Fall 2012 Newsletter


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Back 2 School  |  Jefferson Award  |  Help us with Our Annual Holiday Events  |  Art & Soul  |  WNA Fundraiser


What Now America - 2012 Back to School Event

Back to School Event, August 2012

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Milad Yazdanpanah

Hello WNA Friend:

Greetings! August was an exciting month for What Now America. We hosted our 5th annual Back to School event and two of our youth participants, T-Juan Spears & Aaronisha Austin, were featured in an Oakland North article. We had a record number turnout of over 700 people!

As we draw close to the end of the year, we are calling on our supporters to continue to open their hearts and wallets to give to What Now America. Our program expenses have nearly quadrupled with the increasing number of students that attend our regular Saturday program.

On November 17th, we will be hosting our 5th annual Thanksgiving Holiday Meal to feed the community with a hot turkey meal. On December 22nd, we will be hosting our 5th annual Movie Day, where we will spend the day at the movies. Last year, La Salle Financial Services supported us in these events. If your company is interested in helping fund either one of our holiday events, please visit our website.

Please continue to read through our quarterly newsletter below for a more in-depth description of our activities. As always, if you are in the area, please do come by and say hello. It’s always great to put a face to our supporters and our students would love to meet you in person.

With gratitude for your support,
Milad Yazdanpanah
Executive Director

5th Annual Back to School Event – The Biggest In Our History

2012 Back to School2012 Back to School

This year's Back to School event on August 25th was the biggest we’ve ever had. We were amazed to see 700 people come out to receive backpacks, school supplies, grocery bags and participate in the day's activities. We were so proud to have our cooking program participants and interns, T-Juan Spears and Aaronisha Austin spearheaded the BBQ preparation that fed over 600 people! We have seen them grow to become confident leaders and chefs and their willingness and enthusiasm to be an integral part of the day’s success was impressive. 2012 Back to SchoolWe had a fantastic time celebrating and enjoying the day with the community and that afternoon we gave out over 400 bags of schools supplies and 15,000 pounds of groceries. We could not have done this without a great deal of support. The volunteers from St. Mary's College and Convergence Church were indispensable and we are so grateful to have such an amazing group of volunteers. And thank you to everyone who donated this year to our School Supply Drive, which enabled us to make this such a successful event and provide school supplies to every child who attended that day.





Check Out the Oakland North Article on What Now America’s Back to School Event:

Activity Booths at Back To School Event


WNA Chefs Aaronisha Austin & T-Juan Spears

Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service

We are extremely proud to announce that our Executive Director, Milad Yazdanpanah, is being awarded the Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service. Milad’s years of dedication, service & selflessness are being recognized and we are thrilled to congratulate him on this amazing honor. CBS reporter Sharon Chin came to What Now America to film a piece about Milad and the organization and it will be airing on the CBS 5 Evening News the Wednesday after election day – November 7th at 6pm. Repeat airings on 11/8 at 12pm and 11/11 at 7:30am.


In 2008 Milad started What Now America with a conviction and passion to do something positive in his community and make a difference. With no funds and no location, he rolled up his sleeves and started reaching out to funders and community members, researching what was most needed in West Oakland. As a result of that groundwork, Milad and a group of dedicated professionals created the successful What Now America program that has kept its doors open every single Saturday for 5 years, in large part due to his enduring devotion. He has developed a key position of trust with the youth and their families and made What Now America a valued member of the Oakland community. Well-deserved congratulations to Milad!

Holiday Events - How You Can Help

As we approach the end of this year, What Now America prepares for some of our biggest events. First on November 17th we will host our 5th annual Thanksgiving Holiday Meal at DeFremery Center. We plan to feed hundreds of our participants, their families and community members with a turkey meal with all the sides and trimmings. Last year we had a big turnout of over 400 people, and we think this year will be much larger as we clearly see a growing need in the community. We also plan to give away over 15,000 pounds of food. On December 22nd we want to continue our Movie Day tradition and take the youth to the movies. As our weekly costs continue to rise, we are in real need of support to help us continue having these special events that mean so much to the youth and their families. Please donate today and thank you for your support! 

Donate To What Now America


Updates and News – November 15th Fundraiser

What Now America has a brand new website! If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, please take a look. A huge thank you to our volunteer Greg Magofna, who tirelessly worked to make this site a reality. We also want to thank Sukh Purewal for her proofreading expertise.

