Maria Cervantes, Math Fair — Telemundo 52

July 31st, 2014

MIND Research Institute’s Maria Cervantes discusses the Aug. 2 Math Fair on Telemundo 52′s Acceso Total. The MIND Research Institute will be hosting The Math Fair on August 2, 2014 at the UCI Bren Events Center at UC Irvine from 10 am – 4pm. Admission to the event is FREE and the first 500 will receive FREE parking. Registering in advance on the website will enter you into a drawing for a FREE iPad.


For more information:



Maria Cervantes, Math Fair — Telemundo 52 on YouTube


Agustin Villega’s Funeral Fund

July 16th, 2014

agustin_villegasAgustin Villegas was shot and killed in front of 2 of his 4 kids and died on July 15, 2014. He leaves behind a wife and 4 kids. The family has turned to the crowdsourcing website “Give Forward” and is asking for help with funeral costs.


The fatal shooting took place on Orange County’s stretch of 91 Freeway in Anaheim. The reason for the shooting on the evening of Monday July 14, 2014 is under investigation. There was no evidence that this incident was the result of a road rage confrontation and Villegas has been cleared of criminal ties. The incident closed the westbound lanes for several hours as the California Highway Patrol began their investigation. The lanes were reopened in the early morning hours on Tuesday.


It has been reported that a dark or black Honda Accord could have been connected to the shooting. Due to the heavy traffic at the time no further details have been provided.


If anyone was on the freeway and saw any suspicious activity they are urged to call Orange County Crime Stoppers at (855) TIP-OCCS.


Here is the link to the family Give Forward campaign: 

MIND Research Institute Math Fair

July 15th, 2014

mathfairThe MIND Research Institute will be hosting The Math Fair on August 2, 2014 at the UCI Bren Events Center at UC Irvine. Admission to the event is FREE and the first 500 will receive FREE parking. Registering in advance on the website will enter you into a drawing for a FREE iPad.


The MIND Research Institute’s is revolutionizing math education through visual learning to ensure that all students are mathematically equipped to solve the world’s most challenging problems.


The Math Fair, a brainchild of the nonprofit, is about making math fun. Families may have been to a science museum, perhaps a robotics fair, maybe even a technology competition. But have they ever experienced a Math Fair? The MIND Research Institute believes that math is inherently exciting as it helps make sense of the world around us. Their mission is to share the beauty of math and make it accessible to children and families.


In the early 1990s, three University of California researchers united in a simple yet innovative idea: let’s teach math the way children learn — visually and experientially. In 1998, they branched off to create an independent non-profit, now known as MIND Research Institute, where they could apply this idea to the development of innovative, visually-based software games. Today, this initial idea continues to drive our work in creating unique and effective learning environments for students and teachers. It also guides our ongoing research investigating key questions about learning, mathematics and how the brain works.


Schedule of Events


10:00 a.m. – Math Fair Opens


10:15 a.m. – Math Fair Opening Ceremony featuring Irvine Mayor Stephen Choi and Presenting Sponsor Microsemi • Mathland Railway Opens *train rides will run every 15 minutes • Math Mystery Theater Opens *performances every 45 minutes


10:30 a.m. – Family Math Workshops Begin *workshops every 45 minutes

Meet JiJi *the penguin will make scheduled appearances until 4:00 p.m.


11:00 a.m. – Food Trucks Open • Game Design Workshop


1:00 p.m. – Game Design Workshop


3:45 p.m. – JiJi Band Performance


4:00 p.m. – Math Fair Closing Ceremony



For more information:

Malala Day on July 14th

July 14th, 2014

malala2014Malala Yousafzai turns seventeen on July 14. Since the age of eleven, Malala has been advocating for women and girls’ right to education. In October 2012, after gaining worldwide recognition, she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman while on a school bus in Pakistan.



Malala recovered and has continued advocating on behalf of women and girls, fighting against violence, poverty, fear, and hatred. In honor of Malala’s birthday, Malala is asking everyone to raise their voice and speak out for girls’ rights on July 14. Malala was stronger than fear and she wants you to share what you are #StrongerThan.



The national organization of Girls Inc. believes that all girls have the right to feel safe in the world, to receive an education, to resist violence and stereotypes, and to overcome obstacles that get in the way of their success. Their focus on access to opportunities, achieving academic success, and overcoming obstacles is reflected in Malala’s message and they support her as she exemplifies what it means to be a strong, smart, and bold.



