History & Mission
“Swipes for the Homeless” was founded as a university-recognized student group at UCLA in September 2009 by UCLA sophomore Bryan Pezeshki. Pezeshki asked students to go directly into university dining halls, “swipe” meals to go, which he and a few friends would then deliver to the local homeless population. In December 2009, he was joined by Thach “Tak” Nguyen, a student government council member, whose office combined efforts with Bryan to expand upon the scope and impact of Swipes for the Homeless. They institutionalized the program and established an agreement with dining services to allow students to donate their meal swipes. The meal swipes are then transferred into non-perishable goods and delivered to the local homeless population. In its first year, Swipes for the Homeless at UCLA collected over 10,000 pounds of food and in its past three years has reached over 65,000 pounds, while becoming one of the most recognized groups on the public university campus.
This quickly led to its expansion onto several college campuses worldwide, amongst those being USC, UC San Diego and University of Paris in France. In April of 2012, after a nationwide search and vetting of thousands of applicants, President Obama recognized our organization as one of five “Champions of Change,” personally inviting our group to the White House to honor us for our impact on the community. “Swipes” has since become a state-certified 501(c)3 non- profit organization with the aim of spreading its impact on to every campus in the world.
Swipes for the Homeless is an international, 501(c)3 non-profit organization consisting of a coalition of university and college chapters located throughout the world. Our dual mission is to tangibly and tactically partner with college campuses to alleviate hunger while raising young people’s awareness of homelessness and hunger through education and outreach.
Board of Directors
Rachel Sumekh currently serves as Executive Director, leading the organization’s overall strategy and operations management. She brings four years of non-profit experience ranging from serving as a case manager on the North Side of Chicago to a campus organizer to her current role at Executive Director. After serving as President of “Swipes” at our original UCLA chapter she helped establish the National board and led chapter development. She currently serves as a Global Justice Fellow with AJWS, an international human rights organization. Emails from prospective students asking about creating a new chapter or getting involved are Rachel’s most preferred types of messages.
Deena Dulgerian currently serves as the Director of Operations and Compliance. Just recently graduating in June 2012 and having taken the LSAT shortly thereafter, Deena plans on taking a few years off from applying to law schools to work on the ground-level of non-profits and humanitarian organizations to better prepare herself for a career in legal advocacy. She was active in two organizations while at UCLA that focused on changing the lives of children from low-income communities through mentoring and a summer camp experience. She prides herself on her Armenian heritage and can spend hours on end talking about her travels, the Beatles, or random facts about Greek mythology unknown to most of man-kind.Jose M Iniguez, Director of Media, is charged with “Swipes” online and media strategy — from website and social media to branding and design. He graduated from UCLA in 2008 and worked with UCLA Residence Life for two years, where he first started working with “Swipes” advising student organizers. Currently, he uses MTV’s superpowers for good as Associate Editor of the MTV Act Blog. He is passionate about empowering youth in disadvantaged communities to achieve their full potential, and is equally passionate about empowering others to help achieve that. He is a lover of all things Latin, spicy, flawless, and fierce — like JLo, for example.
Charissa Ebert serves as the Director of Finance. Growing up with a love for the outdoors, it was only natural that she attended the University of California, Santa Cruz where she could hike, camp, and kayak between classes. After graduating with a BA in Business Management Economics, Charissa worked as an auditor for Deloitte and spent a summer living and working in Yellowstone National Park. These experiences fueled her passion for environmental and social justice issues, especially those addressing the intersection of natural resource use and poverty. She currently works for a CPA firm specializing in taxes and investment planning. Charissa is very excited to use her financial expertise to establish a strong fiscal base upon which Swipes can continue their campus expansion and community outreach.”
of food donated as of
Press & Accomplishments
External Affairs and Press:
Finances and Funding:
Marketing and Digital Media:
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