Genesia Ting - @genesiatingphoto

.Paak with a young fan.


Between getting nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B Album, playing on Jimmy Kimmel with Smokey Robinson, and raising two sons with his wife Jae Lin, he has a lot on his plate.

But despite all his success, he never forgets his hometown of Oxnard, California, just north of Los Angeles. And he's giving back to the larger community that fostered his growth.

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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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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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When Stamy Paul started traveling for work over a decade ago, she fell in love with urban art in all its forms — including graffiti.

"It was really fascinating to me because it was evident in every culture and country I visited," Paul says.

That's why she was determined to figure out how to bring it into her own home. Unfortunately that was easier said than done.

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