Student service entrepreneurs think globally and locally

Four-year-old Gunn @ Your Service announces grants to 15 sophomores and juniors

The global and the local are on the minds of Gunn High School students who recently won small grants to fund their community service projects.

Fifteen Gunn sophomores and juniors won grants for projects ranging from creating educational videos -- in Bengali -- for the children of single mothers in Bangladesh to building a "bike fix-it" station on the Gunn campus for the school's 800-plus daily bike commuters.

Funds for the $200 grants were raised through parent donations to Gunn @ Your Service, a service "booster club" founded by a Gunn parent, Leif Erickson, about a decade ago. The organization went dormant sometime after Erickson's children graduated, but was revived four years ago by current Gunn parent Lauren Janov. Erickson, who directs the community nonprofit Youth Community Service, continues to serve as an adviser to the Gunn group, Janov said.

"We were fortunate to have a lot of donations this year so everybody who qualified within the parameters of our program received a grant," she said.

Grant winners are sophomores Samia Islam, who will use her grant to purchase an Android tablet that she will load with English and math videos she creates in Bengali for the students at Utsho, a boarding school for underprivileged children of single working mothers in Bangladesh, and to raise awareness about their situation;

Micah Roschelle, who will buy folic acid and hemoxide that he will deliver to doctors and clinics in Cameroon working to prevent sickle-cell anemia, a disease that affects one in four West Africans and is fatal to 80 percent of children afflicted;

Eleanor Su, who will buy ingredients for bake sales that will generate funds for her Schools for Africa Fund, which will build a school in Sierra Leone and help provide epilepsy treatment. This is the second year a Gunn Grant has been awarded to this project;

Rick Wytmar, who will purchase all the materials needed to build a permanent message board to help the Ohlone Elementary School farm supervisor communicate the farm's daily needs to teachers and students; and

Justin Yang, who will build the solar-heating component of the Cluck Bucket, a solar-powered egg incubator to combat malnutrition and enable economic opportunities in developing countries.

Gunn juniors winning grants are Gabriel Alon, who will print postcards created by Gunn photography students for others to fill out expressing their positive feelings toward Gunn and Palo Alto to counter negativity that they've heard. These cards will be sent to the community and were inspired by a Gunn TedX speaker who started a similar campaign in San Francisco to alter perceptions and break down barriers;

Ian Cramer, who will offset the cost of materials to build a fully stocked "fix-it" station that Gunn's bike commuters can use to maintain and repair their bikes and promote the health and environmental benefits of biking;

Aitan Grossman, who will purchase materials to build a working prototype of his energy-saving regenerative bicycle brake that gives riders a boost;

Irene Jeong,who will buy sheet music and accessories, rent instruments and pay for instrument repair for low-income music students attending Music @ Costano classes taught by Gunn students in East Palo Alto. The Music @ Costano program was started six years ago by two Gunn students. This is the fourth year that a Gunn @ Your Service grant has been awarded to this project;

Auston Lee, who will buy math materials and games for Buddies4Math, a program started by a Gunn student in 2010. Buddies4Math student volunteers teach at Mountain View's Castro Elementary School. This is Gunn @ Your Service's second year supporting this project;

Minku Lee, who will purchase musical instruments and pay for printing music for homeless East Palo Alto students living in the InnVision shelter who have not yet been exposed to music instruction;

Klaire Tan, who will publish East Palo Alto middle school students' work written in her after-school writing and journalism workshops and cover student transportation costs to places and organizations the students are writing about;

Leland Wei, who will purchase materials needed to build guards to protect plants and make signs for the Gamble Garden. This is Leland's second Gunn Grant; and

Rachel Wu and Tony Zunino, who will buy supplies for and promote Gunn students' Bay Area Youth in Computer Science project. Project volunteers create computer science curriculum, which they teach to middle and high school students. This is the second year Gunn @ Your Service has supported the project. 

Staff Writer Chris Kenrick can be emailed at


Like this comment
Posted by Well done, Gunn.
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 11, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Hurray for these kids!!! what a great program.

Hey, Micah. I was at Gunn today and could have used the new bike repair station. I can't wait for it to be installed. Great idea!

Like this comment
Posted by Chris Logan
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 11, 2014 at 2:48 pm

What a wonderful success story about our kids in the community. I hope there are updates about their projects.

Like this comment
Posted by Baby One More Time
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 12, 2014 at 9:42 am

Gunn surpasses Paly yet again! Why do all the Chinese real estate buyers want their kids to go to Paly. Why are they adamant that it cannot be Gunn, they HAVE to live in the Paly district????

Paly is so overrated. Gunn so under appreciated!!!

Like this comment
Posted by revdreileen
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 12, 2014 at 8:28 pm

revdreileen is a registered user.

Congratulations to these amazing students for their excellent vision and organizational efforts to serve the world.
A note to the writer: Micah Roschelle is male.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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