By Crystal Harrell
Gracing television screens and capturing the hearts of many, Bianca Rae is a public figure known in the Coachella Valley as a prominent broadcast journalist and her impressive works of philanthropy. Her nonprofit, the Bianca Rae Foundation, was created at the end of 2013, and officially became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in the summer of 2014.
Currently in its eighth year, the Bianca Rae Foundation will hold its annual Rae of Hope retreat in collaboration with Desert Sands Unified Expanded Learning Opportunity Program. The retreat will take place on Oct. 1 at the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa in Indian Wells.
Bianca Rae Foundation’s Annual Rae of Hope retreat is for middle school children in the Coachella Valley. Over the past seven years, more than 2,500 children have been positively impacted by attending the Rae of Hope retreat. Children learn about anti-bullying, leadership, elevating their self-esteem, social media safety, and much more.
Rae moved to Palm Springs straight out of college when she was 22. Shortly after, she started volunteering at an animal shelter and met her rescue dog Jack, which ultimately catapulted her into the world of philanthropy.
“I realized very early on that given my career as a public figure, I had a platform and I felt compelled to use that in a meaningful way. Ever since I was a little girl I’ve always wanted to impact change, whether that was stepping up in the classroom or running for class president. Then, as a journalist, I realized I had a voice, and I wanted to be a voice for the voiceless—which I believe are children and animals,” stated Rae.
Nearly 3,000 children have attended the Rae of Hope retreat since it first started, in large part to one of the biggest supporters and sponsors, G&M Oil Company. During the pandemic, when large in-person events could not be organized, the Bianca Rae Foundation started offering virtual mentorship classes for teens.
“Those classes were supposed to just be temporary amid the pandemic, but we had such positive feedback and demand that we now offer these mentorship classes every month. Topics range from managing back-to-school anxiety to how to interview for a job to how to apply for college scholarships. I’m so proud that we now offer resources to young people year-round,” revealed Rae.
In addition to the work with underprivileged middle school children, the Bianca Rae Foundation also holds annual adoption events at the Gardens on El Paseo, bringing together all the local animal shelters and rescues to get as many dogs as possible into loving homes.
Bianca Rae is currently the evening news anchor for Spectrum News Los Angeles. She covers everything from community news to national breaking news to red carpets. This is a dream-come-true for Rae, who has gotten to interview everyone from Congressmen to celebrities— and has gotten to work on television in her dream market of Los Angeles. Although she no longer lives in the Coachella Valley, Rae still considers it to be a paradise that she frequently visits to connect with family and friends.
“The transition from the desert to LA was so smooth and we have such a solid system down that it seems like the universe always knew this would happen: me starting my career and nonprofit in the Palm Springs area, and subsequently growing my career to the Los Angeles area. We have an amazing board and core group of volunteers that helps keep the foundation moving,” said Rae.
Rae’s parents also recently retired to the Coachella Valley, so they have become very involved with volunteering. Bianca is usually in the desert twice a month, not only taking care of foundation work that requires her presence, but also visiting family and friends.
For the 8th Annual Rae of Hope retreat, there will be 400 middle school children in attendance from most every desert city attending this one-day conference. At the retreat, kids rotate through breakout groups learning about self-esteem building, anti-bullying, overcoming life obstacles, and other crucial life skills. Each breakout group is led by a person of influence that young people intrinsically look up to, whether that is a college athlete, an older high school role model, or local celebrities. The testimonials and success stories of the way past retreats have impacted children are very powerful. There are also some fun surprises sprinkled in throughout the day as well, from each child receiving gifts such as soccer balls to a big ice cream social at the end of the day.
“I absolutely love children, so getting to know and create relationships with my ‘Rae of Hope girls,’ as I call them, has been the biggest blessing. So many kids connect with me on social media after attending a retreat while in middle school, and feel so inspired by what they learned that they not only want to share that with me but also get involved in the foundation. Once in high school, so many former attendees come back to volunteer at the retreats. We have many teenage girls/young woman playing crucial roles in the foundation, from helping with social media to helping orchestrate our monthly virtual mentorship classes,” explained Rae.
At the very first Rae of Hope retreat, Rae recalls many kids asking if they were having a retreat again the following year. She stood on the stage and promised them the Bianca Rae Foundation will have a retreat every single year. Rae’s hope and goal is for the Bianca Rae Foundation to be able to provide this opportunity to children for as long as possible.
“The desert is such a special place to me. Not only did I start my career there, and not only does the Bianca Rae Foundation serve the wonderful people of the Coachella Valley, but now my parents live there. The desert will always have my heart, and I’m so grateful for everyone there who still not only supports me personally but the Bianca Rae Foundation as well,” stated Rae.
For more information about all of the programs, visit BiancaRaeFoundation.org and follow the foundation on @BiancaRaeFoundation on social media.