South LA tech mentor contender for national STEM award

Daphne Bradford invites Mayor Eric Garcetti to watch her students tackle coding projects. | Willa Seidenberg

Daphne Bradford invites Mayor Eric Garcetti to watch her students tackle coding projects at the “Coding with STEAM” event held at Dorsey High in July 2014. | Willa Seidenberg

The nationally acclaimed founder and president of a South L.A. tech-education nonprofit, Daphne Bradford, was nominated this fall for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. The White House Office of Science and Technology and the National Science Foundation gives this award to organizations and individuals who have shown outstanding leadership with aspiring scientists and engineers from underrepresented communities.

Bradford will be competing against college level professors for this award; her students are high schoolers. The teacher said she feels younger students have not had enough exposure to science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) in their schools’ curricula. Her program, Mother of Many, which offers digital media skills for students at Dorsey and Crenshaw high schools, aims to bridge this teaching gap. [Read more…]

Crenshaw Digital Media Team develops an app for healthy eating

By Kevin Rivera
Crenshaw High School Senior

Going Banana’s for Health is the first game developed and designed by Mother Of Many’s Crenshaw High School Digital Media & Garden Team. Our digital media instructor, Ms. Daphne Bradford, the founder and CEO of Mother Of Many, opened the Windows 8 gaming opportunity for us when she was recognized by Microsoft as one the top innovative educators in the nation. Going Banana’s for Health was inspired by our Change What You Eat, Change How You Feel! healthy eating program supporting First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Initiative. Team members Esaul Parra, Kevin Rivera and Domonic Wilks developed the app.


The purpose of Going Banana’s for Health is to encourage adolescents to change their eating habits by making healthier choices. The game has three levels. The goal of each level is to drop Apple Dapple into Little Johnny’s mouth to avoid the danger of Little Johnny from being fed awful, unhealthy hot chips that most kids love. Each time you advance from level 1 to level 3, Little Johnny gets healthier if Apple Dapple makes it into his mouth.

The Level 1 challenge is to have Apple Dapple go jump through some platforms and eliminate the threat of the hot chips. As Apple Dapple jumps from various platforms, the player racks up points for destroying a bag by shooting Apple Dapple seeds at the bag of hot chips.

The game gets faster at Level 2. The goal is to rapidly get rid of the hot chips at a fast pace. The focus of this level is to jump on platforms as they move at different speeds. While that’s happening, you have to destroy the hot chips moving along the platforms by shooting Apple Dapple seeds. In doing so, the player can easily obtain a high score for jumping through these platforms in hopes of not falling off.

Level 3 is all about avoiding the vending machine dropping hot chips. The chips are dispensed from a vending machine-like box right next to Little Johnny. In order to reach him, Apple Dapple has to destroy all the hot chips sliding down a ramp towards him. After the player destroys the hot chips, Apple Dapple can go up the ramp without any threat and feed Little Johnny.

imageAuthor Kevin Rivera, one of the developers of the Crenshaw Digital Media Team’s healthy eating app.

When Apple Dapple eliminates the hot chips then it shows an example of how adolescence can choose to get rid of the junk food in their diet and go for the healthy alternative.

It was really fun programming Going Banana’s for Health. We used our Windows 7 laptop to make it for the Windows 8 App Store. This experience was like playing football without a football and still scoring a touchdown. Awesome!”
– Esaul Parra

“Who would’ve thought that I went from learning how to eat properly to making a game based off that? I actually made my first game with my Crenshaw high school peers for the Windows 8 App store. People like my peers and I are going to be the future.”
– Kevin Rivera

imageDomonic Wilks and Kevin Rivera with Crenshaw High School teacher Jacqueline Lopez.

Mother Of Many is launching a social media fundraising campaign in an effort to get a minimum of 1,000 people to donate $10 a month.

“Our grant with the California Endowment is coming to end and I’m hoping and praying M.O.M.’s Facebook and Twitter family and followers will give up one unhealthy meal or two Starbucks Coffees or Happy Hour drinks a month to support innovative education,” said Bradford.

If you would like to support Mother Of Many students visit www.MotherofMany and click the “Donate Now” button to make your $10.00 a month donation.

Actor Hill Harper joins Crenshaw students for book signing

imageStudents at Crenshaw High School in South Los Angeles unveiled a book Wednesday that they wrote about their year-long effort to visit the White House.

The students signed copies of their book, “Journey to the White House: An Educational Blueprint for Change in Action,” alongside actor Hill Harper from CSI: NY. Harper was also signing copies of his books “Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny” and “Letters to a Young Sister: DeFINE Your Destiny.”

