When I started documenting our family history, I wasn’t sure what I was looking for. I only knew that as my great-grandmother and grandfathers (and by now, many others) passed, their stories left with them. That sense of slow, unstoppable permanence was — and still remains — quietly terrifying. I began to record interviews and track down documents, drawing heavily from work other relatives had the foresight to start.

Three generations all the way from my great-great-grandmother in China.

But as the branches of the family tree began to reach their limits, I realized I wasn’t sure what to do with them. The pieces aren’t all that valuable on their…


This post is a part of my Weekly Make series, where every seven days I force myself to create something and put it out in the wild for you to gawk at.

In my previous Weekly Make, I used reinforcement learning to traverse the Twitter network looking for positive influencers. When I posted it on my Facebook, I received great feedback. One comment in particular stood out.

So I hopped on the phone with Jim to figure out if there was a way I could be useful. It turns out he was interested in finding people with untold, inspiring stories…


This post is a part of my Weekly Make series, where every seven days I force myself to create something and put it out in the wild for you to gawk at.

The internet can be a nasty, nasty place. Vicious comments seep their way into even the mildest posts. Throw politics into the mix and you’ve set yourself up to see the worst of humanity.

Mentions for my Brooklyn congressman, Hakeem Jeffries. That default avatar is really trending.

Twitter facilitates anonymity and has become the chosen one-to-many communication platform for celebrities and politicians, making it the perfect environment for invective.

But I, the naive millennial that I am, believed that there were…


This post is a part of my Weekly Make series, where every seven days I force myself to create something and put it out in the wild for you to gawk at.

Retouching photos is never something I formally practiced. My Photoshop skills started all the way back in middle school. In hindsight, that talent did not quite bring me the fame and popularity I’d hoped for.


This post is a part of my Weekly Make series, where every seven days I force myself to create something and put it out in the wild for you to gawk at.

I’ve known for awhile that Google tracks my every move. But only after I downloaded the data did I fully realize how frequently they received data and its incredible precision. And when you replay it on a map, it’s absolutely fascinating.

For those less technical or just want to see a static view of where you’ve been, you can go to your Google Maps Timeline. …


Continuing your education while transitioning out of the foster care system.

“Do everything beforehand. Deadlines are not your friend.”

“It’s always good to ask about programs. I didn’t find out about ETV until very late and I’d already taken out loans. I wouldn’t have had to pay so much in interest.”

CHECKLIST

  1. Apply for an Education and Training Voucher (ETV) as soon as possible.
  2. Write down financial aid deadlines in your calendar.
  3. Read about how financial aid programs work.
  4. Read about to CUNY programs specifically for foster youth.
  5. Apply for the Charles Evans Emergency Education Fund.
  6. Ask your foster care agency…

Finding a job while transitioning out of the foster care system.

Finding a job while aging out of the system can be confusing. There are so many resources, many places don’t get back to you, and it can be difficult to choose where to start.

One secret, though, is that many programs have special programs for foster youth. We’ve listed some here, and you should talk to your case manager about other opportunities.

CHECKLIST

  1. Start the iFoster process.
  2. Read about Workforce1.
  3. Put the date of the next Civil Service exam on your calendar.
  4. Talk to your case manager about other job…

Finding housing when you’re aging out of foster care.

“You have to get out into it, because for housing, nobody is going to do it for you. You have to go out and find it yourself.”

Usually, case managers will emphasize NYCHA housing as the main option when you age out. Housing is scarce, but not everyone knows that there are other options they should look into.

CHECKLIST

  1. Starting at age 16, check the Classified section of the newspaper every Sunday for NYCHA housing in normal tenement buildings.
  2. If you’re planning on going to college, read more about the CUNY dorm…

The unofficial guide to transitioning out of the NYC foster care system.

Transitioning out of foster care is a difficult and confusing process. To make it harder, there isn’t any one central place to find all the information you need.

We’ve put together a list of resources recommended by youth who are or have recently been in the foster care system. Select a topic below to learn more about it.

TOPICS

  1. How to get housing
  2. How to continue your education
  3. How to get a job

This is an project developed at #hackfostercarenyc and based off interviews from youth from the foster care system. It is not written or endorsed by the NYC Administration for Children’s Service.


The data suggests it might not do that much.

A couple years ago, I attended a talk by Nancy Brinker, the founder & CEO of Susan G. Komen. At the time, they were in the middle of ongoing controversy about their use of lawsuits. Brinker argued that they had to enforce their trademark on “For the Cure” and pink-related marketing or they’d lose their ability to fundraise.

At the end of her presentation, I raised my hand.

“So,” I began, “Dan Pallotta spoke here awhile back and discussed how sometimes nonprofits have to act like companies so they can maximize…

Ryan Villanueva

Full-stack developer and product strategist

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store