OneFuture Coachella Valley celebrates visionary gamechangers at The Future is Ours

OneFuture Coachella Valley celebrates visionary gamechangers at The Future is Ours

February 2, 2024 – Theresa Maggio | Special to The Desert Sun

The Future Is Ours event is a celebration as inspiring as its name. OneFuture Coachella Valley will shine a spotlight on five honorees who are shaping the trajectory of local students, gifting them with a college education that elevates their socioeconomic mobility and ignites a transformative journey towards endless possibilities. Marking its seventh year, the awards program will be held Feb. 28.

The 2024 honorees have left an indelible mark on the Coachella Valley. By creating and supporting high impact programs that drive student success, these passionate leaders transform the outlook for students from low-income families. Their actions reflect OneFuture’s mission: to pave the way for students to succeed in college, career and life — thus expanding and enhancing the local workforce and building prosperous communities.

The future is ours, and it’s a future these honorees are cultivating for the better.

“I am deeply inspired by these honorees who are truly committed to unlocking the power and potential of our students,” said Sheila Thornton, CEO and president of OneFuture Coachella Valley. “Each exemplifies the impact we can achieve when we join forces to shape a future where every student thrives. Their unwavering dedication resonates with the core values of OneFuture to empower young people to reach their full potential, achieve their economic and life goals and contribute to the economic growth and success of the Coachella Valley.”

The Future is Ours 2024 honorees are:

The Terry and Jacke Green Visionary Award

Mary Caldwell and Steve Weiss, Principals/Philanthropists, CW Fund
Through their generous investment, Caldwell and Weiss led the development of OneFuture’s Healthcare Workforce Scholarship Fund, challenging our community to come together and provide financial and comprehensive support services for health care-focused scholars. Additional nursing scholarships for students working in CSUSB’s Street Medicine Program help address the health care needs of homeless, unsheltered and farmworkers. As PGA West members, the couple championed the club’s scholarship fund, which awards $75,000 annually.

Engaging Partner Award

Sarah Fry, Director of Nursing, College of the Desert
Recognized for her outstanding contributions to OneFuture’s Healthcare Workforce Leadership Roundtable, Fry’s strategic initiatives and collaborative efforts bolster the region’s health care talent pipeline. Her exemplary leadership and mobilization of COD’s nursing programs have strengthened crucial partnerships and spearheaded key programs.

Inspiring Leadership Award

Arthur Kimball, Principal, Riverside County Office of Education
Kimball advocates for a brighter future for young adults ages 18-24 who face unique challenges including homelessness, foster care and justice involvement. His work is an exemplar of the region’s goals to assure educational success for all students.

Empowering Students Award

David Budai, Career Technical Education Teacher, Coachella Valley Unified School District
Serving as the career technical education teacher on special assignment, Budai supports 47 STEAM programs in elementary, middle and high school. While orchestrating science and history fairs, KidWind, and summer STEM learning, he secured a $300,000 grant to involve 100% of CVUSD middle school students in environmental sciences. Budai collaborates with hundreds of teachers and influences thousands of students, developing their college and career goals.

The Future Is Ours Award

Elias Hernandez Mancilla, Program Coordinator, CSUSB College Corps
From OneFuture scholar to Gent’s Alliance participant to college leader at the CSUSB Palm Desert campus, Mancilla’s exceptional journey, impressive achievements and personal growth inspire his peers and echo his enduring impact on the Coachella Valley.

The Future is Ours event is also a fundraiser for the Battle of the High Schools¸ a competition between 13 high schools to achieve the highest FAFSA completion rate. The three winning schools received a combined total of $13,000 in funding in 2023. Additional funds raised support OneFuture’s programming including scholarships, support resources, internship opportunities, mentoring and more.

The Future is Ours awards celebration will feature entertainment by DJ Modgirl and will take place Feb. 28 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Agua Caliente ResortCasino Spa Rancho Mirage. Tickets start at $120, and sponsorships are available at

Theresa Maggio is the business development director of The Competitive Advantage, a full scope business development and revenue generation marketing firm in Palm Desert, Calif. She proudly works with the College of the Desert Foundation, OneFuture Coachella Valley, the Association of Fundraising Professionals CA, Desert Communities Chapter and PS Concerts.