Maria Diaz didn’t see a bright future for herself after she was forced to transfer from school to school. That was until a probation officer introduced her to a Compton-based nonprofit organization called EntreNous which provides a safe space for young students like Diaz to grow and learn.
“I had no idea what nonprofit meant or what the purpose was until I joined the organization myself,” Diaz told Los Angeles magazine. “My first thought once I joined as a student was the same thing that I thought about at any other school; I was worried I would be just another body in a chair, and I would be leaving the site soon, just as I left past schools.”
“The main reason why I trusted them was the fact that after being there for a while, I realized that it wasn’t just any school,” she added. “It was a place that would give you the support that many youths need. Staff would make you feel like you matter and that it is actually possible to be someone in life. They didn’t judge people on where you came from or who you are.”
Through educational and occupational services, leadership training and career readiness, the nonprofit has helped create sustainable futures for youth like Diaz to secure a career. EntreNous is now adding even more value to the greater Los Angeles community through a recent partnership with EQ Office, a Blackstone portfolio company. The nonprofit facility was transformed from an old, unwelcoming venue to a refreshed new facility where young people, like Diaz can receive hands-on learning experiences. Through the new partnership, Diaz secured a full-time position at EQ Office, having found her passion for engineering.
“Getting this opportunity means a lot because I never saw myself getting this far and being lucky enough to work with an awesome team,” Diaz said. “I think EQ Office can make a good impact in L.A. by continuing to open their doors to other youth and to keep talking about all the opportunities that there are out there. Not many youths know what is available to them.”
“Before getting introduced to the program, I would never have seen myself living the life I am now. I knew I wasn’t going down the right path in life, making decisions that made me feel like I wasn’t going to be successful. At that point, I wasn’t thinking about finishing school at all,” she added. “EntreNous and EQ Office changed my life in the way that they opened doors for me, giving me the opportunity to show them that I want to be someone, that I want to better myself in life, not just for myself, but for my kids as well.”
In addition to Diaz’s position, EQ Office and its partners contributed more than $1.2 million, including 5,616 hours of donated labor and $196,000 of in-kind donations of furniture and building supplies. According to EQ Office’s Managing Director of Product and Operations, Charlie Hobey, that’s just the beginning of the work they have planned.
“EQ started a 1:1 mentorship program last month that seven Compton YouthBuild students are participating in. Each student is working with their mentor on specific coaching to help them on their career path, meeting every few weeks to advance their goals,” Hobey told LA Mag. “In addition, there are a number of professional development workshops around careers in tech for these students. Many of them do not realize how many opportunities there are in this field, but many have great computer skills, so we’re helping to expose them to those opportunities.”
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