“We’re all in this together,” Harper said of his passion for helping students. “Education is what we need to be focused on.”

The student authors are part of the Crenshaw Digital Media Team that meets after school to learn about photography, video and other media tools. Their book is being published both in paper and as an eBook.

The journey began when their teacher and mentor Daphne Bradford, founder of the non-profit organization Mother of Many challenged her students to become the type of 21st century classroom that President Obama envisioned in his 2010 Blueprint for Change in Education.

The students wrote letters to the President asking to be invited to the White House. When their requests when unanswered, they decided they needed to make a bigger impression.

They put their multimedia skills to use and created video letters and burned them to a disc, that Bradford was able to hand directly to President Obama when he was in Los Angeles for a rally.

“Once we got invited to come, we had to fund-raise and we made calendars and went around to businesses and organizations,” said Trestan Fairweather, a 17-year-old senior at Crenshaw High School.

When the students got to the White House In September of 2010, they were given a tour by the White House chef and they established a partnership with the White House kitchen to start growing food at home to better the community.

Fairweather’s first impression of the White House was just how enormous it was.

“It was very, very, very big,” he said. “Almost too big for just one family.”

The students also met with the President’s web team who showed them how the White House media presence — Twitter, Facebook, photos, etc. — is run.

“They had really cool advice on how to run our own media too,” Fairweather said.

The book signing was sponsored by the NAACP Beverly Hills/Hollywood chapter.

“We felt this was another opportunity to help these students see a different future for themselves,” said the chapter president Ron Hasson. “We thought Harper could really relate to the kids and give back.”

Order hard copies of the book at ($25.00), digital book purchase for $19.99 at the Barnes and Noble Nook store, iBookstore and ePub at

Obama Administration official visits Crenshaw High School garden

Story by: Kevin Rivera, Crenshaw High School Digital Media Team

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Region IX Director, Herb Schultz, recently visited the Mother Of Many garden partnership program at Crenshaw High School. The visit began with a meeting in the library where the Crenshaw Digital Media Team and the Cooking Live with Dorsey High culinary team members, teachers, parents and Mother Of Many supporters introduced themselves to Mr. Schultz. After introducing himself and telling us to call him Herb, he mentioned a lot about his profession and his main objective of helping First Lady Michelle Obama get students involved with healthy eating and exercise. Digital Media Team member Bryce Bailey found Herb to be “shockingly a cool person” after learning about his Health and Human Services background.

After all the introductions, my fellow peers and I shared our experiences about our Journey to the White House project and actually going to Washington, D.C to visit the White House and the Let’s Move team in person. To me, going to Washington D.C and stepping foot inside the White House was a dream to never be forgotten. When I saw the look on my peers’ faces, I knew that being there was no joke at all. We all deserved to make it inside the White House and we feel phenomenal about enjoying our time meeting the First Family’s personal chef, Sam Kass, and interacting with President Obama’s new media team.

Crenshaw Digital Media Team member and landscaping student Esual Parra presented Herb with our signature Destination: Change t-shirt as a welcome gift. Herb put it on right away to show his support for our Change What You Eat, Change How You Feel healthy eating campaign. Esaul also asked Herb if Let’s Move only partners with elementary schools. Herb’s response to Esaul’s question gave us all hope that the Mother Of Many Crenshaw and Dorsey partnership could be the first Let’s Move high school model.

“I have a very strong interest in seeing Let’s Move come to high schools, middle schools and that’s something that [Let’s Move Executive Director] Robin Schepper and the whole team is sort of talking about. You certainly have my commitment that I will be talking with the First Lady’s office, with the President’s Office, with the Secretary [of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius] about trying to expand,” said the Health and Human Services Region IX Director.

After hearing this everyone encouraged Herb to tour the garden. Wowed! by what he saw, the very down-to-earth Schultz planted some tomatoes and cabbage in the garden with us. We also treated Herb to a healthy 3-Bean-Turkey-Chili-Delight lunch prepared by our Dorsey high school culinary partners. The Dorsey team also served Herb breakfast during his tour of the school’s state of the art kitchen.
At the end of the day Herb sat down with Intersections South LA reporter Sarah Golden and talked about his visit with Mother Of Many students, teachers, parents and supporters at Crenshaw and Dorsey high schools.

Click here to see how much fun Herb had with us:

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Crenshaw garden cleanup honors Dr. King

More than 150 volunteers honored the memory and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on January 17h by weeding, tilling and planting at the Crenshaw High School Garden.