Girls Inc. will be part of the organizations tweeting on behalf of Malala with the hashtag #StrongerThan in honor of this inspiring teenager and her mission to educate women and girls.
VIDEO: Malala Day – July 14, 2014 – #StrongerThan



MACSD Scholarship Fundraiser 2014

July 2nd, 2014

MACSD_2014The Media Arts Center in San Diego (MACSD) is seeking $7,000 to help young people to attend their annual summer Youth Media & Tech Camp programs for free.


The producer of the annual San Diego Latino Film Festival, offers youth programs to students in 1st-12th grade all over San Diego County. Through programs like the Teen Producers Project, Youth Media & Tech Camp, and Speak City Heights News Crew, youth learn about media literacy and digital technology, while also building skills to become future leaders and innovators. For many youth in San Diego, these types of tools and much-needed technology training is no longer offered in their schools due to on-going school budget cuts.


They don’t need much to help these participants out and every donation amount is greatly appreciated. A donation of $245 will cover one student’s tuition to any of these programs.


Their goal is to reach $7,000 to offer 30 scholarships for this summer! If you cannot donate they ask if you could please consider spreading the word to families, friends, and co-workers. Each donation is tax deductible.


The Media Arts Center in San Diego promotes access to film and video as tools for community self-expression and social change and supports the professional development of media artists.


Fundraiser Page


Official Website:


VIDEO Summer Scholarship Fundraiser 2014


PCAA celebrates with “Hope”

July 1st, 2014

pcaa_oc_2014The annual PCAA fundraiser “Hope on the Range” will be held on Saturday, July 26, 2014 from 6-9 p.m. at the Artimis Defense Institute in Lake Forest. Funds raised will enabled ProvidingHope Action Association dba the Probation Community Action Association to fill requests for the “Thinking for a Change” program at two probation youth reporting centers in Orange County.


The centers provide a positive alternative to incarceration at Juvenile Hall and allows a teen to receive their education. The “Thinking for a Change”  Program helps each youth with their school needs and teaches them skills for a better life.


People from all walks of life attend the annual event. Some participants from Los Amigos de Orange County called the event life changing and inspiring. Getting a rare chance to see how the program transforms the life of an at-risk youth left many teary-eyed.


Tickets are $75.00 and includes dinner from Texas BBQ Pit, Door Prizes, Opportunity Drawing and Testimonies from the Program Participants.



In September 1993 the Probation Community Action Association was formed to address the fact that there was no funding to help probation teens with basic needs. Needs like education, clothing, eyeglasses, school costs, food, and etc. Probation Chief Officer Michael Schumacher formed a board of local leaders and assisted in raising funds to begin this nonprofit. PCAA stood alone in the county and possibly the nation to be the only nonprofit to exclusively assist teens on probation.


PCAA gives young adults hope and a chance for a better future by filling basic, yet life changing needs.


For more information:

A Letter to OC’s Sheriff Hutchens

June 27th, 2014

oc_ice_endsGrassroots immigrant rights groups in Orange County request total end to ICE Collaboration!


The organizations CoMMUn, DeColores Queer Orange County, Dreams at UC Irvine, Orange County Dream Team, RAIZ, and We are San Juan submitted a letter to Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens requesting that she completely end her department’s collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This includes, but not limited to, immediately ending the following collaborations within all facilities: the 287(g) agreements with ICE, the Criminal Alien Program, and all Inter-Governmental Service Agreements (IGSA) also known as “ICE contracts”. In addition, this demand includes the ceasing of all contact with ICE when releasing detainees from jail.


The coalition has worked with community members that face this daily trauma of family separation. The organizations listed have long maintained that the immigration detainers, and all other forms of local law enforcement collaboration with ICE undermine public trust and public safety. They have long maintained that these forms of immigration enforcement are inhumane, and have exacerbated the current mass deportation-centered human rights crisis in the United States.


The letter was submitted to Sheriff Hutchens on the morning of June 25th. The organizations expect a response by Wednesday, July 2, 2014.



The coalition websites:

Heavenly Horses at Bowers Museum

June 26th, 2014

bowers_museumThe Bowers Museum, located in the heart of Orange County, is pleased to present its latest exhibition of “Heavenly Horses: Two Thousand Years of Chinese and Japanese Equine Art.” During this Year of the Horse, Bowers celebrates these animals that continue to fascinate and inspire people around the world.


