Children’s Champion: Daniel from San Francisco

buildOn Senior Service Superlatives: Children’s Champion
Daniel Luu, Mission High School, San Francisco

buildOn Senior Service Superlatives showcase some of the standout seniors from the buildOn Class of 2015. With 92% of buildOn students graduating and going on to college with more than 150,000 hours of service contributed, we have a lot to celebrate this year!


Like many buildOn students at Mission High School, Daniel Luu is the son of immigrants who needed all the help they could get when they first arrived in America. They came from Vietnam in the hopes of escaping poverty, but assimilating and making ends meet was tough.

“I can remember when my parents worked two jobs to pay rent and collected free stuffed animals from the fire department as Christmas gifts for my brother and me. When I’m helping others, it feels like I am helping my own family,” reflects the graduating senior from San Francisco.

Vietnamese was the only language Daniel knew, which made school difficult as he struggled to learn English. “Struggling with reading made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. It became frustrating. I lost confidence and started to compare myself with others,” he remembers.

By eighth grade, Daniel was falling behind as he continued to struggle with English. Determined to reach his full potential, he motivated himself to improve, practiced reading and writing at home and asked his teachers for extra help. Daniel started high school with his English language skills much improved, but with fresh memories of what it felt like to struggle. So when buildOn gave him the opportunity volunteer with Reading Partners, an after-school tutoring program for elementary school students, he jumped at the opportunity to help kids facing the challenges he faced.


This graduation season, show your #GRADitude for buildOn by investing in future graduates like Daniel.



Daniel has been tutoring at Reading Partners with buildOn for three years now, helping dozens of younger kids improve their reading and writing skills. But one student, a nine-year-old boy named Andrew*, stands out for Daniel.

Andrew was in third grade, but reading at a first grade level when Daniel first met him. Tutoring Andrew was difficult, but Daniel was determined to help him learn to read. Daniel customized the tutoring lessons to better match Andrew’s pace and learning style, while creating games to make learning fun. Before long, Andrew was improving, actually enjoying reading, and even bringing books home with him.

Daniel knew that Andrew was facing his own struggles in life. His brother was in jail, his father was out of his life, and he was living in an economically impoverished community. “It made me sad that he had to go through so many difficulties, but I felt like I could be a role model for him,” Daniel says. “Helping students achieve is an amazing feeling.”

Daniel realized that without someone to support him from a young age, Andrew might face greater challenges later in life. “Tutoring made me feel like I was helping limit poverty too. I learned from buildOn that education is a key to eliminating poverty around the world. Students (like Andrew) fall behind in their reading level because, oftentimes, no one reads to them at home. This puts them at a greater risk of dropping out of school,” Daniel says.

Andrew has inspired Daniel to keep advocating for education and fighting poverty beyond buildOn. When he goes to college next year, Daniel wants to start a community service club to empower other students to have an impact like he’s had through buildOn. He’s even thinking of starting his own nonprofit one day.

“buildOn influenced me to understand that everything I do has a purpose and contributes to the community. I want a career where I know I’m doing the right thing. I want to be able to impact people and make the world a better place,” Daniel says.


This graduation season, show your #GRADitude for buildOn by investing in future graduates like Daniel.



* buildOn is using a pseudonym to protect this child’s privacy.

Posted May 30, 2015 in News, Stories by buildOn

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buildOn’s Senior Service Superlatives celebrate students like Daniel who are making a difference through service. Daniel started school as...

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