May 13, 2021
Westwood Village Rotary Club
Coming up on May 20th: Greg Fischer
Greg Fischer returns to the Westwood Village Rotary Club this week as our guest speaker to share a fascinating perspective on how the early development of Westwood, which began in 1922, came about. He is a long-time student of Westwood history and has in-depth knowledge about the social and economic forces that drove the growth of this unique district of this unique and vibrant Los Angeles neighborhood.
Westwood Virtual Rotary Club Meeting for May 13, 2021
President Nancy started our meeting right on time at 12:30 p.m. after our noon get-together of meet-and-greet.

Our meeting was recorded for those that would like to attend but at a later date. 

PP Michael Newman led us in the pledge of allegiance, “to the greatest country where we reign to support democracy throughout the world”.

John O’Keefe shared his thought for the day.  A wonderful prayer to G-d to guide us down the right path. 

Song Meister PP Ed Gauld shared “School Days” as our song for the week, from 1943. Our Club soloist who also sings in his church choir. 

David Stover was introduced as our special guest. President Nancy pointed out that he has a very interesting virtual background. 

PP Nancy announced May Birthdays: 
Mar 3rd – PP Richard Thompson
May 4th Carol Rosenstein
May 12th Eleanore Meyer
May 14th Lynn Rogo and Marsha Hunt and Sally Brandt 
May 25th – PP Diane Good. 
This coming weekend, the American Cancer Society is holding a “Virtual Relay for Life in the Clouds” on May 15th starting at 2:00 p.m. Festivities start at noon. The website is Supported by our UCLA Rotaract Club and Fight Cancer.  

Our annual UCLA ROTC Award Ceremonies is coming up, offering the WVRC an opportunity to present Sabers of Excellence to the top UCLA ROTC graduates; 
· Cadet Robby Newberry of the Air Force ROTC on May 28th
· Cadet Joshua Ya of the Army ROTC on June 13th

President Nancy Need volunteers to present to both cadets. Please contact her. Phil Gabriel offered to make the presentation to the Army ROTC cadet in honor of his daughter Samantha, who just graduated Penn State and is commissioned in the Army as a 2ndLT from ROTC.

The District 5280 District Conference takes place this weekend from Friday evening through mid-afternoon on Sunday. The "Bette-Xit" conference, as it’s called. This is our annual “changing of the guard” for District 5280 of Rotary.

Our District leadership is calling for donations for relief in India and to man mobile vaccinations facilities in south L.A. Interested Rotary members should go to the District 5280 website to make donations directly. 

The District has announced the upcoming dates to be certified for global and district grant participation through the Memorandum of Training (MOT) on May 22nd. Any Rotarian who is considering must attend.  District grants are $2,000 and TRF Grants are $30,000 minimum. The first certification session will be held on May 22nd at 10:00 a.m.  Certifications must renew annually. Another date will be in early June. 

Tom Barron introduced our guest speaker, Isabel Wang the co-founder and executive director of The Bridging Tech Charitable Trust. Bridging Tech is a non-profit that was founded in response to the COVID-19 pandemic by Stanford University students who are passionate about educational equity. The organization is active in 15 cities around the U.S. Its mission is to bridge the digital divide for underserved children by providing laptops for at-home learning, along with long-term enriching educational opportunities. They strive to impact the lives of the children through ongoing tutoring and mentorship programs.  She started Bridging Tech to promote understanding and enriching educational opportunities.
Isabel is from Shaker Heights, OH.  She focused on race relations, public health, educational equity and technology. Discrimination early on will continue. Race relations are a “huge passion of mine”. “We need to break barriers and reduce systemic inequity so that marginalized communities can thrive and rise from poverty.”  “What I really want to help with is educational equities.” Educational equities are one of the best way to achieve progress forward. 
Her inspiration was a woman named Margot from San Mateo, a volunteer at women’s shelters, who identified difficulties in people who have problems because they do not have access or training in technology; they suffer from the digital divide. Homelessness creates numerous obstacles to work their way through the divide. Margot and Isabel met at Outdoor House (a dorm) and connected based on their passion or social justice. 