The horse’s impact on both Chinese and Japanese culture cannot be overstated. They shepherded goods, people and ideas across the expansive and varied climates of a continent during the height of the Silk Roads. They were indispensable as military chargers and aided in the expansion and control of empires.


The horse was embraced as companion and participant in leisure and recreational activities including polo, horse “dancing,” and hunting. Horses also figure prominently in the mythology, philosophy, religion, and folklore of both China and Japan.


“Heavenly Horses: Two Thousand Years of Chinese and Japanese Equine Art” will be on display at the Bowers Museum through November 16, 2014.


Founded in 1936 by the City of Santa Ana through a bequest from Charles and Ada Bowers, the Bowers Museum is one of California’s largest museums. In 1986, the museum closed its doors for a period of self-study. In response to community needs and input, it reopened in 1992 as a new cultural center, and expanded children’s programming in 1994 with the opening of the Kidseum.


The museum also recently celebrated the grand opening of the 30,000+ square-foot Dorothy and Donald Kennedy Wing in February 2007. To achieve its mission, the Bowers offers exhibitions, lectures, art classes, travel programs, children’s art education programs, and other special community programs.


For more information:

LA’s Sir Sultry Quintet due July 15

June 25th, 2014

14605-ETHANALTA_17Ethan Margolis the guitarist and vocalist of the Los Angeles-based Sir Sultry Quintet have fused elements of flamenco and jazz into their first full length album entitled “Soleángeles.” The album was recorded in both Los Angeles and Seville, Spain and will be released on July 15, 2014. Sir Sultry was a featured music pick in the LA Weekly which also raved about their live shows. Margolis takes his role as bandleader and composer, as a responsibility to work towards bridging the two musical cultures in a modern, cohesive fashion that never ceases to excite listeners.


After having lived 11 years in southern Spain performing with Gypsy artists and having lead sold-out international tours, the 36 year-old Margolis arrived in Los Angeles with a mission to further bridge the musical cultures of Spain and American Jazz and Blues.


“Soleángeles” is Margolis’s first album to be officially released with this purpose and is truly a remarkable work where he features some of the USA’s top jazz musicians as well as the collaborations of his Gypsy Flamenco artist friends from Spain. The name, “Soleángeles” is derived from the combination of two words: Soleá (Flamenco’s mother song) and Angeles (Los Angeles).


The album blends deep Flamenco rhythms and harmony with the improvised and “open” instrumental solos typical of jazz. In the compositions, Margolis allowed for each instrument to take on personalities both within world music and American jazz and blues. He composed and arranged the music to find common ground between Spain and the USA, creating a sort of “stepping stone across the Atlantic,” as he calls it.



Some of the featured artists of “Soleángeles” include Judith Hill (The Film “20 Feet From Stardom, Michael Jackson, TV’s The Voice), Mitchel Forman (Mahavishnu Orchestra, Wayne Shorter) Hussain Jiffry (Herb Alpert, Sergio Mendes), Jimmy Branly (Pancho Sanchez, Chucho Valdez), Katisse Buckingham (Herbie Hancock, Pancho Sanchez, Dr. Dre), Juan Bacán (Flamenco’s Pinini singing dynasty) and Ramón Porrina (Buika, Tomatito)


“Soleángeles” will be released digitally by BFM distribution based out of Los Angeles, California. The Sir Sultry Quintet will perform at the Baked Potato Jazz Club in Studio City as well as Alva’s Showroom on July 26, 2014 in San Pedro to support the release of the album.


Tour Dates Include:

07/26 – Alvas Showroom, Los Angeles, CA (Sir Sultry)

08/01 – The Hotel Cafe, Los Angeles, CA. (Ethan Margolis’s World Blues)


Official Website:


Phonar Nation class, Orange County

June 24th, 2014
From left: Christopher Gomez, Derek Vong, Hugo Rodriguez, Jonathan Worth, Viridiana Badillo, Jennifer Fregoso, Larissa Fregoso and Jessica Jimenez. Photo by Mimi Ko Cruz

From left: Christopher Gomez, Derek Vong, Hugo Rodriguez, Jonathan Worth, Viridiana Badillo, Jennifer Fregoso, Larissa Fregoso and Jessica Jimenez. Photo by Mimi Ko Cruz

Learning Storytelling Through Picture-Taking

Free Online Photography Class Commencing This Summer

Jessica Jimenez always liked taking pictures of things just for fun, but after recently completing a five-week photography class, the 15-year-old now shoots photos that pack meaning.


