Irvine nonprofit awards 10 schools with $200,000 in Innovative Grants

An Irvine nonprofit is helping local schools implement creative approaches to teaching and counseling.

Irvine Public Schools Foundation is giving $200,000 to schools that have applied through the Innovative Grants Program. This year’s winning projects include an aquatic science lab, a new climate exploration elective, STEM equipment, musical instruments and much more.

The winning schools are Brywood Elementary School, Eastwood Elementary School, Early Childhood Learning Center, Meadow Park Elementary School, Northwood Elementary School, Northwood High School, Rancho San Joaquin Middle School, Sierra Vista Middle School, Solis Park School, Woodbridge High School.

Woodbridge High School also partnered on a project with University High School, Venado Middle School, Rancho San Joaquin Middle School, Solis Park School, Vista Verde School, Canyon View Elementary, College Park Elementary, and Meadow Park Elementary.

– Submitted by Irvine Public Schools Foundation

Eastwood Elementary School in Irvine receives a $20,000 Innovative Grant from the Irvine Public Schools Foundation. (Photo by Lisa Hu Chen Photography)

Alyssa Scarsciotti, a resident of Orange, will serve with the Peace Corps as a volunteer in Costa Rica in the education sector.
(Photo courtesy of Peace Corps)

Petty Officer 2nd Class Carly Nolan of Trabuco Canyon serves in the U.S. Navy in San Diego.
(Photo by Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Murtha, Navy Office of Community Outreach)

Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, third from left, joins 2023 Women of the Year honorees Jennifer Friend, Dr. Shaista Malik, and Dr. Samar Aziz.
(Photo courtesy of Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris)

Danielle Judd of Trabuco Canyon, CEO of FarmHouse Rescue, received a Woman of Philanthropy award in the Comerica Bank Women’s Business Awards Program.
(Photo courtesy of Danielle Judd)



Orange resident among first Peace Corps volunteers to return to service overseas after pandemic evacuation

Orange resident Alyssa Scarsciotti is among the first Peace Corps volunteers to return to overseas service since the agency’s unprecedented global evacuation in March 2020. The Peace Corps suspended global operations and evacuated nearly 7,000 volunteers from more than 60 countries at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scarsciotti is a 2020 graduate of UC Santa Cruz with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and linguistics. She will serve as a volunteer in Costa Rica in the education sector.

“The Peace Corps has always stood out to me as a unique mutual cultural learning experience that would change my perspective on the world,” Scarsciotti said. “Throughout college, I spent over 1,500 hours volunteering in various programs. I am looking forward to the opportunity to use my skill set and my willingness to serve the community in a new country.

“I’m excited to meet the students that I will be working with, hear about their dreams and aspirations, and engage them in a meaningful classroom experience.”

The volunteer cohorts are made up of both first-time volunteers and volunteers who were evacuated in early 2020. Upon finishing a three-month training, volunteers will collaborate with their host communities on locally prioritized projects in one of the Peace Corps’ six sectors – agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health, and youth in development – and all will engage in COVID-19 response and recovery work.

– Submitted by Peace Corps

Trabuco Canyon native serves with one of Navy’s newest tilt-rotor aircraft squadrons

Petty Officer 2nd Class Carly Nolan, a native of Trabuco Canyon, serves the U.S. Navy aboard Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron (VRM) 30 located in San Diego.

Nolan attended Mission Viejo High School and graduated in 2019. She joined the Navy two years ago.

“I joined the Navy for the opportunity to serve my country and to have a job that is different from anything I could imagine in the civilian realm,” Nolan said.

VRM aircraft are vertical takeoff and landing tilt-rotor aircraft. According to Navy officials, the mission of VRMs is to provide timely, persistent air logistics for sustained carrier strike group lethality, anywhere in the world.

“Being a sailor and being able to become a naval aircrewman as well as earning my naval aircrew wings certification has been my proudest accomplishment,” Nolan said.

– Submitted by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Hanchar, Navy Office of Community Outreach

Three Orange County leaders honored as Women of the Year

Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris named Jennifer Friend of Costa Mesa, Dr. Shaista Malik of Irvine and Dr. Samar Aziz of Tustin as the 2023 Women of the Year honorees during her annual recognition ceremony.

The event brings together community members to celebrate the extraordinary leadership and contributions of three women, one from each city the assemblywoman represents in the 73rd District.

Friend is CEO of Project Hope Alliance (PHA), which works to end the cycle of youth homelessness using a long-term, site-based model of providing whole-person care for youth experiencing homelessness in Orange County. When she became CEO after serving on the board for many years, PHA supported one school and 65 youths.

Under Friend’s leadership, the organization now serves students attending over 40 schools in three districts, having built a nationally recognized model for ending homelessness and achieving a high school graduation rate more than 30% above the national average.

Malik has been the founding director of the UCI Women’s heart disease program, founding medical director of the UCI preventive cardiology program and founding director of the UCI cardiac rehab program.

In 2015, she became the director of the UCI Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine. During this time, she led the expansion of integrative health at UCI. In 2017, this resulted in UCI receiving its largest philanthropic gift in history – $200 million from Henry and Susan Samueli – to make integrative health the mission of the UCI Samueli College of Health Sciences

As the founding associate vice chancellor of integrative health in the Samueli College and the founding executive director of the new UCI Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute, Malik has led cross-enterprise teams to innovate, transform and cement a science-based, whole-person approach to patient care.

Aziz is a 30-year resident of Tustin and the CEO of Sabil USA, a Tustin health and human services nonprofit that has served 18,000 individuals with food security; 5,000 individuals with rental assistance and utility assistance; and 600 individuals with free mental health services that include crisis intervention, suicide prevention and teen, marital and family counseling in the past year.

In the aftermath of the earthquakes that devastated Syria and Turkey in early February, Sabil USA partnered with several organizations, including the Sunrise Foundation, and raised millions to fill 11 containers with new clothes, blankets, winter jackets and medicine for families affected by the earthquake.

Over the past 11 years, Aziz has helped 1.5 million people with food and financial security for their families through her fundraising efforts and community partnerships.

Aziz sees herself as a humble servant doing her part to make a difference locally and globally. She credits her parents and grandparents for inspiring her to give back to the community.

Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris received more than 80 nominations from members of the community who were invited to choose women who inspired them.

– Submitted by Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris

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Trabuco Canyon rescue farm founder earns major recognition for her work

Danielle Judd, CEO of FarmHouse Rescue, received a Woman of Philanthropy award in the Comerica Bank Women’s Business Awards Program.

The program, a partnership between the bank and the Lakers, recognizes women in leadership and their contributions. Judd collected her award at the Arena on the court before the Lakers’ game against the Golden State Warriors.

The Trabuco Canyon resident set up FarmHouse Rescue after almost dying. She said she never imagined that it would grow this much and that one day she would receive recognition like this.

FarmHouse Rescue is a nonprofit organization that saves animals and then uses the healing powers of animals to help adults with disabilities, depression and anxiety, children in cancer wards via a live feed from the farm, and for fulfilling end-of-life wishes. With an area of over 30 acres, the farm has room to expand far beyond its current size and help many more people and animals.

The Bravo! section highlights achievements of our residents and groups. Send news of achievements for consideration to