Organizing for America (OFA) sponsored the Martin Luther King Day of service and is a major supporter of Mother Of Many’s Change What You Eat, Change How You Feel healthy eating campaign led by the Crenshaw Digital Media Team.

Monday’s event had Crenshaw students, teachers and parents, along with volunteers from OFA and community members out working in the hot sun to beautify the 2.5 acre garden space, which hasn’t been fully used since the 1990s.

Watch a slideshow of the garden cleanup:

The garden cleanup was speaheaded by OFA’s Mary Jane Stevenson, Mother of Many’s Daphne Bradford and Crenshaw teacher Sandra Luna. The cleanup comes just days before the Crenshaw Digital Media Team will host a “Let’s Move” visit with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Regional IX Director Herb Schultz. Schultz, who will visit the garden on January 20, 2011, was recently appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as Regional Director at the U.S. Department of HHS Region IX. His visit is the result of the Mother Of Many Journey to the White House trip where the Crenshaw Digital Media Team toured the White House garden and delivered a pitch requesting the opportunity to partner with the First Lady in support of Mrs. Obama’s Let’s Move initiative.

Mr. Schultz will discuss how the students can partner with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in supporting the Let’s Move four pillars:
1) Help parents make healthy family choices
2) Create healthy schools
3) Provide access to healthy and affordable food
4) Promote physical activity

To donate to Mother of Many’s Crenshaw High School Garden project, click here.

Community organizations breakdown digital barriers

A demure smile and a thin, black metal clip holding midnight black hair from covering her right eye define Laura Arguello’s face. Hers is also a face that could characterize California’s slimming digital divide.

The 21-year-old is the poster child for the closure of the state’s once magnanimous separation between people with and without access to computers, broadband Internet and the skills needed to use software and hardware in the workplace.

What once was a dramatic discrepancy between the technological haves and have-nots is quickly closing, according to the Public Policy Institute of California’s (PPIC) Statewide Surveys. California’s Internet usage was relatively stable from 2000 to 2008, but access has dramatically increased the last two years – even during a severe recession.

Only 70 percent of Californians used the Internet while only 55 percent of Californians had access to broadband Internet in 2008. A survey done by PPIC this August showed those numbers have jumped: 81 percent have Internet access and broadband access has climbed 15 percent. Both numbers rank above the national average provided by the 2010 Pew Internet & American Life Project survey.

imageThe battery pack supplying this digital shift is people and organizations highly invested in the community, like Arguello and Community Development Technologies (CDTech) in South Los Angeles.
Arguello first came to CDTech, an organization “dedicated to promoting economic opportunities” for low-income Los Angeles residents, with the goal of furthering her computer skills. She took the non-profit institute’s intermediate computers class hoping to learn more about web design.

Under the guidance of Patricia Celidon, CDTech’s director of technology and training, Arguello is now learning advanced web site design.

“She is basically teaching me everything I need step-by-step,” Arguello said. “[The CDTech teachers] explain things really careful and simple so we can learn sooner.”

Arguello’s goal is to have her own web site design company in the next five years. She wants to help small businesses in the area grow digitally as well. Indeed, Arguello is already volunteering her time at CDTech as a teacher assistant.

“Their programs are free and they are really helping others. And it’s really improving the community,” Arguello said.

One way CDTech is helping is through partnerships. It is currently a partner with nine like-minded programs helping to serve underprivileged neighborhoods, such as those in South Los Angeles communities. Those partnerships have been with both local and global organizations.

CDTech partnered with One Economy — a global non-profit organization that strives to connect underserved areas and turn them into “21st century communities” with free broadband internet access.
One Economy worked with local housing developments to provide that access, including more than 100 homes in the Vernon-Central area of South Los Angeles. In the greater Los Angeles area, One
Economy asserts it has connected 5,609 households in 157 projects with 40 affordable housing developers.

But for CDTech, the goal is not only helping connect residents to internet access. They also provide strategic training to enable residents to be able to use new technologies to succeed.

Celidon said CDTech started with bilingual adult classes and intensive youth workshops for 17 to 25-year-olds. The workshops, attended by about 150 youth, lasted four weeks of 80 total hours of training. The training focused on hardware (computer refurbishing), software (Microsoft Office), digital multimedia and leadership development. The workshop was so successful CDTech was recently able to hire three of the trainees.

Parents are happy, according to Celidon, because CDTech provides parental online training to help parents monitor their children’s social network accounts and web browsing.

Intent on aiding the estimated 110,000 people of the South Los Angeles zip code of 90011, CDTech went into the school system, partnering with Carver Middle School in the Vernon-Central area. The partnership is now nearly three years old.