“Photos can tell really important stories about life, historical moments and experiences,” said Jimenez, one of a dozen Santa Ana teenagers who took part in the class, a pilot for “Phonar Nation,” that will open to the world for free online this summer as part of the Cities of Learning initiative. A number of cities — including Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Pittsburgh — are taking part in the project, which is supported by the MacArthur Foundation and powered by the Digital Youth Network and Badge Alliance.


The Phonar Nation class, designed by award-winning British photographer Jonathan Worth, builds on his #Phonar (Photography and Narrative) course that he’s taught at Coventry University and online to more than 35,000 students since 2009. The class is ranked No. 1 by The Guardian.


Phonar Nation caters to teens and younger students, but anyone can take the class, Worth said, using any mobile device, equipped with a camera and Internet connection. It will kick off with two five-week sessions this summer — beginning June 23 and July 28 through, a youth-focused project of the Connected Learning Alliance. The CLA is a network that brings together organizations, projects, initiatives and individuals working to leverage today’s technology for more equitable access to learning and opportunity for all young people.


“Anyone can drop in, mix stuff up, step out, come back again — whatever works,” Worth said, “and, together, we’re going to build the biggest and best photography class in history.”


But, it’s not just about taking photos that tell stories, he said. “Photography is going through a second paradigm shift. The first was when photography broke away from painting. The second is the image breaking away from the photograph. It’s about everybody having the capability to make an image and publish it. That’s a profound moment and, suddenly, it’s not just about photography. With an Internet so visually led, this becomes about visual literacy and digital fluency. It’s about being able to read and write with images, being able to speak clearly with images and being heard through all the visual noise.”



Jonathan Worth gives his Santa Ana students pointers on taking selfies. Photo by Mimi Ko Cruz

Today’s youth are growing up with technology, Worth added, “so, the noise is normal. This generation’s kids can make images and share them, but they don’t automatically understand the value of being credible and trusted to get a signal through all that noise.  Look at the staggering stats: hundreds of millions of photos are being uploaded on social media daily. In other words, everybody’s talking at once.”


So, how do you get heard?


“If you don’t feel as though your voice is being heard, then how do you engage? How do you get civic engagement? How do you encourage it? What you end up with is people feeling as though they are anonymized by the network,” Worth said. “What Phonar Nation seeks to do is to start them on a path to feeling empowered by the network.”


That’s what the students said they learned from the pilot class.


“Jonathan taught us how to seek and find meaning behind all images,” 17-year-old Dean Padilla said. “He has an interesting perspective on photography. Now, when I see a photo, I question who took it and why and I try to take pictures that have some meaning to me, some depth.”


Padilla and the other students met on Friday afternoons at The Cambodian Family, a community center in Santa Ana where they were provided iPod Touches to take the course, which was tweaked and improved with their input along the way. They chatted with Worth face-to-face a couple times but mostly online as he taught the course from his home in England.


Christopher Gomez uses his iPod Touch to photograph an outdoor scene. Photo by Jonathan Worth

Christopher Gomez uses his iPod Touch to photograph an outdoor scene. Photo by Jonathan Worth

Supporting them locally at the center was Claudia Caro Sullivan, assistant director of the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub, who helped revise the university-level course for younger learners and led discussions about the weekly lessons; and James McMillan, DML Hub’s systems administrator who provided technical assistance.


The DML Hub, an initiative of the University of California Humanities Research Institute, has been supporting Phonar Nation as part of its research on how to connect youth to high-quality educational offerings in the digital arts.


“Offering quality enrichment opportunities fills a big need in this country,” Caro Sullivan said.


For Jimenez, it’s even proven lucrative. She recently was hired by family members to photograph a wedding and a birthday party.


“I’m actually earning money doing what I love,” she said. “At the wedding, the couple was so in love, you could see it in the way they looked at each other and that emotion showed in my photos. My family really liked the pictures because of the story they told.”


Phalen Lim, The Cambodian Family’s youth director, said the experience was something none of the students could have participated in were it not for Phonar Nation.


“A lot of our youth here in Santa Ana are interested in technology and photography, but many don’t have access to these kinds of learning opportunities,” Lim said. “This really enriches their lives, opens up doors to new skills and possibilities.”




Summer Plunge: Dive Into Coding and Photography