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Monday, Jan 30, 2023
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Nonprofit’s $10,000 Grant From L’Oreal

Granada Hills resident Raja Marhaba, founder of the nonprofit Jonathan Foundation for Children with Learning Disabilities, has been chosen as one of 10 winners of L’Oreal Paris’ 2019 Women of Worth Awards, which annually honors women philanthropists. Marhaba, whose two sons were diagnosed with ADHD and learning disabilities, founded the Jonathan Foundation in 2013 after an expensive and arduous fight to access school services that properly catered to her children’s needs. Despite the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 2004, she said many public school systems, including the L.A. Unified School District, just don’t have the budget to provide adequate services for such students. She called this a “national problem.” “I ended up suing the LAUSD. … In the end, we prevailed. But it put a tremendous amount of financial hardship on my family and my business, and excruciating pain emotionally,” Marhaba told the Business Journal. “The foundation was born because I don’t feel any family should have to go through that extreme financial and emotional burden, and the children shouldn’t be sacrificed for a free and public education.” The nonprofit now raises money to fund psycho-educational assessments that help students find learning styles that work for them. Marhaba has advocated pro bono for 293 families since founding the Jonathan Foundation almost seven years ago — work she called a “labor of love.” Being honored by L’Oreal Paris, she said, has drawn “a lot of noise” to her small nonprofit. “I’ve been contacted by attorneys that want to collaborate. … I’ve been meeting and networking and expanding my connections. … It’s more than public awareness, it’s trying to come up with programs to fix the broken system,” she said. Marhaba said she plans to use the $10,000 grant to buy assessments for kids. “Our trademark is: ‘How are you wired?’ If you don’t understand how the brain is wired, there’s no way you’re going to be able to help the child. Assessments bring it all to life,” she said. She and her son Jonathan, the Foundation’s namesake, attended a gala Dec. 4 in New York City where the cosmetics company honored the 10 winners and announced the “national honoree,” chosen by number of public votes on the Women of Worth webpage to receive an additional grant of $25,000. The winner was Brittany Shiavone, founder of Brittany’s Baskets of Hope, a New York nonprofit which provides support to parents and families of new babies with Down Syndrome.

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