Portland, OR. Laasya Yenduri, a senior at Sunset High School and president of the nonprofit CyberBORN, has remained positive during COVID-19 by creating a mask initiative and offering virtual classes for young people as seen pictured above.
The organization was originally created as a high school club, but Yenduri found inspiration to take the club to the next level during a trip to India three years ago.
CyberBORN, is a student-led nonprofit, with its primary focus on fulfilling the academic dreams of less fortunate children around the globe. Students strive to improve the lifestyles of hundreds of children by fundraising to provide technology to impoverished children. They’re also raising awareness throughout communities, and opening up digital mentorship classrooms worldwide.
CyberBORN’s worldwide efforts became local, however, after COVID-19 hit back in March. Yenduri shares how online tutoring began. “I realized a lot of students since we had multiple events planned, but were canceled, especially younger students were really bored at home. They didn’t really have anything to do in school since they weren’t there. So that’s why I decided to start an initiative where we start tutoring kids for free.”
From these virtual classes, the hand-made mask initiative was born. CyberBORN, had goals to create and distribute 200 masks by April and 1,000 masks by August. Currently, they have donated 1,570 masks that were made from the students in these virtual workshops.
According to Yenduri, the thought process behind the mask initiative was finding a way to pay their respects to healthcare workers, but also realizing that older patients, were at a very high risk of contracting COVID-19. Efforts were focused on providing a platform where they could not only help one population but all sorts of people.
Yenduri explains, “This was actually a perfect way for us to stay connected and stay close to our nonprofit roots while also doing something beneficial for the community.”
Tutoring kids for free has seen a large growth in attendance since it began. The sessions started off being one hour every weekday. Usually, 10-12 students would join in. By the end of August, however, the organization had over 55 students joining every day with a growth of 500% since the initiative started, according to Yenduri.
Over the summer CyberBORN has held about 160 classes that varied in topics ranging from science to art, to graphic design and other general topics.
Looking towards the future, CyberBORN plans on hosting several other events. One of these events will be a virtual fundraising concert where kids can perform their musical talents such as singing, playing the piano, or playing other instruments that they haven’t been able to perform due to COVID-19. This encourages individuals to start practicing again and get back to the groove of whatever talent they possess.
Yenduri speaks about creating free virtual lessons. “This is the one part of my day that I really look forward to doing so it’s really great we’re still continuing our virtual lessons even during the school year but instead of doing like five times a week we’re doing three times a week so it’s good to see all the faces again and to see the students’ progress.”
CyberBORN is always looking for new volunteers and if interested, you can contact the nonprofit through this contact form online. The organization is also looking into opening up other high school chapters as well as always welcoming new students in their free virtual workshops.
From CyberBORN website: To improve education standards for hundreds of children worldwide by raising awareness throughout communities, fundraising to provide means of technology to impoverished children (currently donating to Indian girls), opening up digital mentorship classrooms worldwide, offering feminine hygiene products to low-income families and homeless shelters, and providing a means of removing the stigma around mental health.