! We couldn’t impact the lives of thousands of children without you.

Nine Years
Linda Huddle

Eight Years
Hanna Duff
Janet Chacon

Six Years
Kailee Quinn

Five Years
Jeffrey Bryant
Stephanie Jost
Joseph Soulsby

Four Years
Marcia Pettway
Carly Smith
Polly Lee
Linda Gottlieb

Three Years
Jesse Valenzuela

Two Year
Rachel Earle
Deborah Myers
Geoffrey Theiss
Charissa Karmel Balandra
Barbara Match

 One Year 

Nicholas Ellis
Tony Baltazar
Mark Dupray
Mohkam Singh
Akash Nandi
Gianna Zinnen
Nellie Manoukian
Vicki Allen
Carla Guerrero
Gabriela Nunez
Alena McLucas
Max Boyter
Ani Shirinyan
Ameen Seyedroudbari
Melissa Boyter
Katrina Arabyan
Amy Tracewell
Emma Tracewell
Hamza Mirza
Diana Salcido
Marygrace Blum
Katherine Steuer
Louis Ehwerhemuepha
Laetitia Giannoni
Isha Jha
John Costello
Sarah Lohmar
Yukyung (Yuki) Jung



Jan 16

Ask A Tutor Tuesday – 1/16/2018

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] or use the #AskATutor hashtag on any of our social media sites.

Jan 9

Angela Sanchez, a blossoming L.A. writer, was once homeless – L.A. Times

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