We met the founders of Nesians in Action at the Art & Soul Festival. Nesians hosts fundraising events and a portion of the proceeds from their November 15th event will go to What Now America. The event will feature local musicians and spoken word artists and is at Shashamane's Bar & Grill
, 2507 Broadway in Oakland at 9pm. We hope to see you there! More details on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/events/522174654476747/


What Now America at Oakland’s Art & Soul Festival

What Now America had our first booth at this August’s Art & Soul festival in downtown Oakland. We were really excited to share our work with Oakland citizens and received some very positive feedback & support from those who visited our table.




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Check out what we have been up to

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SFSU Presentation | Student Interns | New Board Members | Students' Work | April Fundraiser


We have been really busy at What Now America in the past several months since we last sent you our newsletter. We have seen a 120% growth in our regular participant base. Not only has our participant base grown, but we just welcomed 3 new board members. These individuals are very talented and have a lot to offer to our program.

I wanted to take this time to thank you personally for your support of What Now America. Without donors and volunteers like you, we would not exist. If you are in the area, we would love to share with you what we have done. Please feel free to stop by and see all of the beautiful smiling faces of What Now America and the impact is has on the youth and their futures.

Warmest regards,
Milad Yazdanpanah
Executive Director

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SFSU Community Organizing Presentation

In March a group of our What Now America board members went to San Francisco State University to present in the class “Community Organizing and Public Health.” Here is more from the professor Sergio Martinez.

Recently my students and I were fortunate to have several Board Members from What Now America present to us. The class I teach is Community Organizing for Better Public Health. It is my philosophy that in order to effectively teach Community Organizing, also known as, non-violent social action, that various voices be brought into the classroom to share lived experiences and lessons learned from social actions. Hence, why I thought inviting What Now America was crucial and important.

The students and I were so impressed with the guest speakers’ dedication and commitment to addressing various health disparities in and around West Oakland. The images and pictures brought to the class that the children took were powerful. They were revealing and inspiring of the impact and hard work What Now America has had in this historically marginalized neighborhood of Oakland.

After hearing each of them share about themselves, we were motivated to volunteer. The stories were insightful and telling of the compassion and determination in making a difference in these families’ lives. The mere fact that a core group of them are there every single Saturday for these children spoke volumes. Several of us were moved by this and several of my students signed up to volunteer with the organization.

We thought it would be extremely important to thank you for the work they do that ultimately impacts all of our lives for the better. It is important that we find time to volunteer or at least continue to support them in their efforts as best we can. God Bless What Now America!

Student Interns - Learning How to Cook

Student InternsWe have started a really exciting cooking program at the center in the past 6 months. A volunteer, Edgar Jaro, has been spending time each Saturday with a group of older students in our center’s kitchen training them how to cook and preparing our weekly lunches. As a result the lunches have been excellent and the participants really enjoy the delicious and healthy hot meals.

These older students look forward to their culinary training each week. It has been amazing to watch these youth embrace this learning experience and take it so seriously, while still having fun. And it won’t stop with our lunches. Some of these youth have expressed that they want to be a chef when they get older! We plan for these students to continue this training and become certified based on California standards. We are looking for your support to sponsor five (5) of our students through this training. The total cost for each student will be $150, are you interested in supporting a student? We are also looking at expanding our kitchen’s cookware and buying more pots, pans, knives and other cooking utensils so the students can continue this invaluable educational experience and learn even more. Please click here to sponsor a student or make a donation for kitchen supplies.

Welcome to Our New Board Members

Charles AndersonCharles Anderson (Development Director) is a native of Oakland and a product of Oakland public schools. He is a professional civil engineer and graduate of the University of California, Davis Graduate School of Management. Charles seeks to cultivate a strong partnership between WNA and the Oakland community that it serves by building a responsive and reliable organization that addresses the community’s social needs. Charles employs his project management expertise, business knowledge, and passion for community development to market and grow the organization.
Charles is also a mentor with the Oriki Theater Rites of Passage Program of Mountain View, California.

Janani KrishnaswamiJanani Krishnaswami (Medical Director/Preventive Health Consultant) is a fourth-year resident physician at Kaiser Permanente and University of California - San Francisco, specializing in Internal Medicine and Preventive Medicine. She is passionate about teaching, mentorship, and working directly with underserved communities and disenfranchised youth. In addition to providing clinic-based patient care, Janani researches the connections between neighborhood environment, self-esteem, and long-term health. Ultimately, she hopes to help communities generate momentum for positive, healthful environmental change. Janani has worked both in the United States and internationally with multiple non-profit agencies in the areas of homelessness outreach, HIV prevention and counseling, addiction recovery, medical relief and acute care, and youth advocacy/education. Janani received her B.S. in Economics, B.A. in International Studies and Public Policy from Southern Methodist University and the London School of Economics. She received her M.D. from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor in 2008 and her Masters' in Public Health (Epidemiology) at UC Berkeley in 2011.

