Like most aspiring filmmakers, Jonathan Galan grew up watching and studying movies. His biggest barrier to becoming a filmmaker, he realized, wasn’t that he didn’t have the right equipment, but rather, he didn’t have the right mindset.
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To help change that mindset, Galan reached out to the La Habra, California, nonprofit Advancing the Seed, a workforce development program dedicated to educating low-income and minority students about financial literacy, digital literacy, business and entrepreneurship.
“Our goal is to develop strong leaders who can create financial stability for themselves, their families and their communities,” said Advancing the Seed CEO Regeanie Corona.
For their first five weeks at Advancing the Seed, students participate in a mindset-growth class called “Activate, Purpose, Evolve,” were they discuss student values and beliefs, and work to overcome self-limiting mindsets. It’s only after this course that many students begin to realize their potential, Corona said.
“We tell students we love them and believe in them, and we genuinely mean it,” she said. “That basic support changes their lives.”
Beyond training and mentoring, the organization also offers ongoing career coaching — even after students graduate. “We use our relationships and partnerships with organizations to help students find suitable jobs or start their own businesses,” Corona said.
Galan was attending classes when he decided to pursue a film career. His favorite part of the program was the group’s positive mindset.
“I liked how open everyone was,” he said. “I wasn’t afraid to speak personally.”
The nonprofit not only promotes positivity through its programs, but advocates for long-term fulfillment in students’ future careers and communities.
“If we can develop people into happy individuals who love what they do, they’re able to give back in a greater way,” Corona said.
After working in cyber security for more than 25 years, Corona quit to pursue her own passion.
“I started giving time to my community and noticing gaps where needs weren’t being met,” she said. “I decided to meet those needs with my skill-sets — that’s where the idea for Advancing the Seed began.”
With help from partners like Union Pacific, who gave Advancing the Seed $10,000 in 2017, Corona hopes to advance the organization’s digital literacy program with more technology and computer analysis training.
“Today we teach the basics of the internet and how to use Google resources, but tomorrow we want to teach technical skills that can help build a stronger workforce,” she said.
The organization also is looking to create energy-efficiency programs, promoting a workforce focused on reducing gas emissions and increasing solar energy use. Above all, the nonprofit wants to double its enrollment in the next year and change more lives.
“I was ready to give up my passion for film, but then I found Advancing the Seed,” Galan said. “Since day one, Regeanie believed in me and told me I shouldn’t give up.”
Galan now plans to create a documentary for Advancing the Seed and hopes to inspire students to get involved. “Anyone can follow their passion if they have the right mindset and motivation,” he said.