The Legacy of a Great Education
Jose Garcia and Israel Corte (Izzy) are two entrepreneurial high school graduates with huge hearts, passion and a big Why. They are fortunate to have graduated from Environmental Charter School, Hawthorne. Environmental Charter is an exceptional school with a great mission
“To equip all students with the knowledge and skills to graduate from college, inspire them to discover their own sense of purpose, and to empower them to become quality stewards of their community and world.”
Their story and social venture inspires me and I hope it does you too.
I met Jose and Izzy as I was waiting in the small reception before a meeting with the CEO and founder of Environmental Charter and noticed them hunched over a laptop, very intently working on a project together. Always curious, I engaged them in conversation and learned from them, as graduates they are welcomed back to the school for the computer access and there they sat busy tweaking their newly launched website www.hopelaapparel.com . Hope LA is a social venture created specifically to provide other kids from neighborhoods, like their own in South Los Angeles, with the tools, resources and opportunity to stay safe, find their voices and be a part of the solution encouraging them to invest in themselves by participating in after school programs versus hanging on the streets. Jose and Izzy agreed to an interview with me to share their story.
Jose, is the founder of Hope LA, an artist, and student entrepreneur. He was inspired by NFTE a network for teaching students entrepreneurship and he entered a competition they host which awarded him funds to start a social venture. Jose told me,
“I went from classroom level, to school level, to semi regions, then regionals, and I leave to nationals in New York next week. So far I’ve been awarded a little over a thousand dollars in startup funds and I hope to win more in a week.”
A child of a single mother who held two jobs and went to college at night, she had the foresight to put him into an after school program, The Rock Club at Will Rogers Middle School in Lawndale, CA, Jose told me,
“Because of this program, I was able to develop a sense of belonging, confidence and a way to feel good about myself and gain recognition of talent as I learned the guitar. I wasn’t interested in hanging out on the streets because I had a place to go and found my passion in art and music.”
Understanding first hand, the struggles and the big gaps between the kids who don’t have a viable chance of making it to college such as those from more affluent districts, he wants to be a part of the solution and insure that more kids have the same opportunities he had.
Izzy, raised by his single mum, the second youngest of six children he is the first to graduate school in his family. He shared with me,
“I was feeling lost and felt I had no voice until my school councilor guided and encouraged me. Several mentors inspired me to realize my passions and encourage me to invest in myself through getting involved in the school council and other programs after school that provided me with self esteem and direction.”
Today he is enrolled in college and has a dream to graduate to Berkley and become a lawyer. He has joined forces with his school mate, Jose to make a difference and insure that other kids in similar circumstances benefit like they have.
To help them get started, Jose secured a printing press donation from the Will Rogers Middle School and contacted another talented entrepreneur who is helping them digitalize the designs to print his T-shirts.
Their goal is to raise funds to support after school programs in the least affluent areas of Los Angeles by selling apparel with designs that speak to their mission of Hope-LA created by the talented artists of these programs.
They launched their first online e-commerce site in August, it currently sells T-shirts and tanks emblazoned with Jose’s very cool Buddha art. Jose disclosed that their ultimate goal is to host competitions in schools across LA for the students in the after school programs to get involved and create their art for the apparel so they can also become a part of their movement. I am inspired by Jose and Izzy’s passion and want to support them in their entrepreneurial journey by sharing their mission.
Their first modest goal is to raise $1000 by January 1, 2014 and invest back into the after School program at the Will Rogers Middle school.
After the interview I left promising to buy a T-shirt online and share their story to help them get the word out. I would love to support them to exceed their objective. Will you help too?
If you are moved please take one or all of these actions:
- Visit their website http://www.hopelaapparel.com and make a purchase,
- Like their site on Facebook
- Share this story with your network and a request to support them.
The first week in October, Jose goes onto the nationals, stay tuned and I will give you an update on his progress.