Aaron DoloresAaron Dolores (Fundraising Director) has been a volunteer with What Now America for the past 3 years. He supported WNA during all major events by providing energetic volunteers from My Own Two Hands which he is the co-founder. Aaron is currently the founder of mixologicity.com. Mixologicity is a co-op of individuals who are invested in collectively uncovering and discovering unique and diverse opportunities to share with each other.


Student Projects & Movie Day

I have a dream...I Have a Dream Project

In February during African American History Month, board member Mona Yazdanpanah lead the Art Day curriculum and had the students express their hopes about the future by making “I have a dream” posters. Afterwards, the students presented their dream boards in front of the community members celebrating the holiday at the de Fremery Center.

The students created some really heartfelt expressions of their dreams and it was amazing to see what their aspirations were, many of them wanted to give back to their community. Here is what one student’s wrote on their board – “I want to grow up to be a doctor or a lawyer so that I can help the people of the world.I want to be a doctor so that I can help the world when they are in need of help, but I would also want to work at a children’s hospital so that I can help the little kids that are in need of help. I also want to be a lawyer so that I can help the good people stay out of prison for something that they didn’t even do because the bad people need to be in prison, not the good people.”

I have a dream...

Movie Day December 25, 2011

On Christmas Eve, WNA students and volunteers took a field trip to the movies. We accommodated 50 students and supported by 23 volunteers from My Own Two Hands to participate in this wonderful day. The day was filled with laughter, bonding, mentoring and of course, lots of smiling faces. After the movies we sat together by a warm fire and ate lunch all together as one big happy family, all 73 of us. Once we arrived back at the program to say our final goodbyes, the students had the opportunity to select a wrapped holiday gift to take home and open the next day for Christmas morning. This entire event, along with all the presents, were sponsored by the Thomas Family.

Movie Day

April 11th Fundraiser Event

Our new board member Aaron Delores is throwing What Now America a fundraiser in Oakland! We are really excited and the money raised that evening will help WNA continue its important work. Some of the projects include funding the cooking program, raising money for a summer camping trip, continuing to expand our program’s offerings and keep our doors open every Saturday as we continue to grow. We hope to see you all there and look forward to spending time with you, our supporters.

If you can’t attend but would like to donate to What Now America, please visit our website or our Facebook page and click the donate tab.

When: April 11, 2012
Location: Liege Spirits Lounge- 481 9th Street, Oakland, 94607
Time: 7pm-11pm
Suggested Donation at the door: $15-20
Raffle: Buy a raffle ticket and win some amazing prizes.



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See you tomorrow night at our fundraiser?

What Now America - Logo

April 10, 2012


Wednesday April 11th from 7pm until 11pm at Liege Spirits Lounge in Oakland -  We have secured a hip bar and lounge in downtown Oakland and will be hosting an evening of drinks, networking and socializing.  This event will benefit What Now America.  The best way to support this event is not only by attending, but inviting all your friends out for a drink.  We will simply be taking a suggested donation ($15) at the door, all of the proceeds will go to this 100% volunteer-run organization.  All the information you need to help support this great fundraiser is below. If you can not attend, but would still like to support, please feel free to donate directly to What Now America by clicking on the button below.

Facebook Events
Where: Liege Spirits Lounge - 481 9th Street, Oakland
When: Wednesday April 11th
Time: 7-11pm

WNA is a 501(c)3 and all donations are 100% tax deductible. Federal tax id: 26-2314554

Your year-end gift=twice the impact!

What Now America - Year-end Contribution

Help us reach our goalDear Supporter,

In the season of giving, we’re giving you the incredible opportunity to double the impact of your year-end contribution to What Now America.

Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous supporter, your gift will be matched dollar for dollar up to $1,500 — but only if you give before the end of the year!

Please don’t put it off and miss the opportunity to help put an extra research team in the field for three months.

$50 becomes $100. $100 becomes $200. And $250 becomes $500.

