+
A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
We are a small, independent media company on a mission to share the best of humanity with the world.
If you think the work we do matters, pre-ordering a copy of our first book would make a huge difference in helping us succeed.
GOOD PEOPLE Book
upworthy
More

The 9 teachers who just received awards from the White House were all in the U.S. illegally.

A work permit can change your life.

Jaime Ballesteros first realized just how much his immigration status mattered when he started looking at colleges.

He didn't have a Social Security number — and without that, he wouldn't be able to apply for schools alongside his peers, who were considering colleges like Harvard and Yale.

He knew what was wrong. Born in the Philippines, Jaime came to the U.S. with his parents and older brother when he was 11 years old. His father had a temporary work visa tied to his job as an accountant, which allowed him to bring his wife and children with him.



Jaime at roughly age 6 in Bacolod City, where his family lived in the Philippines. Photo courtesy of Jaime Ballesteros.

Then the recession hit. Jaime's father lost his job in 2007, which meant their visas would expire.

His family went from living the American Dream to immigration fugitives in the course of a year.

The timing couldn't have been worse, either. Jaime was looking at colleges and didn't know how to handle questions about citizenship and legal residency. He turned to one of the few people he thought he could trust, Ms. Solberg, his English teacher.

“She was the first person I came out to as an undocumented person," he told Upworthy. “I was very afraid of putting my family in harm's way."

During his time at Drew University, in December 2011. Photo courtesy of Jaime Ballesteros.

She helped him apply to college, a decision that set him on the path for success. The biggest impediment was money — as an undocumented immigrant, he wasn't eligible for federal financial aid and loans. But after struggling through several applications, he connected with an admissions counselor at Drew University, a liberal arts college in New Jersey. The school was able to offer enough in scholarships to cover his tuition.

He also got a boost from a new immigration policy rolled out in 2012, during his junior year at Drew. The Obama administration announced a program that would allow young undocumented immigrants like him to live and work in the U.S. legally. He applied and was approved.

But he never forgot the support he received from Ms. Solberg.

When Jaime graduated college, he joined Teach for America. Now he's a high school chemistry teacher in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles.

At the Ánimo College Preparatory Academy, where he teaches chemistry. Photo courtesy of Jaime Ballesteros.

On the first day of class, he told his students — many of them immigrants, as well — that he was undocumented. “I want them to be comfortable approaching me," he said.

Stories like Jaime's are becoming more and more common.

The program that gave Jaime a pathway to become a teacher — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — has allowed more than 664,000 people to work legally in the U.S.

Teachers make up a portion of those newly employed young people, a fact recognized by the White House last week when it handed out Champions of Change awards to nine young teachers, all of whom have work authorization through DACA.

The nine teachers awarded Champions of Change awards by the White House. Photo courtesy of The White House.

The awards typically go to innovative American workers across the spectrum. This time around, all of the recipients were people who either overstayed a visa or entered the country illegally.

Now they're able to live in the U.S. without fear of imminent deportation.

Congrats to Jaime and the eight other educators honored by the White House this week:

1. Kasfia Islam, who moved from Bangladesh to a small town in Texas with her parents at age 6.

Photo courtesy of Kasfia Islam.

As a pre-kindergarten teacher, she said she's careful to watch for students who are learning English and might not understand.

[The students] want to communicate so badly with you, but they don't have the means to do it, so it can be frustrating for them," she said.

2. Marissa Molina, who came to the U.S. from the Mexican state of Chihuahua when she was 9 years old.

Photo courtesy of Marissa Molina.

After years of hiding her immigration status, Molina feels validated to be able to accept an award from the White House and speak publicly about her situation — for herself and others like her.

“I feel really overwhelmed with emotion," she said about the award. "For many years, I was made to believe that people like me didn't belong in these spaces."

3. Luis Juarez Trevino, whose family brought him to Texas as a child, seeking a better life.

Photo courtesy of Luis Juarez Trevino.

As an immigrant student without much money, Trevino saw college and a professional career as a long shot. “The odds were against me," he said in an email.

“Teachers truly took the time to motivate me, care for my wellbeing, and push me outside of my comfort zone."

4. David Liendo Uriona, who came to the U.S. from Bolivia for a karate tournament and never returned.

Photo courtesy of David Liendo Uriona.

Uriona didn't think college would be an option for him, since he had been living in the U.S. without legal status since he was 14.

