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Eighth grader Ailyn Moreno wants to save the planet, but she wasn't sure how she'd go about it until recently.

As a student at the Dallas Environmental Academy in Texas, Moreno knew she was interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), specifically science and engineering, but there are so many career choices that exist within these broad categories. She knew she wanted to hone in on her passion, but wasn't exactly sure how to apply her academic learning to the real world.

Then one of her teachers told her about Girls Inc., a nonprofit that empowers girls ages six to 18 to value themselves, take risks, and discover and develop their inherent strengths. Through long-lasting mentoring relationships, a pro-girl environment, and research-based programming, girls become equipped to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers, and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

Moreno was connected to the Eureka! STEM program at Girls Inc. of Dallas, which offers an intensive, five-year program to build a girls' confidence and skills through hands-on opportunities in STEM. She thought it "would open so many doors," so she decided to join.

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Capital One
Courtesy of Capital One

It was around Christmas 2018 and Jean Simpkins, 79, was looking out the window of her new three-bedroom apartment. Eleven floors above Washington, D.C., the grandmother of two gazed out at the lights of the city and became overwhelmed with gratitude. "The only thing I could say," Simpkins remembers, "was 'Thank you, Father.'"

Almost a year later, Simpkins still can't help but look at the apartment as a miracle — one she desperately needed. Fifteen years ago, when her grandson was born, she became his primary caregiver. Six years later, when her granddaughter was four, Simpkins was awarded full custody of her, too. She's spent the time since trying to give her grandchildren the life she knows they deserve, which has been difficult on a fixed income. On top of that, Simpkins worried that the neighborhood the family resided in wasn't the best influence on her kids. Something had to change.

Then she learned about Plaza West, a new development created by Mission First housing that would reserve 50 of its apartments specifically for families in which a grandparent or other older adult was raising children who were related to them. The waiting list, Simpkins says, was daunting. There are a great deal of grandfamilies in the D.C. area and she was sure it might be years before she got the call. But soon after applying, she was offered a choice between a two-bedroom and a three-bedroom apartment. She accepted the latter, sight unseen. She knew that each of her grandchildren needed space of their own.

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via CancerLINC

Darnell and Leslie Henson

Darnell Henson doesn't keep track of the date — it's just something he's never been good at — but he'll never forget February 23rd, 2018. It was nearly three o'clock in the morning when he awoke with a horrible pain in his stomach. His first thought: food poisoning. Darnell's wife, Leslie, had brought him a sandwich from work and he was certain it didn't agree with him. So he downed some Pepto-Bismol and hoped for the best. But an hour later, the pain had engulfed him. "This is not food poisoning," Darnell remembers thinking. "It's got to be more."

The pain grew every second. Soon, Darnell couldn't get up off the floor. He'd suffered a broken leg when he was younger and that pain was torture, but the pain he was feeling now was like nothing he'd ever experienced. He woke his wife and she rushed him to the emergency room where doctors ran tests all through the night. Darnell and Leslie were terrified.

Darnell remembers a doctor coming in to speak with them. She delivered news that would turn the Hensons' life upside down: Darnell had kidney cancer that had spread to his lungs. Soon after, doctors found six tumors on his brain, and then a mass on his hip. His cancer, he was told, had progressed to stage four.

"How much time do I have?" Darnell asked his doctor. He was told in March 2018 that he might have two, maybe three years left. Later that year, in August, the doctor told him he thought he was only going to live for four more months. These were some of the darkest days of his life, Darnell recalls. Then he lost his insurance and he and Leslie began to get really scared. They were being asked about wills, trusts, and advanced health directives. But the truth was, they had none of these things in place and hiring a lawyer was out of the question. The couple simply didn't have the funds.

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Capital One

When Jelani Anglin was a teenager, he was arrested for a minor infraction.

Photo courtesy of Robin Hood.

When he was taken to central booking, Anglin recalls how terrifying it was and how helpless he felt. He realized the experience was something that thousands of other people go through on an annual basis.

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