SRA in the News

Happy Friday everyone!

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Students Rising Above was featured today in the Mercury News! Please share the article on your Facebook, Twitter, and with your friends. Check it out:

http://bit.ly/ZyUK78

And don’t forget to register for the GradWalk if you haven’t done so already!

http://www.firstgiving.com/SRA/SRA-3rd-annual-GRADWalk

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Growing Flowers From Concrete: Foster Care to Career

Our Alum, Alfonso Taylor, tells us a little about his journey towards success! Thank you for sharing your story, Alfonso.

Originally posted on the Huffington Post 1/24/2013 – Click Here to See the Original

My name is Alfonso Taylor, and when I was nine-months-old, my father took my mother’s life. He shot her several times right before my older siblings and me.

As a foster child in the aftermath of that tragedy, I was expected to fail. I had a 2 percent chance of graduating college. According to statistics, I should be on the streets, dealing drugs or involved with a gang. Instead, I am a young professional who has turned his life around in the face of poverty and violence. I did this by going to college and getting the job training I needed to succeed. Today, I work at RGB Spectrum as an Inside Sales Representative. I wouldn’t have gotten here without Students Rising Above (SRA).

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The Value of College
Prior to becoming a part of SRA, no one in my family had ever stressed the importance of a college education. School was presented to me as a hobby in life, rather then an essential tool to my future. It was hard to view higher education as critical, when my family members before me never finished high school.

My main challenge with getting into college was that I never believed that I had the knowledge and skills required to succeed in that environment. Because of my background, I had always thought of myself as inferior to others. The idea that I was lesser than other people has always plagued me and limited what I believed I could accomplish. The unparalleled mentorship that I got from SRA instilled in me the confidence to take that first step in applying to college.

SRA’s college counseling and support network was critical when I left home for Ohio Wesleyan University. This was my first experience leaving home for a long period of time. I had moments when I was on the brink of giving up because the intensity of college was unlike anything I had ever experienced. Unlike many of my classmates, I did not have a mother or a father to reach out to in times of need. SRA was there to remind me why I was working so hard. The staff there reminded me of where I came from and that if I wanted to change my future, I had to stay strong and remain focused on rising out of poverty.

Setting Goals
When I started college, my career goals were almost nonexistent. I never took the time to stop and think about a profession I would pursue after school or the classes that would best prepare me for that field. I told my SRA mentors about the growing disconnect between my passions and the career opportunities available post-graduation. They encouraged me to join various campus organizations that allowed me to experience working with diverse people on different topics. I took full advantage of SRA’s career development team and their ability to enhance my professional skills via career readiness workshops, networking opportunities, and much more.

As a direct result of working with SRA’s career development staff, I was able to land a paid summer internship each year that I attended college. The exposure to both corporate and non-profit business environments enabled me to gain invaluable work experience, and prepared me for the fulfilling career I have today.

As soon as I graduated college, I quickly realized that the skills, confidence, and preparation I gained from SRA were only half of the battle. My biggest challenge in the job market was that I had no idea where to begin looking. It was as if someone had given me all the tools necessary to complete a journey, but the destination was still unknown.

The U.S. economy had recently emerged from the recession, but the current unemployment rate was still an astounding 9.0 percent. All of this, coupled with the fact that there were more college graduates seeking full-time employment than ever before, turned my dreams of getting my first full-time career into a hopeless reality.

Landing My First Job
I never cherished SRA more than during this incredibly tough and significant moment in my life. My mentors at SRA reminded me of all that I overcame to be a first-generation college graduate, and that securing my first job was something I could handle.

In addition to its exceptional networking opportunities and fully committed team, SRA delivers something you won’t experience with any other kind of nonprofit. SRA is an organization that gives water to flowers that are trying to grow from concrete. The results are a treasure. SRA enables people like me, who few believed in, to have the resilience to blossom so beautifully and impact the world so immensely. If it were not for SRA’s ability to compassionately see beyond the surface of a person, and to dig deep to awaken and nurture human potential, young adults like me would not have the occupations that we have today.

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Students Rising Above Selected As National Finalist In HuffingtonPost’s Jobs Contest

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Students Rising Above Selected As National Finalist

In HuffingtonPost’s Jobs Contest

Organization Chosen For Its Success In Helping College Graduates Secure Jobs

 

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 15, 2013Students Rising Above, a nonprofit that helps Bay Area high school students rise above poverty through education and job training, today announced it has been named a finalist in the HuffingtonPost’s JobRaising Challenge.

The JobRaising Challenge is a national philanthropic initiative to help job-creating nonprofits raise money and awareness, while helping put Americans back to work.  The JobRaising Challenge is a collaborative effort with the HuffingtonPost, Skoll Foundation, McKinsey & Company and CrowdRise.

