Ezequiel Olvera of El Sereno was 10 years old when he bought a neighbor’s old gumball machine for $70. A family friend and neighborhood shoe shop owner allowed the young Olvera to install the gumball machine in his shop so the youth could begin raising money to go to college. Those 25-cent gumball sales added up, and eventually Olvera purchased more machines. Our Town El Sereno describes what happened next:
Despite the challenges that arose with Olvera’s idea of owning a gumball machine at age 10, he learned a lot about his community as he walked the streets of El Sereno to fill his gumball machines. He was able to witness many issues in the community, as well as differences between El Sereno and the surrounding communities. By age 16, Olvera had fifty five gumball machines and two soda machines in over twenty locations. He went on to pursue higher education at the University of California Santa Cruz.
Olvera, now 28, has started the Gumball Foundation, which has granted about 40 college scholarships. Last week, the Gumball Foundation was honored by the Annenberg Foundation with an Audience Award and a prize of $10,000.