My colleague at Pasadena Unified’s Center for Independent Study, Andrea Reynoso, introduced me to one of her students, William Simpson, who was doing some amazing things. William came in for an interview recently.
By Scott Phelps
William started the non-profit Resolve LA in 2020, during COVID. He made a website and was playing a video game with a friend. “My friend said let’s do a clothing company, and I want to call it Resolve.” He wasn’t up for it, but he went along. He looked up resolve. One definition is to make something better, to find a solution. They looked at homelessness, social injustice and environmental concerns. It then snowballed. He pitched the website template to some San Marino HS classmates and brought in some friends. They came together, started to focus on marketing, and made Instagram infographics: “Since we are a nonprofit, we need to put out information. Show the problem, cause, sell the solution. Show the infographics—what’s going on with homelessness, etc. Make a clothing line that matches. Some design on it that shows the message. All the proceeds go to the cause, to some need.” The website is resolvelosangeles.org.
Launching the effort and ramping it up
They started with homelessness. They sold 20 hoodies, raised $400, bought food, and gave it to homeless folks. Next they made a 12-piece LA River collection with the bridges on the clothing. They made clearing up the river cool. They sold out the whole collection in 2 weeks, bought a ton of supplies, went into the river and cleaned it up, partnering with Friends of the LA River, and donating to them. A USC student did a film about Resolve LA, following William around every day as he ran Resolve LA, printing clothes downtown, getting the photo shoots done, etc. His stepdad was dying of cancer at the same time. This was summer of 2022, a very challenging time.
They experimented with making clothing based on breaking news, with women’s reproductive rights after the US Supreme Court decision. They are planning a drug recovery effort now: “We want each project to be bigger. So far we have raised $2500 for Team XII and donated 150 shirts to Impact House in Pasadena. We are gonna donate another 75 shirts and all the proceeds from an upcoming runway fashion show, planned for May 27th in Hollywood. We are hoping to get to the $7000 range.”
His educational journey
William said going from Renaissance Arts Academy in 8th grade to San Marino High School in 9th grade was very difficult. His ripped jeans and yellow shirt didn’t fit with the jocks and cheerleaders. They made fun of him. He ended up making a lot of friends, who work with him now. Because of COVID he only attended as 9th grader and first half of 10th grade. Then everyone switched to online. “I thrived online. That’s when I got into stocks, building computers, reading a ton of books and listening to audio books.” He stayed online in 11th grade. He had to fight hard for this option.
His second semester junior year San Marino was really pushing him to come back in person. He refused and received 20 truancies. Within those 20 days, he had studied the whole California High School Proficiency Exam preparation book, booked the next test, and passed it. He was ready to click and graduate when they relented and let him stay online. After his junior year, he switched to Pasadena USD’s Center for Independent Study: “It is so flexible. I can work all day and catch up at night. I was also able to continue taking in-person courses at PCC. I really love online school.” He has to decide on college pretty soon. He has three options: UC San Diego, Loyola Marymount University and the University of Virginia..
Keeping Resolve going
He is still closely connected to high schools because Resolve LA has members in many high schools. He loves that many are the highest achievers. For example, Meghan, who makes TikToks is ASB Junior Class President this year at San Marino HS. At Monrovia HS, Ali wrote a book series, a best seller on Amazon. He is trying to start Resolve LA clubs at three high schools. He is thinking of making a parent company, with different Resolve branches to address problems around the state and nation: Resolve Sacramento, Resolve Detroit, Resolve SF. He loves Resolve LA, his big money maker, and wants it to continue. He’s only 18!
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