Every year we have nonprofit partners join our RLI program to facilitate hands-on learning with RLI Fellows. Many of our nonprofit partners return year after year and several of them have RLI alumni now sitting on their boards.
We want to amplify the work and congratulate three of our outstanding nonprofit partners for their recent recognitions - Mar Vista Family Center for being selected for the Super Bowl LVI Legacy Program - Champions Live Here, Food Forward for receiving the same award as well as California Nonprofit of the Year and National Award for Innovation from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in previous years, and to Bunny Hull, the founder of Dream a World Education for being inducted into the Women Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Mar Vista Family Center
Mar Vista Family Center provides low-income families with quality early childhood education, youth enrichment, and educational tools to create positive change in their lives and communities. MVFC provides for more than 300 families, including educational resources for children, youth, and adults through enrichment programs to become successful and constructive members of their community. This year they are being recognized by the Superbowl Legacy Program and also as 2021 Nonprofit of the Year by Assemblymember Autumn Burk.
"After 43 years of serving the community, it feels amazing to be recognized! It’s a celebration of all the individuals that have contributed from the staff to the volunteers and the families who’ve all worked together to create a safe environment for everyone to enjoy. We’re grateful to our funders and partners that have been part of our journey throughout the years. Our hope is that MVFC will continue to be here for another 40 years, fostering new leaders everyday so that the children we serve now will be the ones who become the leaders of the organization in the future.”
During the pandemic MVFC staff, board, and volunteers stepped up to provide assistance to these families. Through computer and internet access for school-aged children, meal distribution, home assistance, mental health support, college counseling, tutoring, as well as shifting early childhood and youth programs online. Each year, with the support from staff, parents, and volunteers, 90-100% of their youth graduate from high school and go to college.
The number of individuals Mar Vista Family Center served has nearly doubled in the last year. They distributed 25,000 morning meals and 10,000 boxes with food, diapers, cleaning supplies, and masks, helped more than 100 families pay rent and bills, and handed out more than 300 Christmas gifts for children. With the support of so many wonderful people they are able to continue providing a safe home for so many families and individuals.
"Mar Vista Family Center has been fortunate to work with RLI Fellows for many years. Each one of them had contributed to essential changes of the organization. With their support we have been able to expand our board of directors, provide new services to our community, develop procedures, expand our individuals and corporate partnership and bringing new funding streams to the organization. Our partnership with RLI is a blessing because we have the opportunity to meet incredible people every year who brings passion and are committed to support nonprofit organization like Mar Vista Family Center."
Food Forward is a nonprofit organization that brings fresh surplus fruits and vegetables to people experiencing food insecurity in 8 counties in Southern California as well as tribal lands in Arizona and New Mexico. Their dedicated team of members and volunteers recover fruits and vegetables that would have otherwise been wasted from backyard fruit trees, public orchards, farmers markets, and the downtown Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market. They connect this abundance of nutritious food to people experiencing food insecurity, donating 100% of the produce recovered to hunger relief agencies
During the previous, unprecedented year, Food Forward rose to the occasion and in 2020, they recovered and distributed 62.5 Million pounds of fruits and vegetables to 358 direct service agencies. Additionally, through USDA’s Farmers to Families Box Program, a total of 901,742 boxes were distributed to those in need.
Food Forward has been recognized as California Nonprofit of the Year as well as National Award for Innovation from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in previous years, but more recently they were recognized by the Superbowl LVI Legacy Program – Champions Live Here. Food Forward continues to do remarkable work to help people experiencing food insecurity while promoting a healthier environment, greater economic resilience, and more equitable communities.
"Since 2017, Food Forward has been fortunate to work with three outstanding RLI Fellows on diverse projects like corporate engagement, organizational development, and program refinement and expansion. With the support of our Fellows, we've been able to develop free, fresh produce distributions in the Antelope Valley, expand our corporate partnerships and funding stream, and advance a learning culture. Each of our RLI Fellows has become an essential member of the Board of Directors, building on their important contributions and continuing to provide crucial expertise during a period of tremendous growth for Food Forward."
Dream a World Education Founder Bunny Hull
Bunny Hull, Grammy Award winner and Founder and Executive Director of Dream a World Education, a Los Angeles-based non-profit that delivers virtual and in-classroom arts-based social-emotional learning to young children, was inducted into the Women Songwriters Hall of Fame in a ceremony on June 25 at the Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. The award celebrates music’s finest songwriters and composers and pays homage to women "whose body of work represents the best of heritage and legacy of modern American music.”
“To be mentioned in the same breath as Roberta Flack, Valerie Simpson, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and the other honorees is beyond anything I could imagine. I can’t think of a better way to pay it forward than to provide children with the kind inspiration that I’ve been blessed to experience through music and the arts.”
Hull’s music and passion is driven by her dedication to the enrichment of the lives of young children. She has written, performed and produced multi-media products for children that garnered five Parent’s Choice Awards, two National Parenting Publications Awards, a Dr. Toy Award, Children’s Web Award, a Parents Guide to Children’s Media Award, a commendation from the City of Los Angeles, an Emmy® nomination for writing, producing and directing “The Ripple Effect” – a documentary about the work of Dream A World Education – and an Academics Choice Award for Secrets of the Heart™ TV, a children’s educational series.
Hull currently directs Secrets of the Heart II, Dream A World Education's new sequential learning program for children aged 4-8, designed to bring arts and social emotional learning to children around the world. The new series Series II will highlight Family and Community through a social justice and inclusivity lens by featuring overarching episode themes like Roots, Diversity and Identity.
For the program, Hull brought together a diverse team of Los Angeles artists like acclaimed visual artists Raul Baltazar and Yrneh Gabon, who will teach assemblage art and highlight the work of Betye Saar. She also brought on folk artist Sunny War and choreographer Kara Mack (Coming 2 America), who will teach West African Dance. Episodes of the program will feature the work of artists including Ella Fitzgerald and Mahalia Jackson, and will address determination, trauma, and healing through music sung during the Civil Rights era.
Dream a World Education focuses its attention on helping underserved communities, creating engaging programming to support young children, and providing an avenue to empower them via self-expression through the arts. Since the pandemic began, Dream a World expanded its virtual classroom programs across the United States, growing from 10 local schools to 40 schools across the country and abroad, reaching as far as South Africa and Hong Kong.
Congratulations to these three amazing nonprofits and their leaders! We appreciate they value they add to their communities and their commitment to equity in tackling wicked problems.