Originally the Carver students came to the CDTech due to a lack of computers available at the school, Celidon said. But through youth workshop training, CDTech was able to refurbish 110 computers at the Los Angeles Unified School District warehouse and provide them to Carver.

“We have a large investment in the schools,” Celidon said. “We found out [that] the middle school-aged kids – a lot of them fall through the cracks.”

CDTech has been able to attack the digital divide at an early age saturating the school with computer learning and interactive teaching. CDTech workers have been paired with teachers to infuse visually stimulating learning tools, such as an Adobe Flash demonstration of the shifting earth of plate tectonics, into the curriculum.

“It was really fun to put science, learning and the technology together. The kids were so happy,” Celidon said.

At Crenshaw High School, Daphne Bradford, an Apple Distinguished Educator, saw the same enthusiasm for technology.

“A lot of students are bored in other classes and get excited in my class.”

In Bradford’s class, students learn about digital mediums and discover the opportunity to produce their own slideshows, videos and other digital content.

Bradford said the students have responded well to opportunities to select their own topics, which keeps them actively engaged with the stories they are composing. The 25 hand-selected students, from all grades and GPA-levels, learn more than just computer programs, though. One of Bradford’s goals is to have the students connect to the educational value, both “in real life and the classroom,” of learning about technology.

“It’s definitely empowering [the students] in the classroom,” she said. “We are seeing that immediately. When I first got [to Crenshaw], the kids didn’t know how to search the Internet to help with their homework. Now, [the class] is inspiring a lot of creative content, especially in English classes.”

The students also see digital media applications used in the workplace. The class, which is only offered in the spring, sends students to career days at NBC and ABC. The students also work with the Ogilvy & Mather advertising agency.

“Some of the students see [digital media in the workplace] and want to go into those fields,” Bradford said. “[The class] is introducing the kids into a whole new career pathway. It’s more than just fun and games; digital media makes the world go around.”

Because Bradford is an Apple certified digital media instructor, students in the class have the opportunity to receive Apple certification, which can help them get a job when they leave high school.

While individuals like Arguello, Bradford and Celidon are working locally, the state is also making strides to decrease the technological access gap. A large step was taken in 2005 when California’s Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) was created by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

The CPUC required AT&T and Verizon to contribute $60 million over a five-year period as a condition of the SBC-AT&T and Verizon-MCI mergers. The goal was to create a guiding light for the nation by bridging the digital divide.

“To close the digital divide in the nation,” said CETF Senior Vice President Susan Walters, “we have to close it here in California.”

Luis Arteaga, CETF’s Director of Emerging Markets, said the non-profit corporation had to be careful with how to best use the funds. It used a number of focus groups to determine the most effective strategies to reach California’s disconnected population.

The fund has provided a number of grants to local programs such as CDTech, which was financed by CETF for two years. CETF has also done a number of community connect fairs where they showcase new technology and show residents how to get connected. At last year’s Taste of Soul festival in Crenshaw, CETF had a computer giveaway as part of one of their community connection showcases.

Los Angeles County was one of the fund’s primary targets.

“It was really our test pilot program,” Arteaga said. “It’s the largest county but at the bottom of the state in broadband connectivity with only 48 percent.”

Arteaga said CETF attacked Los Angeles County’s issues on several fronts. They used public service announcements on television and radio, created the very basic and easy to use GetConnected! website and informed people to call 2-1-1, a help line for technological questions.

The result? Los Angeles County is now at 67 percent broadband connectivity.

A number of California Congress members, including South Los Angeles’ Linda Sanchez, have spoken independently about the important work being done by CETF.

“One of the hurdles people must clear is learning how to use computers and other communication technologies,” Sanchez, the daughter of immigrants, said. “Too many working families find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide.”

But CETF “focuses on millions of Californians that need a boost getting into the electronic age.” They are “getting disconnected families connected,” Sanchez said.

While the numbers have improved remarkably in the last two years, there are still areas of concern. The percentage of Latinos using the Internet (65 percent) and the percentage with broadband access (50 percent) are much lower than other ethnic groups.

The August PPIC survey also shows that United States natives are “far more likely than noncitizens to use the Internet (89 percent versus 51percent) and to have access to broadband (79 percent versus 36 percent).“

Arteaga said there is still growth potential to attract and educate more residents. CETF is working on providing a bilingual guide with La Opinion that will be distributed in various newspapers in November.

