We are honored to formally welcome Marissa Martinez onto the team as the Open Educational Resources (OER) Program Coordinator! 

Marissa’s passion for improving higher education stems from their own experience in college. They are the second oldest of seven siblings and was the first in their family to graduate from university. Marissa received their Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of California, Merced (UC Merced). 

While in college, Marissa quickly experienced systematic barriers many other low-income, first generation students face as they complete their education. After joining their peers in a protest to establish UC Merced’s first student Intercultural Hub, Marissa became privy to the predatory nature of many higher education institutions and became heavily involved in student and community organizing in response. 

During their undergraduate studies, they served as a student government representative and implemented UC-wide campaigns and large-scale events, such as UC We Vote, Racial Justice Now, student town halls, campus fairs, and others aimed at garnering student civic engagement. As an Associated Students of UC Merced (ASUCM) legislative fellow, they developed workshops designed to train UC students on best lobbying practices and legislation affecting UC and California State students, specifically concerning SB 461. These experiences forged their passion for policy and inspired them to dig deeper roots in the community they wanted to serve. 

Marissa began working closer with the Central Valley community through their Voto Latino Fellowship, where they created and cultivated relationships with community partners to support organizing Latine student and community movements and the 2019 Voto Latino Summit. Working alongside the organizers and community members inspired Marissa to make a deeper commitment to the Central Valley; as such, they became an active member of Power California’s 99 Rootz as a Prop 15 campaign canvasser and youth leader.

After working with Central Valley high school youth, Marissa realized the needs and voices of young people are consistently undermined, or all around ignored. With the increasing severity of climate change, political polarizations, social unrest, and socio-economic disparities, young people are forced to grow up with no secure future in sight. 

Upon graduation Marissa felt called to empower young people and began working with low-income youth in the behavioral, mental health, and education fields. This included serving as an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Behavioral Technician,  Direct Care Staff for group home children, and Academic Advisor for high school students. After working with students, Marissa was ready to marry their passion for policy and youth advocacy and begin eliminating systemic barriers that keep systematically marginalized youth from obtaining an equitable education.

Marissa began interning for the Michelson 20MM Foundation’s OER initiative in the summer of 2022, where they leveraged their passion for eliminating systemic barriers to advance a more affordable and equitable postsecondary environment. Now, they will further their work as the OER Program Coordinator and continue to aid Michelson 20MM in advancing affordable, equitable, culturally relevant, and high-quality learning experiences for postsecondary students through the use of OER.  

“I am committed to breaking barriers in higher education through OER and am excited to begin my career journey with the Michelson 20MM Foundation!” Marissa said. 

Please join us in welcoming Marissa!

Michelson 20MM is a private, nonprofit foundation seeking to accelerate progress towards a more just world through grantmaking, operating programs, and impact investing. Co-chaired and funded by Alya and Gary Michelson, Michelson 20MM is part of the Michelson Philanthropies network of foundations.

To sign up for our newsletter, click here