“When I was in high school, I felt dejected as result of my lack of documentation," he said. “I know from firsthand experience that there are many students that felt like me in high school, and teaching them that their dreams can come true is one of my biggest motivations."

5. Maria Dominguez, who came to the U.S. when she was 9, after her father — who was living in Texas as a legal resident — passed away in a car accident.

Photo courtesy of Maria Dominguez.

Dominguez said her mother didn't intend to keep the family in Texas after her father's death, but that Austin soon became their home and they joined the estimated 1.5 million undocumented immigrants in the state.

“The Champions of Change Award is allowing me to represent my community, a community that has a voice and a face but that chooses to live in the shadows because they are afraid to share their stories," she told Upworthy.

6. Yara Hidalgo, whose family brought her to California as a 1-year-old from Nayarit, a state in Western Mexico.

Photo courtesy of Yara Hidalgo.

Hidalgo knew from a young age that she wanted to be a teacher, but her experience as an undocumented high schooler — fearing deportation and unsure of her future — steeled her resolve.

"I believe that through education we can promote and be catalysts of progressive change," she said. "Some of our systems are broken and we need to fix them."

7. Rosario Quiroz Villarreal, whose mother brought her from the border state of Coahuila, Mexico, to Oakland, California, at age 7 so they could reunite with her father.

Photo courtesy of Rosario Quiroz Villarreal.

Throughout her life, educators supported her following her professional dreams. She wants to pay that back by guiding others in the same way.

“Growing up undocumented was challenging, given the times I've been rejected because of the lack of a Social Security number," she said. “This validates years of efforts and tells me my work matters."

8. Dinorah Flores Perez, who was 5 years old when her parents brought her from Mexico to the U.S.

Photo courtesy of The White House.

Flores Perez said she "detested" school as a child and chose her profession to make things better for other students.

"I remember feeling invisible, afraid, and insecure in my academic abilities," she said. "I seek to be a different teacher and see my students' limitations as a catapult to change their realities."

These teachers are just a few examples of how much a work permit matters to someone who is in the country without legal status but wants to contribute to their community.

Pop Culture

Here’s a paycheck for a McDonald’s worker. And here's my jaw dropping to the floor.

So we've all heard the numbers, but what does that mean in reality? Here's one year's wages — yes, *full-time* wages. Woo.

Making a little over 10,000 for a yearly salary.


I've written tons of things about minimum wage, backed up by fact-checkers and economists and scholarly studies. All of them point to raising the minimum wage as a solution to lifting people out of poverty and getting folks off of public assistance. It's slowly happening, and there's much more to be done.

But when it comes right down to it, where the rubber meets the road is what it means for everyday workers who have to live with those wages. I honestly don't know how they do it.


Ask yourself: Could I live on this small of a full-time paycheck? I know what my answer is.

(And note that the minimum wage in many parts of the county is STILL $7.25, so it would be even less than this).

paychecks, McDonalds, corporate power, broken system

One year of work at McDonalds grossed this worker $13,811.18.

assets.rebelmouse.io

This story was written by Brandon Weber and was originally appeared on 02.26.15

Pop Culture

What is 'Generation Jones'? The unique qualities of the not-quite-Gen-X-baby-boomers.

This "microgeneration" had a different upbringing than their fellow boomers.

Generation Jones includes Michelle Obama, George Clooney, Kamala Harris, Keanu Reeves and more.

We hear a lot about the major generation categories—boomers, Gen X, millennials, Gen Z and the up-and-coming Gen Alpha. But there are folks who don't quite fit into those boxes. These in-betweeners, sometimes called "cuspers," are members of microgenerations that straddle two of the biggies.

"Xennial" is the nickname for those who fall on the cusp of Gen X and millennial, but there's also a lesser-known microgeneration that straddles Gen X and baby boomers. The folks born from 1954 to 1965 are known as Generation Jones, and they've been thrust into the spotlight as people try to figure out what generation to consider 59-year-old Vice President Kamala Harris.

Like President Obama before her, Harris is a Gen Jonesernot exactly a classic baby boomer but not quite Gen X. Born in October 1964, Harris falls just a few months shy of official Gen X territory. But what exactly differentiates Gen Jones from the boomers and Gen Xers that flank it?


