Founder/Executive Director, C.U.S.P.
(Committed to Uplifting Single Parents)
Rashunda Rene has more than 10 years of financial operation experience for a major corporation, and is the driving force and Founder of C.U.S.P. (Committed to Uplifting Single Parents), a registered 501(c) (3) nonprofit in Los Angeles California, whose mission is to empower and assist single parents with the difficult challenges of parenthood through a range of financial and social services which will allow them to provide safe and loving homes for their children.
In addition to her role in the corporate arena, and with C.U.S.P., Ms. Rene is also the Coordinator for South-LA-Saves. South-LA-Saves stresses good saving behavior and supports individuals and families to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth.
As a Los Angeles native, Ms. Rene graduated from California State University Long Beach with her Bachelors in Psychology. Always striving for professional development, Ms. Rene is a member of National Association of Professional Women (NAPW) an exclusive network for professional women to interact, exchange ideas, educate, and empower. She continues to advance her knowledge through trainings on nonprofit and business management, leadership, and technology. With a passion to inspire and motivate others to achieve their full potential, she continues to volunteer her time with many other community organizations and serve as a mentor.
What Called Me to Start C.U.S.P.?
In 2008 while sitting in traffic on the way home from work I was thinking and saying to myself, there has to be more to life than just going to work every day and sitting in traffic only to go home for a few hours- to get ready to do it all over again. There had to be more purpose to my life. I immediately turned the radio off and just began to repeat to myself “there has to be more.” I then started thinking, at what point in my life had I felt the most fulfilled and it hit me, I felt the most fulfilled when I was coaching High School Basketball. I had coached for 5yrs and truly enjoyed coaching and being a positive role model for the young girls. During that time, I worked part-time, attended college full time as well as coached during the Season and Summer Camp. At the end of every season no matter what our record was, the girls would always tell me how much they learned and not just about basketball. I had always kept that with me and felt proud that they received more than the understanding of playing basketball from being around me. So with that, I thought maybe opening a gym and starting a full service program and a team would be the thing to do. The gym would have a family atmosphere but an emphasis would be on basketball training. It would be a way for me to do what I loved and give back to the community.
I called my mom when I got home and just began to share with her my ride home and all the things that were running through my mind. She expressed to me that she could tell that coaching was something that I really loved and would always support me in whatever I decided to do. It was at that point that our conversation began to get much deeper and she shared stories with me about being a single parent and some of the challenges she faced. We talked for hours and the more she talked the more I started to think how tough it must have been for her to be a single parent but yet never show how difficult it was.
It was maybe a week later, after many conversations with God and many many prayers asking him to show me what my purpose was in life that I saw the vision for the gym changing to be some sort of space to help single parents with the challenges they faced. At that point I didn’t know what all of that meant but over time it became very clear. The ride home sitting in traffic wasn’t so bad anymore; it gave me time to think and begin to put pieces together.
How it all came together:
That was 2008, fast forward to 2011 because I did start all of the research and getting an understanding of what it meant to have a nonprofit but in 2009-2010 life happen and I had to put the idea down. At the beginning of 2011 everything was back on track and I picked right back up with the idea of starting the organization.
No one in my immediate family had ever started a business let alone a nonprofit, so it was truly up to me to get this information. Fear played a big role many days but on those days I prayed even more and asked God to make a way if this was meant to be. I went to as many classes, conferences, and seminars I could to make sure I had enough knowledge to get this started. It all came together and God has continued to give this organization Favor. We received our California Incorporation in early 2011 and in August 2011 we were a registered 501c3 Nonprofit organization.
I stay focused and inspired because of the many emails and phone calls I receive with people thanking us for the work we do. The fact that God gave me something so that I can give to others is so powerful, it just amazes me each and every time I think about it and it makes me work harder so that we can help more people. The original vision for the organization for what I thought it would turn out to be is long gone, and its gone because God has made it even bigger, the strides we have made are far past what I originally thought in 2008.
This has taught me that we can't be afraid or ashamed to go back to an idea or start over. If I had not opened myself back up to receive in 2011, I would have missed out on this great opportunity to have this organization and all that it will offer. CUSP is by far my greatest accomplishment to date.
How I balance Full-Time Work and C.U.S.P.:
CUSP is my passion and purpose; I would do it full time for free if I didn’t have the responsibility of providing financially for my household. But because it is my passion and purpose I give it 100% once I leave my Full –Time job every day. Time management is extremely important and since it is important to me, I make the time for it. There is a saying that people will make time for what matters most to them no matter what, and that is exactly what I do. I am at work Monday-Friday 7:30am – 4:30pm and I start meetings for CUSP usually at 5:00pm. I want this organization to help single parents and our community as a whole, if I don’t work hard to get the resources for CUSP to provide what we say we will provide then we can’t be successful. I feel as though God has placed this assignment on my life and I have to be obedient to that and work hard so that this organization can Bless as many single parents as possible. Do I get tired, ABSOLUTELY but I know all the hard work and time I put in now will be well worth it. I take time to be with my family and friends as often as I can, my mother doesn’t live in the same state as I do so I take 3-day weekends to visit her at least every other month. Although I work Full-Time and have the organization which I dedicate more than 40hrs a week to; I make the calendar for CUSP, so if I need to take a break for a couple of days I can.
Advice I would give to someone who feels they don’t have the time because they work Full-Time:
If you have the desire to give back to your community, DO IT! The feeling you get from someone saying “thank you, I didn’t think anyone cared” is AMAZING! It makes the long nights worth it. A program we have with CUSP is Embrace A Family which is our Holiday Giving Program. Each year without fail I say to myself “keep it together Rashunda you can’t cry in front of this family” and each year I FAIL. It is such a great feeling to hear their stories and just how thankful they are that someone took the time to show them love and support. It’s not about having time, it’s about making the time. I feel we are all to be of service in some manner, whether it’s at your child’s school, at church or at another community organization and the lack of time should not be a factor. No matter how big or small your desire is to give back, it will make a difference to someone and that in itself is worth it. That person you touch could be the next President, Doctor, Scientist, or Visionary and it will be because you cared enough to serve and give back. You can’t miss that opportunity.
Ms. Rene currently lives Los Angeles and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 323-682-8085.