( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) The Organization Offers A Variety of Programs to Reduce Inequality
ENSPIRE Contributor: Adam Cetorelli
Based in Los Angeles, CA, Urban Not Average (UNA) is a growing organization dedicated to holistically addressing the issues children from lower-income backgrounds face. The organization has many projects, offering food drives, a homeless outreach program, physical training for student-athletes, a work-study program, tutoring, and scholarships for athletes, emerging entrepreneurs, and young artists. Combining education, housing, nutrition, and mentorship, UNA strives to improve the lives of children and families who are struggling by providing resources that usually come at a cost too high for lower-income families to afford.
CEO and Director Shandrea Moody-Wilson is working hard to grow the organization, as its multifaceted approach to mitigating the impact of economic insecurity on future generations promise to reduce inequalities wherever the organization can reach. Keep reading to learn about Moody-Wilson and UNA’s many programs.
Why did you decide to start Urban Not Average? What led you personally to this cause, and how are you uniquely equipped to tackle it?
I decided to start Urban Not Average because as a single mother, who had challenges with rent, college, resourced materials, and on top of everything training expenses for my talented 5-year-old daughter, was beyond stressful. Once I saw the challenge it was for me as well as other parents and guardians who did not have it, it caused a bit of a heartbreak. But the smiles and cheers from the children once they won medals and trophies were priceless. The children who were blessed with so much talent, more than my child, were unable to endure the same excitement. Which was the most heartbreaking.
When did Urban Not Average start? How many kids has the non-profit helped?
Urban Not Average was started in 2016 and was incorporated in 2019. Urban Not Average has helped over 17 kids.
Your mission revolves around reducing inequalities in urban areas, but your scholarships combine merit-based and need-based criteria. Why did you choose to create scholarships that have this balance of requirements?
The reason I chose for our scholarships to be created with these requirements is because every student will need a different amount of help financially. We offer three different scholarships that cater to sports, performing arts, and entrepreneurship, so we want students to pick the scholarship that fits best to what they are trying to pursue.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your work, and what have you done to continue helping kids during these times of insecurity while also staying safe?
COVID-19 has been an unforgettable, unfortunate situation for us all. During COVID UNA has extended its Work-Study program for High School students to work and study while away from their traditional studies and activities. UNA has also rented out spaces in Los Angeles County to tutor ages 4-18 years of age. We are soon to open Social Distance Training. Where all ages are able to increase physical performances prior to their traditional season opening.
How does the Urban Not Average work-study program assign kids to jobs?
The students get assigned jobs when they register on the UNA Work-Study form. We try our best to find jobs that are toward their desired career field, but sometimes the jobs offered in the Work-Study program are jobs to give them some type of work experience.
Does Urban Not Average have a gym space or equipment for the training sessions it offers? Are these services only available to student-athletes?
UNA does not have any gym space. We do have equipment for the training session that the coach provides for the student-athletes. The Social Fitness program is structured to help the athletes with training, teaching them to condition their body, and nutrition to help them perform better in the sports they are playing in.
Are there any requirements for applying for the tutoring program, or is any student able to apply?
For our tutoring program, there is no requirement for students. Any student from K to 12th grade is able to apply for the tutoring program.
I see that your website includes a Members-only section. Is this for recipients of Urban Not Average’s help or for donors? What do members use the page for?
The members’ page is used for people to subscribe to UNA. The member page is for members to stay informed about the programs and to get a notice about upcoming events that UNA is having.
What does the future hold for Urban Not Average? Are you working on anything new that will be released soon?
UNA’s goal is to provide support for Student-athletes and families nationwide. Right now we’re getting ready for the BOSS Summit 2021. The Boss Summit is a ravishing event where women around the world can share stories, be mentored, and network while building an empire. BOSS Summit 2021 will have several empowered workshops, masterclasses, first-class catering, social activities, private spa treatments & more.
To learn more about Urban Not Average or donate to their efforts, visit their website at https://www.urbannotaverage.com.