She tried calling shelters to make sure students had technology access.  Over 11 million students nationwide do not have access to technology from their home. Students that do have devices complete homework easier, access resources easier, and thus get a better education . Also 3.7 million people do not have access to the internet.  Then she will focus on the homeless centers around the country, identifying New York and Los Angeles as the first and second largest homeless centers in the country. 

Her shared purpose is to bridge the digital divide by offering technology for at-home learning and distribute loaner devices from their school districts. 

Isabel claims to have transformed the lives of 1,500 students in the first 7 months of their operation. They offered free mentorship and tutoring services and partnered with academic services to offer free courses. 

In terms of growth, they just keep on being left behind, and falling further behind. This is focused on the children of the homelessness, who are the innocent victims in this whole process.  Other inequities join together with the digital divide to exacerbate the whole problem. 

The Journey says “as long as you’re passionate you can make a difference”.  Many shelters did not receive laptops last year even though promised, and school districts that worked with them last year are not working with them this year. It’s a journey.

Isabell has made Computers for Kids a partner. You can’t do it all alone, so you must partner to accomplish a lot more.  

A recent court case provided Internet access in homeless shelters in NYC. Bridging Tech is currently made up of all volunteers and hopes to have paid employees in the future. 
She wants to break generational cycles and provide educational equity.  Also helping the parents to understand the importance of breaking the digital divide. 

President Biden is working on universal pre K education that works into their model for breaking the digital divide. 

“If we want to make sure all kids receive an excellent education, we also have to think about how we pay teachers.”  “We have to pay attention on what we pay teachers assures we have the best teachers for our students.” 

Bridging Tech is coming out with an online platform soon to make sure under-resourced students can access tutoring and mentors.   Isabel also wants to work through different legislators on internet access. “Our kids need more funding for internet access”. 

All of this would help with a partnership between non-profits and government institutions working together.  was put together in one year while Isabel and Margot continued their studies. 

We have a history with Isabel’s organization. She provides 40 laptops for the Westside Transitional Village under the guidance of PP Diane Good. She calls it “a very special gift” especially to the students graduating this year for College or Jr. College. 

Phil Gabriel offered the suggestion of placing computers and laptops in libraries, YMCAs or Boys and Girls Clubs to broaden the access. 

Aly Shoji mentioned that elementary school kids are very savvy and are required to have laptops or iPads. 

John O’Keefe asked if they are a 501C(3), which they are, and also about their source of funding which came to about $230,000 the first year.  Isabel is looking into federal grants and foundations. Also GoFundMe campaigns and emails and news features. 

Full-time students started this foundation, including fund raising, and building and expanding the organization. 

PP Dwight asked what $1,000 buys in her organizations, and the success of using laptops in LAUSD. Isabel can get brand new limited laptops for about $75 plus $25 shipping and the manufacturers are adding in free headphones so students can work on their schoolwork without the distraction of loud siblings. 

She likes to work with the shelters that have Internet access, or find those that do. 

Educational equity versus educational equality is a big focus for them, and they work around those problems by working with the homeless students, and getting them internet access. 

On a personal note, Isabel told us she took a leave of absence to work on this cause, making her a senior next year also. 

If you would like to see Isabel’s slide presentation on PowerPoint, click here. (

President Nancy thanked Isabel for an inspiring presentation and added that a donation was made in Isabel’s honor to the Los Angeles Public Library Westwood branch. 

The general meeting was adjourned, followed immediately by a quick vote by the Board of Directors. This vote confirmed a $1,000 scholarship for a student at University and Loyola Marymount High Schools. D5280 has a matching program but with a deadline tomorrow. 

Respectfully submitted to my fellow Rotarians, 

PP Mark Rogo

WVRC 2020/2021 Leadership Team
President: Nancy McCready
Treasurer: Terry M. White
Youth/Vocational Service: Phil Gabriel
Director/Peace: PP Marsha Hunt
Foundation: PP Steve Day
Global Scholarships: PP Chris Bradford
Webmaster: PP Ron Lyster
Director/Merchant Minute: PP Mark Rogo
District Governor: Bette Hall
Immediate Past President: Diane Good
Secretary: PP Diane Good
Community Service: Aaron Donahue
International Service: Nevin Senkan
Program Chair: PP Tom Barron
Membership: PP Mike Newman
Director/Social Media: PP Aly Shoji
Windmill Editor: P Nancy McCready
Assistant District Governor: Michael Lushing