Philanthropy in Action

By Michaela Katz, Jewish Teen Foundation Alumnae

On Friday March 1, the Marin/SF Jewish Teen Foundation alumni and one member of the Marin/SF Jewish Teen Foundation Leadership Council visited Canal Alliance, an organization that the MSFJTF donated to in 2012 to see the effect of our grant to their Youth Scholarship Program (YSP).

During our site visit, we were blessed with the opportunity to see a mural that many of the kids worked on last year called “True Colors”. In order to complete the mural, the kids in charge of the project had to gain approval from city council and say that the mural was a collaboration and that everyone’s design ideas were put in the mural. As student David said, “True Colors” is about “revealing who you are and what you want to do with yourself.”

Our tour continued into the YSP buildings where the rooms are named after colleges, both local and national, to motivate students and demonstrate that it is possible for all to succeed and go to a four year university. Says Erik, a youth educator, “Every student here [at YSP] is prepared to be successful.” The Youth Scholarship Program mandates that both parents and children sign a contract and although the program is free, parents are asked to attend monthly parent forums to keep them involved and informed. Director of Communications, Joshua Castro, said, “There is a waiting list for YSP and it is not an opportunity to be taken for granted. The kids who are here want to be here.”

Both Jesús and David, the two students we met with on our tour, were very grateful to have been given the opportunities granted to them through Canal Alliance and the Youth Scholarship Program.  “I found myself,” David said. “This is the beginning of something great, of my future. They [Canal Alliance and its teachers] saw a lot of potential in me and knew what opportunities to give me.” Jesús added, “It’s been a big deal. I wasn’t a good kid but I’ve gotten a lot better and I have friends, advocates, confidants…I can’t explain it -- it’s a safe community and they’re my people. I will never forget this, Canal Alliance teaches you so you can do something with yourself in the future.”

In addition to the Youth Scholarship program, Canal Alliance also offers immigration legal services, education opportunities, economic development, ESL and computer classes, and family services. These programs are either free or have a very small reduced cost.

Visiting Canal Alliance was a meaningful way to learn more about the Youth Scholarship Program and the effect that our money had on these students. It was inspiring to see these students with goals that they are determined to reach and hope for their future. I can say with confidence that the grant made last year went to a good place and I am proud to have put our grant to such an amazing organization.

Canal Alliance youth leader Jesus (far left), with Michaela (second from left) and other MSFJTF teens, spearheaded this amazing mural outside the organization. Jesus has visited MSFJTF twice to talk about Canal Alliance over the years. Canal Alliance youth leader Jesus (far left), with Michaela (second from left) and other MSFJTF teens, spearheaded this amazing mural outside the organization. Jesus has visited MSFJTF twice to talk about Canal Alliance over the years.

 

Posted

June 04, 2013

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