Between January 21 and March 1, the JobRaising Challenge nonprofits will have an opportunity to compete for $250,000 in prize money offered by The Skoll Foundation. The money will be awarded based on how much an organization can fundraise through CrowdRise, a crowd-funding platform for nonprofits. 

Seventy-four finalists from across the nation were chosen. Finalists submitted a written entry that demonstrated their success in increasing employment.

“Students Rising Above is honored to have been selected as a finalist in the JobRaising Challenge,” said SRA Executive Director Lynne Martin. “We invite individuals and businesses to join with us to help more students achieve the American dream of graduating from college and getting a job. Your generous support can help SRA with our mission and win the JobRaising Challenge.”

SRA helps low-income, first-generation students complete college, enter the workforce and break the cycle of poverty. SRA identifies promising students in the Bay Area, helps them afford a four-year degree, provides emotional support and guidance through college, and works with employers to provide job training and mentoring to recent graduates. Over the past 14 years, SRA has enabled more than 300 students whose families live below the federal poverty level to graduate from a four-year college. In 2012, 235 students were enrolled in the program.

The recognition is the second the organization has received in the past three months. In November, the San Francisco chapter of Association for Corporate Growth, a professional organization of corporate development and M&A executives, named SRA the San Francisco Nonprofit Organization of the Year. The honor qualifies SRA for a national award, which will be announced March 13 at a ceremony in Washington D.C.

 

About Students Rising Above

Students Rising Above is an award-winning nonprofit organization that enables low-income, first-generation college students to attend a four-year college and achieve their educational aspirations.  Ninety percent of students enrolled in Students Rising Above graduate from college – nearly three times the national average. Students Rising Above serves students in the 11-county Bay Area and provides personal guidance and financial support from college application, through graduation and into the workforce.  A 501(c)3, Students Rising Above is funded by individual donations, and grants and contributions from corporations, foundations, and other nonprofit organizations. For more information or to apply to the program, visit www.studentsrisingabove.org

 

 

Media Contact

Greg Berardi, Blue Marlin Partners

415.239.7826, greg@bluemarlinpartners.com

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A Journey Together, Part I | How A Mother & Daughter Became SRA Mentors

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My mom is truly one of the kindest people I know. From substitute teaching and buying children backpacks, shoes and school supplies on her lunch breaks to supporting incredible causes such as SRA through crazy auction purchases and donations, she has an insatiable hunger for giving back.

As her daughter, my only hope is that I might be able to be half of the kind hearted, selfless person that she is.  Through her actions and life choices, my mom has instilled in me the desire and passion to help others. No matter what the mode of delivery may be, whether time, resources, life experience or even just a smile; to give to others truly feeds my soul.

My mom had learned of SRA through a family friend who became a mentor last year and my mom decided to apply and was accepted as a mentor for the 2012 class. This Summer I was introduced to SRA while attending the cowboy themed family hoedown that my mom had purchased at last years SRA Gala. Following a spectacular day of fun and after getting to meet and speak with Kirsten, Jennifer and Barb, I was encouraged to apply to become a mentor.  Our hoedown was held on Saturday and I applied on Sunday. A short time later I was accepted as a mentor!  I was incredibly honored to be welcomed into the SRA family and it made it even more special to know that my mom and I were about to embark on this journey together.

We went through orientation together, met our students together and wove our way through the city with our group as we got to know our students on the scavenger hunt. We’ve done some activities together, but we’ve also recognized the individual needs of our students. While our students are two outstanding girls their academic, social and personal needs vary greatly. My mom and I have both worked hard to tailor our activities and one on one time with our students to their unique needs. From culturally stimulating outings to academically focused experiences and even simple activities focused on relaxation, we’ve each been able to spend invaluable quality time with our students. This approach has provided each of us with a strong rapport and solid foundation form which we’ve each cultivated a wonderful relationship with our student.

To walk this journey with my mom has been incredible. With twenty-six years between us our personal perspectives and contributions to SRA and our students are different but in many ways they are also similar. For both of us however, we strive to nurture, love, support and guide our students in the coming years with as much compassion and kindness possible.

While it has only been a few months since our students came into our lives, my life has already been enriched beyond anything I could have imagined. I know our formal commitment to our students is to support them through college but I have a feeling these relationships will blossom over the years to become friendships of a lifetime. The fact that my mom and I are in this together is truly the icing on an already exquisite cake!

