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“Other teams were really surprised to hear that there was even a team from East Palo Alto, much less a small team EPA that won a regional. All of this hard work has helped change the impression that people have of our community,”

- A Hope Horizon student during the FIRST Impact Award presentation.  

The Hope Horizon East Palo Alto High School Robotics Team, the Churrobots, celebrate their win at the Silicon Valley Regional Championship, March 3, 2024.
Hope Horizon Churrobots at the Silicon Valley Regional Championship, March 3, 2024.

For the first time since their founding five years ago, the Hope Horizon East Palo Alto Churrobots robotics team 8048, are headed to the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Championships in Houston, Texas on April 17-20, 2024. And thanks to the overwhelming support from the community, they are fully funded! 

The team provides access to robotics where high school students can learn that STEM is fun, be part of a team and develop leadership skills. To prepare for the competition, students design, build and program an industrial-size robot.

The Road to Worlds

On March 3, 2024, The Churrobots won the Silicon Valley Regional Competition, alongside the Blazing Bulldogs of San Jose High School (Team 581) and Citrus Circuits of Davis, California (Team 1678). After the Churrobots qualified for worlds, they realized they needed to raise $40,000 to pay for flights, hotel rooms, food and equipment if they wanted to go to Houston. 

Other teams often pay their expenses through school/parent assistance and connections; but not the Churrobots. To raise the money required, the Churrobots turned to their community. Through social media, local TV appearances and a lot of hard work by the students, families, coaches and staff the Churrobots were fully funded in less than a month.

Despite being in the heart of Silicon Valley, STEM careers are significantly underrepresented in East Palo Alto. The Churrobots are the only FRC team in East Palo Alto, drawing students from over 10 different high schools and coached by local volunteers. The team is made up of almost all students of color, the majority of whom will be first-generation college students. 

This has been a big month for the Hope Horizon Churrobots; in the middle of the fundraiser, the Churrobots went to Sacramento to compete at Central Valley Regional, where the team was able to seed 5th and was captain of the 3rd alliance. Additionally, one student won the Dean’s List Finalist award, which recognizes an individual student’s leadership and demonstration of FIRST core values.

"The Churrobots exemplify the spirit of community collaboration"

- Proclamation by the City of East Palo Alto congratulating the Churrobots

In addition, the City of East Palo Alto issued a proclamation honoring the Churrobots and their contributions to the community. You can read it to the left.

The Churrobots’ story would not have been possible without their teamwork and the support of their coaches, families, community and the Hope Horizon staff.   

Support the Churrobots!

Follow the Churrobots on Instagram to see all their adventures at the World Championships! The content, like the video below, is produced by the students on the team!

We're not done yet!!!! Churrobots and Hope Horizon East Palo Alto Robotics can still use your support.

It takes a lot to run our organization year round. Your support empowers East Palo Alto students to be the next generation of leaders in STEM. Volunteer with our elementary, middle school or high school robotics teams or support our robotics programs with a donation.

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Amy Joh has been the one setting up and approving blog posts for many years at Hope Horizon as Director of Partner Engagement, but this time, she finds herself in

the position of the interviewee. I sat down with Amy over cups of boba at Mr. Sun to reflect with her on her past 23 years of ministry and the unique impact that she was able to give through Hope Horizon.

A few months ago, Amy transitioned from Hope Horizon to what she now describes as a "fieldwork" part of her career as a classroom aide at Costaño elementary school in East Palo

Alto. Amy felt that God had called her to a different stage in her work, but she insists that for now her mission continues to be serving the youth in East Palo Alto: "God calls us to represent his kingdom and his love everywhere, and especially among the marginalized and everywhere there’s injustice. East Palo Alto is where he has shown me to be. Over time, I’ve fallen more and more in love with East Palo Alto, and it’s where I live, it’s where I continue to invest my time and energy and it has brought me joy to get to know new students and families at Costaño."

To Amy, being able to dedicate herself entirely to East Palo Alto through Hope Horizon was the best way that she could act out God’s calling. Amy acknowledged that within a single community, or a single student within East Palo Alto, there are so many larger issues that could be intersecting, such as educational inequality, racial injustice, poverty, housing insecurity, and immigration; and they can all fit in one person. Although it is possible for Amy to have focused her work on addressing any one of these worthy causes, Amy explained that she partly saw her role at Hope Horizon as storytelling—really knowing and walking with her community and then sharing the wholeness of their stories to others who might be ready to join in sharing God’s love, peace and justice.

"Most of my more recent work at Hope Horizon has been focused on the individual, trying to make sure that they are included and represented. I hope that as I am sharing about the

people I love and care about, others would move the advocacy forward on specific issues. Part of my own story was that I didn’t know the story of communities like East Palo Alto, and learning those stories was very transformative to me in terms of my faith and my ministry at Hope Horizon. This is part of why I especially enjoyed teaching the justice sessions alongside co-workers."

In terms of Hope Horizon’s role when it comes to larger efforts to address issues that communities like East Palo Alto might face, Amy chooses the "bridge" metaphor. Hope Horizon has the ability to "connect people that have something mutual and reciprocal to offer across divides," which ranges from connecting with partner organizations, volunteers, internship programs, schools or churches. Hope Horizon’s holistic approach to community needs that is specifically rooted in Christianity is able to connect churches and Christian organizations to so many areas of community life outside of stereotypically spiritual arenas that God is also powerfully at work in. "Jesus met real, physical needs of people, seeing them live their daily lives, while simultaneously revealing deep spiritual truths and inviting them to trust in God’s love for them."