"Generation Jones" was coined by writer, television producer and social commentator Jonathan Pontell to describe the decade of Americans who grew up in the '60s and '70s. As Pontell wrote of Gen Jonesers in Politico:

"We fill the space between Woodstock and Lollapalooza, between the Paris student riots and the anti-globalisation protests, and between Dylan going electric and Nirvana going unplugged. Jonesers have a unique identity separate from Boomers and GenXers. An avalanche of attitudinal and behavioural data corroborates this distinction."

Pontell describes Jonesers as "practical idealists" who were "forged in the fires of social upheaval while too young to play a part." They are the younger siblings of the boomer civil rights and anti-war activists who grew up witnessing and being moved by the passion of those movements but being met with a fatigued culture by the time they themselves came of age. Sometimes, they're described as the cool older siblings of Gen X. Unlike their older boomer counterparts, most Jonesers were not raised by WWII veteran fathers and were too young to be drafted into Vietnam, leaving them in between on military experience.

Gen Jones gets its name from the competitive "keeping up with the Joneses" spirit that spawned during their populous birth years, but also from the term "jonesin'," meaning an intense craving, that they coined—a drug reference but also a reflection of the yearning to make a difference that their "unrequited idealism" left them with. According to Pontell, their competitiveness and identity as a "generation aching to act" may make Jonesers particularly effective leaders:

"What makes us Jonesers also makes us uniquely positioned to bring about a new era in international affairs. Our practical idealism was created by witnessing the often unrealistic idealism of the 1960s. And we weren’t engaged in that era’s ideological battles; we were children playing with toys while boomers argued over issues. Our non-ideological pragmatism allows us to resolve intra-boomer skirmishes and to bridge that volatile Boomer-GenXer divide. We can lead."

Time will tell whether the United States will end up with another Generation Jones leader, but with President Biden withdrawing his candidacy, it has now become a distinct possibility.

Of note in discussions over Kamala Harris's generational status is the fact that generations aren't just calculated by birth year but by a person's cultural reality. Some have made the argument that Harris is culturally more Gen X than boomer, though there doesn't seem to be any record of her claiming any particular generation as her own. However, a swath of Gen Z has staked their own claim on her as "brat"—a term singer Charli XCX thrust into the political arena with a post on X that read "kamala IS brat." That may be nonsensical to most older folks, but for Gen Z, it's a glowing endorsement from one of the top Gen Z musicians of the moment.

Democracy

This Map Reveals The True Value Of $100 In Each State

Your purchasing power can swing by 30% from state to state.

Image by Tax Foundation.

Map represents the value of 100 dollars.


As the cost of living in large cities continues to rise, more and more people are realizing that the value of a dollar in the United States is a very relative concept. For decades, cost of living indices have sought to address and benchmark the inconsistencies in what money will buy, but they are often so specific as to prevent a holistic picture or the ability to "browse" the data based on geographic location.

The Tax Foundation addressed many of these shortcomings using the most recent (2015) Bureau of Economic Analysis data to provide a familiar map of the United States overlaid with the relative value of what $100 is "worth" in each state. Granted, going state-by-state still introduces a fair amount of "smoothing" into the process — $100 will go farther in Los Angeles than in Fresno, for instance — but it does provide insight into where the value lies.


The map may not subvert one's intuitive assumptions, but it nonetheless quantities and presents the cost of living by geography in a brilliantly simple way. For instance, if you're looking for a beach lifestyle but don't want to pay California prices, try Florida, which is about as close to "average" — in terms of purchasing power, anyway — as any state in the Union. If you happen to find yourself in a "Brewster's Millions"-type situation, head to Hawaii, D.C., or New York. You'll burn through your money in no time.

income, money, economics, national average

The Relative Value of $100 in a state.

Image by Tax Foundation.

If you're quite fond of your cash and would prefer to keep it, get to Mississippi, which boasts a 16.1% premium on your cash from the national average.

The Tax Foundation notes that if you're using this map for a practical purpose, bear in mind that incomes also tend to rise in similar fashion, so one could safely assume that wages in these states are roughly inverse to the purchasing power $100 represents.


This article originally appeared on 08.17.17

Representative photos by Canva and Evelyn Giggles|Flickr

Mom hilariously demands to know secret to clean kids' rooms.

Kids' bedrooms can be a source of contention in some households. Some kids are just naturally more tidy than others while some are more like little tornados leaving debris wherever they go refusing to clean it up. Parents can be on different wavelengths when it comes to how clean a child's room should be.