-Anonymous

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ACG names SRA Non-Profit of the Year

Students Rising Above Named Nonprofit Organization Of The Year

Association For Corporate Growth Recognizes SRA’s Outstanding Work In Helping Bay Area High School Students Attend College

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 10, 2012 – The San Francisco chapter of Association for Corporate Growth, a professional organization of corporate development and M&A executives, has named Students Rising Above (SRA) of San Francisco the Nonprofit Organization of the Year.

The annual award recognizes organizations that have exhibited strong leadership, growth, strategic clarity, social responsibility, and success. Winners must demonstrate an effective delivery system and infrastructure, a dynamic leader and management team, and an active and involved board of directors.

“Students Rising Above does an outstanding job of providing at-risk youth in the Bay Area with opportunities to earn a college education and achieve the American dream,” said David Christy of the Association for Corporate Growth.  “Students Rising Above is investing in committed students and helping them become role models in their communities.”

The award from the San Francisco chapter automatically enters SRA into a national competition hosted by the Association of Corporate Growth. The national award winners will be announced March 13 at a ceremony in Washington D.C.

“Students Rising Above is honored to have been selected as the Nonprofit Organization of the Year,” said Executive Director Lynne Martin.  “Our success is not only the product of dedicated employees, sponsors and board of directors, but also our wonderful students.  We draw our inspiration from the determination and hard work of our amazing students.”

SRA supports low-income, first generation college students who have a commitment to education and the strength of character to overcome poverty, homelessness, and other challenges. Over the past 14 years, SRA has enabled more than 305 students whose families live below the federal poverty level to graduate from a four-year college. SRA offers one-on-one personal guidance and financial assistance. In 2012, 235 students were enrolled in the program.

About the Association for Corporate Growth

Founded in 1954, the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) is a premier global association for professionals involved in corporate growth, corporate development, and mergers and acquisitions to mid- to large companies. ACG members have focused on strategic activities that increase revenues, profits and, ultimately, shareholder value. ACG has more than 12,000 members, representing Fortune 500, Fortune 1000, FTSE 100, and mid-market companies in 53 chapters in North America, Europe and soon Asia.

About Students Rising Above

Students Rising Above is an award-winning nonprofit organization that enables low-income, first-generation college students to attend a four-year college and achieve their educational aspirations.  Ninety percent of students enrolled in Students Rising Above graduate from college – nearly three times the national average. Students Rising Above serves students in the 11-county Bay Area and provides personal guidance and financial support from college application, through graduation and into the workforce.  A 501(c)3, Students Rising Above is funded by individual donations, and grants and contributions from corporations, foundations, and other nonprofit organizations. For more information or to apply to the program, visit www.studentsrisingabove.org.

 

Media Contact

Greg Berardi, Blue Marlin Partners

415.239.7826, greg@bluemarlinpartners.com

 

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Abbas gets real…about what he misses about college!

We caught up with Abbas Mohammad, SRA Class of 2006, on what he misses most about college. 

Abbas, pictured on the left, with Executive Director Lynne Martin, and Thuy Nguyen, Class of 2006

When I was in college, there were times when I thought to myself, “I can’t wait to graduate and get into the real world”. Of course it was understandable because such thoughts were motivated by the fact that you may have had a roommate that you could not stand, or the professor that made you pull your hair out of your skull, or simply having to eat roman noodles every other meal.  And here I am writing about how much I miss those days. Perhaps not the irritating roommates, or the unreasonable professor, or the unstable diet part but rather the parts that helped me grow not only intellectually and professionally but also socially.  Although there are lots I miss about college, these are the most important ones.

1. Freedom:

The complete and utter untrammeled life you live in college is truly unmatched to any point in your life. Before college our lives are very much controlled by our parents and the limitations of what you can do as kid or a teenager. Whether you like it or not you have to go attend to go to school everyday, eat your vegetables, brush your teeth, don’t be out too late, and the list goes on and on. However once you enter college it all changes. Whether it is choosing a career path, who to hang out with, and how late to stay out, or what to eat and when to eat, you have a complete freedom over the choices you make. No one is making you do anything that you do not agree with.  But once you graduate everything takes one hundred and eighty degree turn once again.  I came to this realization after graduation when I was suddenly hit with a less then dismal job market and having bills to pay. Once you do find a job, you can’t just take a day off because don’t feel like it. And you certainly can’t show up to work in pajamas and sweats and let alone having the thought of going back to your room and sleeping again. So enjoy it while it lasts.