Amy ultimately saw her previous role and Hope Horizon’s role as being present with students in their everyday moments, week after week: "Hope Horizon attempts to value and see the whole student. There are all these pieces and needs that are of great importance, but to actually be fully present with that student in that moment… To let them know that you love them, you care about them, you’re curious about

what happened in their day, to be patient with them as they react to all these other things that are going on in their lives, to represent that consistent loving kindness of God towards that student, to be with them week after week, can be really powerful. We are not going to be able to fix everything, but I think there’s something really powerful about being with students in their actual moments of life, and to show them that they can experience and know God’s love, in their worst days and their best days, in the midst of whatever life is like in the day-to-day."

Just as Amy strove to show God’s loving kindness to students every day, she too felt the loving kindness of God working all around her during her time with Hope Horizon:

"Throughout the whole time, I felt like I was constantly able to see God, whether in my own self, our staff, in Hope Horizon as an organization, in the people coming to volunteer or intern, or in moments our students encountered God through prayer or mentorship. To me, that will always be one of the most special and consistent things I experienced at Hope Horizon - the ability to tangibly see and experience Christ’s love. As I continue on my journey, I am filled with gratitude for my time at Hope Horizon, for the way it shaped me, for the beautiful people I was able to be in community with and for the privilege of working in a ministry devoted to exemplifying God’s love for the world."

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On August 1st, 2023, we joined communities and neighborhoods across the country to celebrate National Night Out with around 300 students, families, neighbors, friends, partners and volunteers joining us. Due to the generosity of Hope Horizon EPA church partners, we were able to offer a variety of back to school items to our students and families.

Some highlights from the evening:

  • 200+ sports items were given away including balls, cleats, bats, mitts and rackets

  • 150+ backpacks along with school supplies were distributed

  • 100+ boxes of girls scout cookies were shared

  • 75 individual students were given computers

  • 20 graphing calculators were raffled off

  • 1 lucky student won a brand new bike

  • new and returning students registered for fall programs

  • prayer was offered for anyone needing prayer

Our students were encouraged by River of Life Foundation Pastor Tong to Dream Big, Pray Continuously and Step Up as they head into the new school year.

We would like to extend a special thanks to Abundant Life Christian Fellowship, Bethany Lutheran Church, Menlo Church, Palo Alto Vineyard, River of Life Foundation, Shiloh, True North and Vive Church for providing computers, sports equipment and other back to school supplies for our students at our National Night Out event!

We'd like to share a few of our partners' comments as we celebrate the role they played in hosting National Night Out for our community:

River of Life Foundation

In our heartfelt effort to support academic excellence in underprivileged communities, River of Life Foundation is very excited to partner with Hope Horizon EPA in our annual Laptop Giving Program this year. Aligning our belief in the mission of addressing needs to bring hope and a sustainable future, we proudly support Hope Horizon’s unwavering dedication in their endeavor of bringing hope locally to EPA for nearly 40 years. Together, we believe we can help bridging the digital divide, enhancing academic performance, and empowering young minds to achieve more and accomplish further.

Participating in Hope Horizon's National Night Out event at East Palo Alto was an absolute honor. Witnessing the joy on the faces of deserving students as they received laptops was heartwarming. Hope Horizon's dedication to uplifting underserved communities is commendable, and we at ROLF feel privileged to have been part of this impactful initiative.

Menlo Church

Last May, we organized a sports equipment donation drive at the Menlo Church Mountain View campus. The church community came together and donated over 300+ pieces of equipment. We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to redistribute sports equipment - including soccer balls, footballs, basketballs, cleats and more - to the Hope Horizon community at the National Night Out community event. It was amazing to witness the kids' faces lighting up with joy as they received their sports equipment. When you see a child smile so big when they find a helmet that fits them or when you place a ball in their hands, you realize how much it means to them. We hope that each of the kids that received equipment will have the chance to play sports today and build life skills for the future. Thank you to Menlo Church and Hope Horizon!

True North Church

True North Church was delighted to be able to partner with Hope Horizon for National Night Out – an opportunity to build stronger bonds with the community and support local families in a practical way. Our outreach ministry team held a school supply drive and also raised funds towards purchasing additional school supplies.

We were stunned by the outpouring of generosity and support shown by the church body. We think a prior cleanup event at Hope Horizon’s campus allowed many of our members to interact with Hope Horizon staff & witness first-hand the incredible impact they’ve had in the East Palo Alto community.

During National Night Out, three members of our outreach team staffed tables to give away school supplies. We loved seeing the joy of children picking a favorite backpack and loading it with pencils, notebooks, and sports equipment. We were excited to be able to equip 20 high school and college students with graphing calculators that they’ll be able to use for math classes and SAT tests. We enjoyed seeing how the staff recognized different community members and greeted them with smiles and hugs. We were humbled to partner with Hope Horizon in opening doors to hope and a future. Our church’s vision is to point the Bay Area to the True North in the gospel. Our prayer is that we’d be able to open doors to an ultimate hope and eternal future in the love of Jesus Christ.

We are grateful to be part of such a beautiful and loving community!

Check out Hope Horizon EPA's National Night Out celebration in the news and view more photos below.

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