Our 2016 grant recipients included six new organizations in Sonoma, Oakland, and San Francisco counties. We also partnered with three organizations that were past recipients of our annual grants.
On May 21, The Futures Project attended the 1st Annual Cardinal Newman Fund-A-Future Breakfast as one of the guest speakers to support raising financial assistance for Cardinal Newman students. The Futures Project sponsors the Cardinal Newman Youth Education Scholarship, which is a four-year full tuition scholarship.
In November 2015, I traveled to rural Malawi to build 2 schools through the not-for- profit buildOn (http://www.buildon.org/). Throughout the year before, a group of friends and I fund raised $150,000 to build 2 schools in the Kasungu region of Malawi. We spent the week working, living and playing soccer (futbol) among the locals. As a group, we were able to finish digging and pouring cement into the foundation of the school structure. We also dug the foundation of a new water pump and several latrines. The all-volunteer local labor assisting us in our construction efforts was entirely from the surrounding village. Together, we worked the old- fashioned way, with picks and shovels to dig the foundation, buckets, sand and water (carried on top of the head from the nearest water pump a quarter mile away) to mix the cement by hand.
This is my third opportunity getting to travel abroad to build a school with buildOn (Nepal, Nicaragua and now, Malawi). Each experience and culture I have encountered is distinctly unique but the overall connection to people is similar everywhere you travel. All people have fundamental needs and rights - I believe access to education is one of them. The first day we arrived in the village, the locals welcomed us like celebrities because they had been living in the darkness and sensed that we, working with buildOn, could bring them into the light. This darkness is illiteracy which prevents them from taking the bus into larger towns to buy food because they can't read the signs or vulnerable to being shorted when they sell their crops to brokers. Starting in January 2016, 150 boys and girls will attend each of the two schools where they will have the opportunity to learn to read, write and count among other subjects. The schools will also have adult literacy programs.
This summer we had the opportunity to visit several of our 2014 grant recipients and see their work in action. Part of our objective along with providing financial grants is to form a personal relationship with the organizations and those being served.
At the Covenant House we met with the Associate Executive Director and the Development Officer at their facility near Lake Merritt in Oakland and discussed issues surrounding child homelessness in the Bay Area and the services provided and challenges faced by the non-profit. We were also fortunate to meet with Kamera, a 19 year old who grew up in Vallejo and came to Covenant House in January. Kamera works as a caregiver for the elderly and people with disabilities and started a Certified Nursing Program this year with a scholarship from The Futures Project.
In Occidental we met with Justus Dobrin of Quinn's Kids and Paul Raia of CYO Camp, where our donation is being used to provide multi-year camperships for at-risk Bay Area youth. This year The Futures Project sponsored Chuck and Alexio, who spent part of their summer at CYO Camp in the beautiful Sonoma County outdoors with kids from all over, making connections with campers, counselors and staff. Alexio was among the younger campers while Chuck is looking to transition into being a counselor in the years ahead. Justus, who is the cousin of Quinn Boyer, has formed a unique bond with Chuck who suffered a gun shot wound the day after Quinn was killed.
A little over a year ago we started running The Futures Project and are excited to launch the website for our foundation. We look forward to supporting education and youth development programs within the Bay Area, as well as promoting juvenile justice by partnering with organizations, charities and schools. With the help from others, we hope to bring awareness to the many great people and programs that are dedicated to service.