You've got the parents who are huge proponents of simply closing the door. If you can't see the mess, then the mess doesn't exist. You've got some parents that do a weekly or monthly clean themselves in an attempt to save their sanity. Then you've got the ones that have daily room cleans as part of their child's routine, but not everyone can or wants to be at that level.

Ariel B. recently posted a video asking parents to explain how they get their children to clean their rooms as she pans to her daughters' rooms that are in complete disarray.


The exhausted mom starts off by explaining that motherhood is ghetto. In fact she surmises that the "hood" people are talking about when they say the hood is ghetto is indeed motherhood before asking how other parents are doing it.

"My daughters' rooms are so nasty, everything you are ever looking for in your house is in them rooms," Ariel says.

This frustration started when her kids couldn't find their field trip shirts for summer camp, which prompted her to go in their rooms to investigate. She then shows everyone the room where the shirt was lost, exclaiming, "You couldn't find Jesus in this room. You couldn't find common sense, humility, any decent soul in this room."


The room was strewn with clothes, toys and other things. Commenters not only pointed out the mannequin head looking distressed under the bed but related hard to what the mom was saying and supported her rant.

"The mannequin head laying under table looking stressed. Her face looks like it’s saying 'help me,'" one person laughs.

"I'm closing the door. I have an almost 3 & 6 year old and I'm 37 weeks today…I close the door. It’s no way y'all messed the room up like this and expect me to clean it. So, when they get back from Florida, they can clean it themselves," another says.

"You're cracking me up! I can definitely relate to finding wrappers. I said 23 times don't eat in your room. I'm not cleaning it," another writes.

"That last part gets me crackin up every time I watch this. I watch this on the daily to remind myself it’s not just my kid," one mom admits.

But if you watch closely as Ariel pans the messy bedrooms you'll notice there's something important missing from the bed frames...a mattress. One person inquired about the important missing item and the response is not only comical but makes so much sense.

"I flipped the mattress looking for the orange shirt after I stepped on a Barbie jeep and almost broke my neck," Ariel explains before following up in another comment saying the mattress is in the hallway—it likely made it much easier to clean under the bed. And while the mom did receive some advice in the comments, it's unclear if she will heed any.

Bill Gates in conversation with The Times of India

Bill Gates sure is strict on how his children use the very technology he helped bring to the masses.

In a recent interview with the Mirror, the tech mogul said his children were not allowed to own their own cellphone until the age of 14. "We often set a time after which there is no screen time, and in their case that helps them get to sleep at a reasonable hour," he said. Gates added that the children are not allowed to have cellphones at the table, but are allowed to use them for homework or studying.


The Gates children, now 20, 17 and 14, are all above the minimum age requirement to own a phone, but they are still banned from having any Apple products in the house—thanks to Gates' longtime rivalry with Apple founder Steve Jobs.

smartphones, families, responsible parenting, social media

Bill Gates tasting recycled water.

Image from media.giphy.com.

While the parenting choice may seem harsh, the Gates may be onto something with delaying childhood smartphone ownership. According to the 2016 "Kids & Tech: The Evolution of Today's Digital Natives"report, the average age that a child gets their first smartphone is now 10.3 years.

"I think that age is going to trend even younger, because parents are getting tired of handing their smartphones to their kids," Stacy DeBroff, chief executive of Influence Central, told The New York Times.

James P. Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization that reviews content and products for families, additionally told the Times that he too has one strict rule for his children when it comes to cellphones: They get one when they start high school and only when they've proven they have restraint. "No two kids are the same, and there's no magic number," he said. "A kid's age is not as important as his or her own responsibility or maturity level."

PBS Parents also provided a list of questions parents should answer before giving their child their first phone. Check out the entire list below:

  • How independent are your kids?
  • Do your children "need" to be in touch for safety reasons—or social ones?
  • How responsible are they?
  • Can they get behind the concept of limits for minutes talked and apps downloaded?
  • Can they be trusted not to text during class, disturb others with their conversations, and to use the text, photo, and video functions responsibly (and not to embarrass or harass others)?
  • Do they really need a smartphone that is also their music device, a portable movie and game player, and portal to the internet?
  • Do they need something that gives their location information to their friends—and maybe some strangers, too—as some of the new apps allow?
  • And do you want to add all the expenses of new data plans? (Try keeping your temper when they announce that their new smartphone got dropped in the toilet...)


This article originally appeared on 05.01.17