“There are people that are extremely low-income, where broadband is the last of their thoughts, and there are groups that are hesitant to embrace technology. But we’re trying to offer something for everybody.”

That includes all the current and future Laura Arguellos.

Photos courtesy of Creative Commons and CDTech. To view multimedia slide shows produced by residents of the Vernon/Central neighborhood during a CDTech/Intersections workshop, visit: The Stories of Vernon/Central.

Students and volunteers reflect on trip to Washington

image“Students will actually benefit from this program, people start to look up to these students,” Daniel Reyes said, an alum of Crenshaw High School who works with the program Mother of Many and was one of the 18 students that went to the White House this past September.

The group, who is made up of students both from Crenshaw’s Digital Media Team and Cooking Live with Dorsey High raised all the money themselves through fundraisers and drives.

“We got to meet with President Barack Obama’s Digital Web team, we met with the First Lady’s nutrition campaign, the ‘Let’s Move’ campaign and we got to see her garden, which was very cool,” said Mother of Many board member Lauri Burrier.

The students were so inspired that they want to start their own First Lady Garden on a already existing 2.5 acre plot at Crenshaw. Mother of Many served healthy popcorn at the Taste of Soul Festival on Crenshaw Boulevard October 16.

“Our big dream is to start a farmers market that would work with the community, so we really want to get out into the community to give the kids more incentive to feel an involvement and feel leadership in their community and stay in school and go to college,” Burrier said.

Crenshaw student recites Pledge of Allegiance at Obama USC visit

imageEsaul Parra (standing behind President Obama) watches the President as he walks onstage at a rally on the USC campus.

Esaul Parra, a 14-year-old student at Crenshaw High School, was chosen to recite the Pledge of Allegiance on stage before the thousands of people gathered to hear the president’s speech in Alumni Park at USC.

Daphne Bradford, an Apple-distinguished educator who heads the Digital Media Team at Crenshaw High School, snapped a picture of Parra onstage. Parra is a member of the Digital Media Team and one of 18 students from Crenshaw and Dorsey High Schools to have visited the White House in September.

The visit marked months of campaigning by students and the “Mother of Many” organization to bring the Crenshaw Digital Media Team and Cooking Live with Dorsey High to the White House. Students met with Obama’s personal aide, Reggie Love, and Obama’s personal chef, Sam Kass. Photos from the visit can be viewed here.

More on Esaul Parra and his Pledge of Allegiance: Crenshaw Student to Share Spotlight With President (NBC)

PHOTOS: Crenshaw and Dorsey students visit the White House

For more on the White House visit and the Crenshaw/Dorsey team, visit the Destination: Change Facebook page.

Students from Crenshaw and Dorsey High Schools spoke with Obama’s personal aide, Reggie Love.





Daphne Bradford of the non-profit organization Mother of Many with Reggie Love.

Students took a tour of the White House garden with President Obama’s personal Chef, Sam Kass.



More on the Destination: Change trip to the White House can be found here.

Photos courtesy of Mother of Many.

Crenshaw High School sends off students to White House

Students from Crenshaw’s Digital Media Team and the Cooking Live with Dorsey High members said goodbye to their parents, schools, and California on Wednesday for a few days.

On Friday, the 18 students will meet with President Obama’s Web Team and Mrs. Obama’s Nutrition Team to discuss how they can create a partnership. Crenshaw has a 2.5-acre garden on campus that they propose to name “Let’s Move Garden” in order to promote the cause of fighting childhood obesity.

Crenshaw Principal Carrie H. Allen congratulated the students and expressed her pride in seeing off the two classes to “one of the best cities in the world.”

“I’m so proud of you; more than you could ever imagine,” Allen told the students.

Parents were also present at Wednesday’s send-off celebration to support their children.

Rodney H. Fairweather, parent of a Crenshaw student, said the opportunity for the group to visit the White House is “phenomenal,” and “should be life changing.”

“You go to school, read about the Constitution, and they actually now get to see how it takes place. This is where the commander in chief…orchestrates world events,” said Fairweather.

Many students said they were most excited to get on a plane for the first time, to visit the White House, and to possibly catch a glimpse of the president himself.

Laurie Bailey, mother of a Crenshaw student, said she was really excited for the students to take the trip to Washington, D.C. because they did a lot of fundraising.

“It’s a really exciting time. This is something these kids will remember for a lifetime,” said Bailey.

Crenshaw High School Principal Carrie H. Allen congratulates students as they head to the airport.

More Intersections coverage of the Journey to the White House:

South Los Angeles students to visit White House

Crenshaw digital team goes straight to the top

Dorsey High School’s culinary program