The Umlaut Foundation helping to educate foster youth in Pleasanton

The Umlaut Foundation website and information on how to sign up can be found here:

Matthew Carter, AVT EIC

The Umlaut Foundation is a non-profit organization founded and run by Amador Valley High school seniors with the goal to give foster and kinship children a proper learning experience.

“We’re dedicated to helping kinship and foster youth who need educational support, so we do that through free tutoring services with volunteers that are high schoolers, and then we also provide supplies if they need it, like textbooks or anything like that.” said Chloe Fields (Chief Communications Officer, ‘21)

Driven to make the learning experience as educational as possible, Umlaut offers three forms of tutoring that are beneficial to foster children as well as the high school volunteers. These forms include drop-in classes, the 10-hour plan, and discovery lectures.

 Drop-in classes are thirty-minute to hour-long sessions that allow the youth to dabble in new interests and subjects. The 10-hour plan provides one on one weekly tutoring sessions and allows senior volunteers to earn hours towards their twenty-hour community service goal. Discovery lectures are 15-20 minute lectures that give volunteers the opportunity to speak on a topic they are passionate about and are willing to teach to the youth.

The organization was founded by Lily Cheng, who originally had the idea to start a non-profit that would allow adoptees to receive tutoring for high school students during her junior year. Due to the lack of adoptee homes in Pleasanton, Cheng was able to expand her idea of helping adoptees to helping foster and kinship youth in Pleasanton receive free educational resources. 

“Pleasanton is much more focused on foster and kinship youth and so she recommended I reach out to Ms. Montgomery who is the Pleasanton unified foster and kinship youth liaison. When I did reach out to her I actually found out that I am considered a kinship youth, I’ve been living with my older sister and have been living with her for about four years. Those were just some little things that made me want to create the Umlaut foundation.” says Cheng.

Upon getting the organization started Cheng was able to recruit other Amador Vally students to help lead the organization.

“Aryan Singh, who’s the CFO, Katelyn Donn, who’s our brand ambassador, and then Phoebe Tang who’s our CTO, we all applied for the board of directors and once that happened we were all able to join and I think that’s when it really started to kick start.” says Fields.

The students who lead Umlaut have gained 46 student volunteers as well as $360 in donations. The potential of such a beneficial organization is huge and can really make an impact in children’s lives. 

“We recognize that there’s this privilege gap in youth when it comes to foster and kinship youth. They don’t really have the same resources as the people who have the support of a family and parents to support them. They don’t have the financial security nets of being able to explore extracurriculars or go to camps for things like SATs and ACTs and things like that.” says Lily Cheng (CEO/Founder, ‘21).                                       

Being a member of the foster youth community puts many children at that educational disadvantage compared to children that have families capable of providing them with resources they need to be successful. The Umlaut foundation is here to make a difference and give everyone an equal shot at a beneficial and worthwhile education.