The James Irvine Foundation Grant

The James Irvine Foundation Grant Will Help SRA Serve Significantly More Students

By Carolina Martín and Lynne Martin

It’s been a terrific two weeks at Students Rising Above (SRA).

Last week, we held our 14th annual Gala in San Francisco and introduced the Class of 2017 to our supporters. Thanks to the generosity of the more than 600 people who attended, we exceeded our fundraising target for the event.

And just a week earlier, we received one of our most important grants ever – $500,000 from The James Irvine Foundation to help expand our highly successful SRA College2Careers Hub.Grant

Grant Accelerates Our Growth

We’re very appreciative the Irvine Foundation understood how the Hub is redefining the way college and career counseling can be delivered to low-income, first-generation students at California’s high schools and colleges. We’re also honored be part of its major new push, the Postsecondary Success initiative.

Launched three years ago, the Hub today has more than 10,000 active users and is growing quickly. The Hub was the result of our team’s keen insight several years ago that technology and changing student behavior could enable us to assist many more people. The Hub perfectly complements our existing, direct services program, which has graduated nearly 700 students since it was founded 18 years ago.

By The Numbers: The Hub

 Hub users log onto an average of 5.44 times per month, view an average of 4.6

pages per session, and stay logged in for an average of 9.07 minutes.

 90% of SRA Hub users find the service “helpful” or “extremely helpful.”

 The Hub’s three, most-liked features are “student community,” “support from

Advisors,” and “articles and links.”

The Foundation’s grant allows SRA to expand its content and develop formalized curriculum about high school-to-college transition, college persistence, and college completion – the key challenges facing many low-income, first-generation students. The funding will also help SRA develop new partnerships with high schools, Promise Programs and community colleges in California. Additionally, the new funding will enable SRA to improve the usability and look-and- feel of the Hub itself.

By The Numbers: Direct Service Program

 98% of students in SRA’s direct-service program enroll in college.

 90% complete BA/BS degrees within 4.5 years

 85% secure career-ladder jobs within 12 months of college graduation.

A Key Moment For SRA

Given the significance of the Foundation’s grant, it’s an opportune moment to share why the Hub is critical to helping more students get into and through college and find a career-ladder job.

First, the grant will enable SRA to form new partnerships with high schools, community colleges and four-year universities in California. Partnering with schools is a key reason the Hub has grown so quickly. Since the Hub was created in 2014, 45 Bay Area high schools, nonprofits and after-school programs have partnered with us.

These new relationships will leverage the Hub’s existing model. