Bridging Educational Equity Gaps with Illumination Foundation | Dreams for Schools
Browsing Through Web Development with Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano
May 4, 2021
Dreams for Schools STEAM Scholarship Award presented by Neudesic – Spring 2021 Recipients
May 21, 2021

Bridging Educational Equity Gaps with Illumination Foundation

Dreams for Schools (DFS) and Illumination Foundation have partnered to bring K-12 STEAM Coding & Technology classes to the students in the rapid rehousing and transitional housing shelters of Illumination Foundation in Orange County, CA. Both organizations believe in closing the digital equity gap and ensuring that quality educational programs can play a role in disrupting the cycle of homelessness in Southern California— making this a perfect partnership.

Dreams for Schools (DFS) and Illumination Foundation have partnered to bring K-12 STEAM Coding & Technology classes to the students in the rapid rehousing and transitional housing shelters of Illumination Foundation in Orange County, CA. Both organizations believe in closing the digital equity gap and ensuring that quality educational programs can play a role in disrupting the cycle of homelessness in Southern California— making this a perfect partnership.

As a STEAM education non-profit organization, DFS works to advance education equity by bridging gaps in STEAM education, with an emphasis on computer science, by working with a range of community stakeholders from K-12 students, educators, schools, districts, as well as higher education students to provide educational programs that would not otherwise be available to our clients. DFS’s primary programs include 1) STEAM Curriculum Development, 2) K-12 STEAM Classes, 3) Vocational Opportunities for STEAM Higher Ed Students, 4) Professional Development for Educators and 5) Scholarships for STEAM Higher Ed Students. 

At the Illumination Foundation, they believe that every person has an intrinsic right to home, health, and dignity. Illumination’s mission is to disrupt the cycle of homelessness in Southern California by providing a comprehensive safety net of client-centered services for the most vulnerable individuals, families, and children in Orange, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino counties. Illumination Foundation goes beyond just housing people who are experiencing homelessness—from street to home, we provide a full continuum of care and resources to bring people the support they need.

In 2020, throughout the pandemic, Illumination Foundation has served 5,216 clients, providing shelter, health care, counseling, connections to social services, housing, and hope. This is just a small snapshot of the impact Illumination Foundation has had on disrupting the cycle of homelessness, and the extra mile they have been able to go for those affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, Dreams for Schools ensured program continuity and expanded programming to serve 1,162 students and employ a total of 48 instructors. These efforts have built upon 2019 accomplishments – partnering with 59 schools, serving 903 students, as well as training and employing 212 instructors recruited from STEM programs at local colleges and universities.

During the Spring 2021 pilot class, a total of 19 kids in grades 1st – 8th participated in the Let’s Explore STEM (1st – 2nd grade), Coding Games with Scratch (3rd – 5th grade), and Web Development (6th – 8th grade). Classes were taught by DFS Instructors: Dejie Zhen, Julie Tran, Lena Nguyen, and Sydney Eads. The students are incredibly inspiring to work with and talented as well. Our instructors see their energy, engagement, and creativity in every class! 

“This year has been a wake up call for our education system and finding ways to effectively support students in different communities. We’ve found ways to reach students through a diverse group of partners. With this new partnership with Illumination Foundation, we’re excited to meet students where they are and offer Coding, Technology & Engineering programs that help students explore their skillsets and prepare them for dynamic careers of the future.” – Nithin Jilla, Executive Director, Dreams for Schools 

“The past year has been filled with challenges, hardship and uncertainty for all of us. The struggle and despair of vulnerable individuals and families has never been greater. Our partnership with Dreams For Schools ensures that every child in our program has the opportunity to learn, grow, develop and DREAM!” – Paul Leon, CEO, Illumination Foundation

Students will be presenting their games & websites at the showcases in early June. Thank you to the DFS corporate partners for helping support this collaboration. 

For more information on Illumination Foundation, please visit: https://www.ifhomeless.org/ 

If you would like to help support STEAM classes with Illumination Foundation, please contact us [email protected] 

Parent & Student Testimonials

What I like about this program is that it gives me the ability to learn something. Every Thursday and every Tuesday, it just keeps me busy instead of just sitting here,  and the first time that I saw Illumination Foundation and this program, I saw that they were trying to help me and help me grow and learn and when I saw this, I was so excited and then soon when I came onto this program, I started to like it and learn more and more and even have something in my head and it inspires me to have more ideas and even create my own website which is, what I’m going to be needing to do soon and I’ve been planning  to do that and I also got burned out on one point until my idea came back again, because of this program. So, I thank this program for all what it’s done and all what it’s done for me to help me grow. Thank you!

Tyson P.

Student, Web Development

The class is really fun and cool. It is helping me out with Math and not be fearful about it, it is making me more confident about my math skills.

Zimone B.

Student, Web Development

She is enjoying the stuff that she loves; the class is fun and interactive. They are having fund and learning and the class is tailored to them, It is not overwhelming. She is also learning job skills and communication skills. The instructor is treating the students professionally, treating them as interns but raising them higher. I like seeing my daughter progress and doing her work. I want to stress how professional the instructor sounds, she knows her job and she is also modeling how to communicate and behave. 

Easther P.

Parent, Web Development

I am very thrilled to have been given the opportunity to enroll my son in a program such as this. The reason being is that Tyson pre-pandemic, used to go to class for coding and when the pandemic actually happened, he was halfway through his coding skills and there wasn’t a program available through his school that allowed him to advance in this area. Now when I was approached by Illumination Foundation that these coding and web design were available, I immediately knew what to do. Therefore, I did not hesitate to sign him up and as I been watching his development doing these classes and sessions, it also helped him to advance in his creativity even developing an interest into becoming a cartoonist. He has already came up with characters, he drew characters of what he wanted them to look like so coding also plays a part in web design as well so I think this program actually helped Tyson’s mental creativity to advance and expand. I’m absolutely grateful to whoever is in charge of coming up with this idea to help children like my son and the fact that my son is very talented in his own right, this just actually became an extra benefit as well, he enjoys it, he loves to share what he’s learned and he understands it, he gets it, and it’s such a pleasure just to watch him just shine in this own right and element so thank you very much. 

Johanna P.

Parent, Web Development

My kids really enjoy going to class. They always talk about it after class. Both my children are a little bit shy but they participate in class. They always try to be ready when the class starts, they pay attention and they like going to the classes. It is helping them, because they are not outside, watching tv or on the phone and they are doing something productive

Selma G.

Parent, Coding Games with Scratch

Let’s Explore STEM Class

Students learn about STEAM through project based experiences such as creating binary bracelets, butterfly life cycles, space rockets, and more.

Coding Games with Scratch Class

Students learn computer science fundamentals by creating their own mini-game using block-based coding in Scratch.

Web Development Class

Students in the web development class learn how to use HTML, CSS, and the Bootstrap framework to create their own websites about their interests and hobbies.

WebDev x IF