Gumball Foundation


The Gumball Foundation offers an ingenious program that enables middle and high school students to run their own small scale vending machine businesses so that they can save their money to attend a four-year college or university and learn how to become entrepreneurs.

In founding the Gumball Foundation, Ezequiel Olvera drew upon his own experience. As an 11-year old boy, he began to persuade shop proprietors to allow him to install second hand gumball vending machines in their stores. By the time Ezequiel was a senior in high school, he had 60 gum and soda vending machines in shops around East Los Angeles and an acceptance letter to UC Santa Cruz. The revenue from his vending machine business helped to fund his way.

While in college, Ezequiel developed a plan to turn his childhood entrepreneurial business into the Gumball Foundation--which both trains underprivileged students to be entrepreneurs and awards scholarships to deserving students from his community who want to pursue higher education. Attentive to the welfare of the community, the vending machines now feature healthy choices.

The Gumball Foundation selects participating students on the basis of a rigorous application process; after seven years of increasing responsibility and accomplishment, they typically have earned $45,000 (including a federal grant that matches the money raised) to apply toward their college educations. The funds are held in a custodial account.

The Los Angeles Community Reinvestment Committee currently serves as the Gumball Foundation's fiscal sponsor.

Selected Awards
Unsung Hero
California Community Foundation, 2013

Annenberg Audience Award
Social Innovation Fast Pitch, 2011



Ezequiel Olvera
Founder & Chief Executive Officer

Los Angeles

Area served:
Los Angeles

# of employees:

Nonprofit (donations + earned income)