2. Academic Environment:

I remember having intensive debates on subjects from religion and politics to sports and everything in between. One of the most intense arguments I ever had with a roommate was on what sport was better, soccer or rugby. The argument went for several hours without having reached any conclusive agreement.  Having a stimulating conversation seemed much easier back then, regardless of the subject. Perhaps it was because everyone around me was just as eager to learn and passionate about a given subject. You could always find someone who had the same, and sometimes even greater, level of intellectual curiosity given a particular subject matter. And not to mention having access to the people who have PhDs on the subjects you are interested. Yes, I am talking about the professors. If you are even remotely interested in a subject, you have access to someone who knows everything there is to know about it. The fours years of college is one of the only periods in your life where you have the option to explore your interests and curiosities and learn from experts and other people who are just as passionate as you are.

3. Social Life:

Social life after college is never the same. After a full day of work and a long commute you get pretty tired by the time you get home. You change from your work clothes into something more comfortable at which point even making dinner seems to be a challenge, let alone going out with friends and being sociable. I am not sure about others, but once I change into my pajamas that is when the day ends. This didn’t seem to be a problem in college. In order to socialize, all you needed to do was to get out of your room and the possibilities for a social gathering was endless. Usually there was a party in your living room, and if not, you start an impromptu gathering on the spot. All it takes is a few phone calls or walking down the hallway. And yes no one would care if you were in pajamas. And not to mention how easy it is to start a conversation. Just ask one of the following questions. What is your major? What classes are you taking? Who are you taking it with? That was a guaranteed few hours of either sharing your fascination with a particular subject or simply bashing on a particular professor that you didn’t like.

4. Sports:

Playing sports is perhaps one of the most difficult things once you get out college, especially if you are into team sports like soccer, basketball, or football. One of my most memorable moments from college is playing soccer at any time regardless of the time or weather. All it took was to grab a ball and show up in the quad area and slowly you have a complete team. Throughout the four years of my college years, I played intramural soccer every semester. Even if I had a midterm the next day I wouldn’t dare miss the game. Although with some research and commitment you could recreate this outside of college, but the accessibility that you have in college is just incomparable.

 5. Vacation:

Out of everything I miss about college, this is probably at the top. This only becomes noticeable once you graduate and get a job. There is no job that you can get after college that will give you, summer break, spring break, winter break, and any other breaks for that matter. Aside from small trips that I made during my college years within the United States, I studied abroad for a semester at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. I had class two days a week. And yes that means I had a five-day weekend every week. In so many ways the days I didn’t go to class, I learned just as much if not more.  I traveled to fifteen different European countries over the course six months. And what I learned from those trips can never be learned in any class. Most importantly, at no point in my life I can think of a time where I would be able travel to that many countries all at once, unless of course I win a lottery and take an early retirement.

 

Now you are probably thinking what is the point of telling all these things that you already know. The point I am trying make here is that there are so many things we take for granted while in college. So take advantage of all the time and resources you have at your disposal. Make the best of everything so you wont have any regrets once you graduate. If you are thinking of taking that class that sounds interesting, take it. If you are thinking of going to study abroad, do it. Do it now.

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Summer Learnin’ Happened So Fast!

Char-Leen Craner spent part of her summer as an Assistant Instructor for Inventors Inc. and Lego Robotics with Galileo Summer Quest. Check out what she learned along the way!

I was an Assistant Instructor this summer with Galileo Learning. I worked at Galileo Summer Quest – a fun and innovative day camp for rising 5-8th graders – and had an amazing time! I heard about Galileo Learning through SRA last summer but was unable to participate due to other commitments. The interview process is pretty rigorous; you fill out an online application comprised of several essay questions, followed by a phone interview and then an interview at the home office. The overall culture and experience was well worth the lengthy interview process though. Specifically, as an Assistant Instructor, my job was to support the lead instructor in managing classroom organization and with facilitating curriculum. This internship taught me a lot about teaching and working with younger kids who come from different backgrounds and demographics from me. Before this job, I wanted to work with kids and was considering being a teacher. However, I have learned that being a teacher is a lot more than what I see as a student in the classroom. There’s the preparation, grading, cleaning and a whole lot more that goes into it. I have decided that I probably do not want to be working with kids in a teaching environment, which is a really good thing because I’m still doing some career searching. The only downside to my experience was the hiring process. Galileo is a 6-week camp, and if you aren’t one of the first people hired – that is if your hired after April – most likely you wont be able to work the entire 6 weeks. For instance, I was only offered three weeks, with the possibility of working more depending on camper enrollment. This was difficult for me because this left me in a position where I didn’t know what was happening with my expenses. It could be a tough decision for someone weighing other opportunities, especially if you do not know whether you’ll be working or not. On the flip side, the best thing about this internship, besides my own career epiphany, was working with my colleagues! They were extremely fun to be around, which made for a great environment for me to be working in. I am very happy to have worked with Galileo and may even consider returning for more fun next summer!

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