The match only lasts through December 31st. So give today to guarantee that your year-end contribution to What Now America has double the impact on the lives of the West Oakland community.

Signature - WNA
Milad Yazdanpanah
Executive Director


Donate Now


This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | (510) 500-4442


WNA Seasonal Newsletter

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Back 2 School | Seasonal Events | Make a Difference | Students' Work

Dear Supporter:

It's been a little while since you heard from us, but What Now America is still here and stronger than ever. We continue to have a big turnout each Saturday with dozens of youth coming to take part in our SLAM curriculum (Science, Language, Arts and Math) and free grocery give-a-ways. To date, we have distributed over 35,000 lbs of food. We wanted to provide you with some information about upcoming events and opportunities to help What Now America continue to serve the community. Make sure to Like us on Facebook and see the latest on what weʼre doing at the program, along with photos and video posts!http://www.facebook.com/whatnowamerica.

-What Now America

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4th Annual Back 2 School Event

PlaceHolderOn September 17th we had our 4th Annual Back to School Event. This event continues to be a big success and has provided the youth and community with an opportunity to gather together and enjoy some fun family activities. It was a beautiful day and we had a lot to do including the popular science booth. Some other activities included how to make homemade ice cream, slime, Oobelc, relay races and a visit from the Oakland Fire Department. At the event we gave away over 200 bags with much needed school supplies for the youth, 8000 lbs of food and our BBQ fed over 300 people. We heard from many members of the community about What Now America means to them and how it's helped their families. We also had a record number of volunteers from St. Mary's Church, My Own Two Hands, BuildOn and Convergence Church. We are so honored to have this support and we could not have done it without them. We want to extend our thanks to all the volunteers and everyone who donated to make this day a success.

Holiday Season Events

StudentsThe holidays are here and What Now America is ready to celebrate. On November 19th we will have our big holiday lunch with all the trimmings. The youthʼs families and community are invited to participate. We will be serving a traditional Thanksgiving lunch at 1:15 pm, the program will still start at 12pm as usual (itʼs our Art day).

On December 24th, we are creating a tradition of our own. Last year on Christmas Day, we took a group of 25 students to the movies and everyone had a great time. We plan to do that again this year and include up to 30 program participants to join us for a day at the movies. This means the center will be closed that day, but plan to meet us at 12pm at the deFremery parking lot and we'll carpool to the AMC theater in Emeryville. Lunch will be provided as usual and we will return back to deFremery at 5:00 pm.

How you can make a difference!

StudentsAs What Now America looks to the coming year we have many goals we would like to achieve. Most immediately, we will be hosting our holiday events and plan to give away 9000 lbs. of food at during the holidays and feed 300 people a Thanksgiving meal. On an ongoing basis, as prices for goods continue to rise our weekly expenses also are going up and we strive to keep our doors open every Saturday. Lastly we are also hoping to continue to expand and enhance our weekly program. Part of this expansion would be to hire a full time Program Director who could conceive and implement educational curriculum and other activities for the youth.

Donate To What Now America

To continue to serve the community we need your help. As we go into the season of giving we would greatly appreciate any support you can provide. We are a 100% volunteer run organization so each and every dollar will go into the program to benefit the youth. Make What Now America the organization that you gift for that person who has everything, donate to What Now America in their name and weʼll send them information about how the gift is benefiting the youth. We are a 501(c)3 non-profit and all donations are tax deductible.

To donate you can go to our website: www.whatnowamerica.org/support-us/donate-now. Or visit our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/whatnowamerica & click on the Donate Now! tab.

Volunteer with What Now America

We are also looking for volunteers to create and implement our curriculum and most importantly have fun with the kids! If you are interested and would like to do something to give back to the West Oakland community and make a difference with its youth, consider volunteering with us on a Saturday.

Students' Work

We recently asked the students to write what they are thankful for in this holiday season. Several wrote about What Now America and what it means to them. Here are a few of those letters.

“I am honored to be in this program. I appreciate the hard work you do to make the program good. I appreciate the food you make and the events you have for us. Just like the Thanksgiving dinner youʼre going to have for us. It will be so fun! And the Christmas event. Weʼre going to the movies. That will be so fun too. I hope everyone will get to come.” Akira (age 9)

“I am thankful for What Now America. What Now America to me is here to help children read or to help them do something that they canʼt do. I like What Now America because they help me with everything that I need help with. My favorite day is Art day because I love drawing and I can draw everything Iwant at What Now America.” Saron (age 11)

Students Work

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