He wanted a career in tech. This foundation shaped his future and changed his life.
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In eighth grade, Steven Kwan didn't know if he wanted a career in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM), but he knew that he wanted a $1,000 scholarship for college.

Steven Kwan in eighth grade, when he started with TAF. Photo courtesy of Steven Kwan.

Kwan's parents, first-generation immigrants from China, had always stressed the importance of education, so when the Seattleite reached the eighth grade he understood that he'd have to start saving for college.


When Kwan learned that Seattle's Technology Access Foundation (TAF) was offering $1,000 scholarships for successful completion of each year of its Technical Teens Internship Program (TTIP), a high school STEM program, he applied — even though he didn't know much about TAF.

The scholarship and organization would go on to shape his entire career.

Photo courtesy of TAF.

TAF is dedicated to making futures in STEM possible for people of color and other underrepresented students in Washington State. Through education and building connections, TAF is helping to create the tech leaders of tomorrow and bridge the gap in representation in the technology sector.

Kwan was part of TAF's original venture into education as a member of TTIP, an after-school program. While most kids were using computers to play around with instant messaging, Kwan was spending six hours a week learning about programming, software engineering and professional development skills like interviewing and collaborating with others on the job.

“The goal of that was to help us develop these technical skills so that, come summertime, they would help us find internships within the Seattle area to make use of those skills," says Kwan.

Two things happened later that year: Kwan learned that $1,000 wasn't enough money to go to college, and he decided he wanted to pursue a career in tech.

So he spent the next four summers interning in the tech field, even working two summers with Microsoft, where he got hands-on experience in software development and engineering using the skills he gained from TTIP.

“[TAF] really helped me understand what it was I really wanted to do when I got older," he says. “It helped me explore software engineering more than just sitting in front of a computer and tapping away code. It was an opportunity to be very creative and to build things that could help people."

TAF made Kwan confident about what he wanted to do next. It also gave him the skills he needed to thrive in a field where people like him are underrepresented.

Kwan today. Photo courtesy of Steven Kwan.

Even now that he's 29, Kwan says his mentors at TAF are like family. They pushed him to be successful by providing the tools necessary for him to stand on his own. They helped him find and apply for scholarships, wrote him letters of recommendation and helped him craft his personal statements — which, as anyone knows, is one of the hardest parts of applying to college.

“What that really translated to was I got into three schools," Kwan says. “I got a direct admission into the computer science department at the University of Washington."

He was also the recipient of the prestigious Gates Millennium scholarship.

Once at the University of Washington, Kwan worked hard academically and made a conscious effort to help the community. He worked with social justice groups, mentored high school students applying for institutions of higher education and took on a leadership position coordinating other mentors at a local high school.

Today, thanks to all he learned at TAF and in college, he's a senior software engineer at a major tech company where he's worked for more than seven years. But one of the most important things that TAF taught Kwan is how much representation matters. It helped him recognize that he has a voice that deserves to be heard.

“I recognize that because of [how long I've been at my job], I also now have the power to be an advocate for other people. TAF really helped to shape my lens on what diversity and inclusion looked like in tech and what equality and belonging look like."

According to a 2018 PEW research report, the vast majority of people with careers in STEM are white and male. Kwan and TAF are working to change those numbers.

Photo courtesy of TAF.

At his job, Kwan has made promoting diversity a major part of his career. For example, he's been an instrumental part of setting up his company's pride network — a place of inclusion for LGBT+ employees.

“TAF has given me skills to be a very good advocate for myself," says Kwan. “I've realized that as a part of that it means I also have to advocate for other people as well if I want to see changes happen."

Kwan recently became a member of TAF's Board of Directors. And the organization, which he joined when it was in its early stages, has grown right along with him.

While TAF has transitioned out of after-school programming, the organization has brought all of the most important components of its previous program — including hands-on experience, job shadowing and resume building — to a school, TAF@Saghalie, that the nonprofit co-manages in partnership through the Federal Way School district. TAF's program still caters to underrepresented kids and has been so popular, it's grown from 300 students to over 700 in two years.

Because of TAF's hands-on approach, the kids who attend the school are becoming more knowledgeable and confident than even their biggest supporters might have expected.

“The way we have the students collaborate in a project-based learning environment, they start being accountable, responsible for each other's success," says Tyrone Cunningham, a Development Officer for Corporqate Relations with TAF.

TAF also gives its students a chance to volunteer and use their skills to work on solving real-life problems — such as homelessness — in order to stoke their passion for working within the community. This leads to more and more kids giving back as adults, just like Steven Kwan.

And one of the main reasons that TAF has been able to help so many kids succeed is thanks to partnerships with and investments from companies like Capital One.

Photo courtesy of TAF.

“Capital One has been so amazing to our kids in a variety of ways, from getting their employees to volunteer with [the students] to hosting job shadowing and internships," says Sherry Williams, TAF's Executive Director of Development. Capital One has also invested significantly in TAF, even helping the organization build out a robotics and engineering lab for the school.

But Capital One's contributions go way past the monetary:

“They have given an endless amount of time," Williams goes on. “What makes Capital One different from other corporate partners is the investment. Corporations can write a check [and] walk away. [Capital One] can direct that money towards a certain program and feel great about it. And it is great."

“The difference with Capital One [and its local employees] is they have really taken a holistic approach with TAF and really wrapped their arms around our organization and our students. If we send out something and say, 'Hey we need volunteers for our STEM expo' [or] 'come judge our kids' projects in March,' they're gonna show up."

