This fall, Long Beach-based Urban Scientists doubled down on their commitment to #Community by coming together to assemble activity kits with Together We Rise, a non-profit that works to improve the lives of children in foster care. Through this day of service, the team expanded its support of the nonprofit following its receipt of a $1,000 Urban Science Community Giving Grant in November 2021. After learning the grant would be awarded, the group decided to amplify the charitable giving by making their own contributions, raising a total of $5,400 to benefit foster children.
Urban Science’s Community Giving Grant program is an annual corporate microgrant initiative that allows global team members to nominate nonprofits they’re passionate about for a chance to receive a $1,000 grant from the company. Once the nominations are in, Urban Science team members vote for the top 10 and microgrants are awarded to the nonprofits in honor of the employees who nominated them. This year’s winning organizations will be announced in early December (2022).
After putting off gathering in-person due to COVID-19 concerns, a group of 15 Long Beach team members worked together to construct 40 kits of four different varieties – birthday, STEM, superhero and sweet case. This activity is what the organization refers to as a virtual service project, during which unique, interactive projects are sponsored and put together by hands-on donors and volunteers, like our colleagues! Each kit holds a special meaning to a child in the foster care system.
- Birthday Boxes: When children are in the foster care system, they don’t always get to celebrate their birthdays. On average, children spend up to three birthdays while in the system. The birthday box provides children with goodies they can use to celebrate their special day with a birthday in a box!
- STEM Boxes: These boxes introduce the wonderful world of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) to children in foster care through hands-on experiments. The full STEM Box includes four science experiments, a lab coat, goggles, name tag lanyard, lightbulb cup and a full STEM-themed booklet. Children also receive a STEM-themed bookmark and an achievement frame to personalize.
- Sweet Cases: When children enter foster care, they are usually given two trash bags to carry their personal belongings in. The Sweet Case helps solve this problem. Each Sweet Case includes a brand-new duffel bag, stuffed animal, blanket, coloring book, a pack of crayons and a hygiene kit.
- Superhero Boxes: Superhero Boxes aim to help foster children feel S.U.P.E.R. (self assured, uplifted, proud, empowered and resilient)! Superhero Boxes come packed with a cape, mask, power cuffs and bracelet so the child can look like the hero they are! Kits also include a pencil, eraser, a bouncy ball, temporary tattoos, a Hero ID card and a super pillowcase for endless adventures, even in their dreams.
This is the second time our Long Beach office partnered with Together We Rise. Israel Romero, senior manager, introduced the team to the nonprofit in 2019 after a hearing the story of a family friend who adopted a child from foster care. In 2021, Jorge De Paz, exploratory analytics senior manager, reintroduced the cause, rallying the rest of his office and their support.
“As a team, we’re grateful to carry on the work Israel started with Together We Rise,” said De Paz. “By supporting this wonderful organization, we not only have an opportunity to come together and make a difference in our community, we also get to live our company’s core values in our professional and personal lives as well.”
Only a portion of the money Together We Rise raised through our team’s gifts was used to build the kits mentioned above. Remaining funds were dedicated to other initiatives, including a scholarship fund, emergency funding for basic needs and operational funding for the organization and Disney Days – a program that reunites siblings at Disneyland, also known as the “happiest place on earth.”
On behalf of Urban Scientists working around the globe, we salute our Long Beach team’s continued efforts to make its community a better place. Thanks for all you do.
Interested in learning more about Together We Rise? Click here for the scoop and for ways you can get involved!
About Together We Rise
Together We Rise is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization comprised of motivated young adults and former foster youth. Our vision is to improve the lives of children in foster care, who often find themselves forgotten and neglected by the public. We collaborate with individuals, companies, and community partners to bring resources to foster youth and use service-learning activities to educate volunteers on issues surrounding the foster care system.