When Rey Faustino and his family migrated to the US in the late 1980's, it wasn’t a walk in the park.
Like many new immigrants, they had difficulty navigating the ins and outs of the system with the new way of life in the US as well as the services they needed to help get them a good start. It was that experience that Faustino pulled from to create the non-profit organization, One Degree.
"We were looking for other resources in our community and sometimes our friends and family could help but sometimes they couldn't. And we were always trying to look for different resources. So I wish this was something that I had when I was growing up," Faustino says.
Now, One Degree is a tech driven nonprofit that helps individuals and families access the resources they need to improve their lives and achieve social and economic mobility.
"In the Bay Area, the number one resource folks are looking for is housing resources, affordable housing specifically, which is probably not a surprise because it's so expensive to live here. But the other ones are health resources as well. So health care services and that's everything from mental health to emergency health services."
Faustino admits it was an experience in the Philippines 10 years ago that also inspired him to assist less fortunate immigrants. Working as an intern for Gawad Kalinga and its founder Tony Meloto helped Faustino realize his purpose in service for others.
During the pandemic, Faustino says it was the basic need for food that was the most accessed service on One Degree. "That just was a huge problem with the pandemic, with people not being able to work and pay bills, and oftentimes they would forego food and need to look for food resources." The use of 1degree.org is free for any person or family in the community, whether poor, homeless, or a struggling immigrant.
One Degree is now getting more recognition, as it was chosen as part of the 10 finalists of Google's Impact Challenge for the Bay Area.
"When we got the news about the Google Impact Challenge, we were so blown away, surprised, excited, and so happy because at the time, we were a very small nonprofit organization and every dollar every single dollar counts for our organization," Faustino says.
On Friday, Faustino was informed by Google that they were one of the winners of the $1 million grant.
"I am beyond excited and thrilled! This is a major win for One Degree and Alluma. This grant from Google allows us to scale our service to more people in our community, from new immigrants to single parents and anyone who just needs some support. We have this ambitious goal to reach 25 million people in the next 5 years, and we're closer now because of that. And I'm personally so grateful to my Filipino community for helping us get there," Faustino said.