This kind of support means more kids and educators will become part of a strong community that's expanding STEM's reach.

Photo courtesy of TAF.

“We alums understand what it means to be a part of a collective whole," says Kwan. "I think one of the greatest things is that we recognize that we're all still needed to continue the work so the people coming up behind us don't have to face some of those struggles that some of us had to face with being the only person of color [at work]."

As the organization grows, Kwan hopes that the conversation evolves beyond just creating space for minority groups in STEM fields to what changes must be made to retain those same groups in this industry. And, while he's on the board, he hopes he can help shift the narrative of what it means to be a professional and give people like him even more access to STEM than when he was a kid.

One thing's for certain — with TAF getting bigger and people like Kwan at its helm, the future of STEM is only getting brighter.

Courtesy of Creative Commons
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After years of service as a military nurse in the naval Marine Corps, Los Angeles, California-resident Rhonda Jackson became one of the 37,000 retired veterans in the U.S. who are currently experiencing homelessness — roughly eight percent of the entire homeless population.

"I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat for two years," Jackson said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs was doing everything they could to help but I was not in a good situation."

One day in 2019, Jackson felt a sudden sense of hope for a better living arrangement when she caught wind of the ongoing construction of Veteran's Village in Carson, California — a 51-unit affordable housing development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments and supportive services to residents through a partnership with U.S.VETS.

Her feelings of hope quickly blossomed into a vision for her future when she learned that Veteran's Village was taking applications for residents to move in later that year after construction was complete.

"I was entered into a lottery and I just said to myself, 'Okay, this is going to work out,'" Jackson said. "The next thing I knew, I had won the lottery — in more ways than one."

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But even those of us who have experience with bizarre cat behavior are blown away by the antics this "cat dad" is able to get away with.

Kareem and Fifi are the cat parents of Chase, Skye, and Millie—literally the most chill kitties ever. They share their family life on TikTok as @dontstopmeowing, and their videos have been viewed millions of times. When you see them, you'll understand why.

Take Chase's spa days, for example. It may seem unreal at first, but watch what happens when Fifi tries to take away his cucumber slices.

When she puts them back on his eyes? WHAT?! What cat would let you put them on once, much less get mad when you take them off?

This cat. Chase is living his best life.

But apparently, it's not just Chase. Skye and Millie have also joined in "spaw day." How on earth does one couple end up with three hilariously malleable cats?

Oh, and if you think they must have been sedated or something, look at how wide awake they are during bath time. That's right, bath time. Most cats hate water, but apparently, these three couldn't care less. How?

They'll literally do anything. The Don't Stop Meowing channel is filled with videos like this. Cats wearing glasses. Cats wearing hats. Cats driving cars. It's unbelievable yet highly watchable entertainment.

If you're worried that Kareem gets all the love and Fifi constantly gets the shaft, that seems to be a bit for show. Look at Chase and Fifi's conversation about her leaving town for a business trip:

The whole channel is worth checking out. Ever seen a cat being carried in a baby carrier at the grocery store? A cat buckled into a car seat? Three cats sitting through storytime? It's all there. (Just a heads up: A few of the videos have explicit language, so parents might want to do a preview before watching with little ones.) You can follow the couple and their cats on all their social media channels, including Instagram and YouTube if TikTok isn't your thing, here.

If you weren't a cat person before, these videos might change your mind. Fair warning, however: Getting a cat because you want them to do things like this would be a mistake. Cats do what they want to do, and no one can predict what weird traits they will have. Even if you raise them from kittenhood, they're still unpredictable and weird.

And honestly, we wouldn't have them any other way.

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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When Donato Di Camillo was a kid, his family couldn't afford film for their Polaroid camera.

So instead, he ran around the house with a film-less camera pretending to be a hotshot photographer on an African safari, mimicking the heroes behind iconic photos he saw in the discarded National Geographic magazines his dad grabbed for him out of the garbage.

Years later, when Di Camillo found himself in prison after collecting a lengthy rap sheet of thefts, he discovered a library full of those same magazines.

While other inmates were working out or getting into trouble, he pored over old issues of National Geographic, Life, and Time.

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There have been many iconic dance routines throughout film history, but how many have the honor being called "the greatest" by Fred Astaire himself?

Fayard and Harold Nicholas, known collectively as the Nicholas Brothers, were arguably the best at what they did during their heyday. Their coordinated tap routines are legendary, not only because they were great dancers, but because of their incredible ability to jump into the air and land in the splits. Repeatedly. From impressive heights.

Their most famous routine comes from the movie "Stormy Weather." As Cab Calloway sings "Jumpin' Jive," the Nicholas Brothers make the entire set their dance floor, hopping and tapping from podium to podium amongst the musicians, dancing up and down stairs and across the top of a piano.

But what makes this scene extra impressive is that they performed it without rehearsing it first and it was filmed in one take—no fancy editing room tricks to bring it all together. This fact was confirmed in a conversation with the brothers in a Chicago Tribune article in 1997, when they were both in their 70s:

"Would you believe that was one of the easiest things we ever did?" Harold told the paper.

"Did you know that we never even rehearsed that number?" added Fayard.

"When it came time to do that part, (choreographer) Nick Castle said: 'Just do it. Don`t rehearse it, just do it.' And so we did it—in one little take. And then he said: 'That's it—we can't do it any better than that.'"

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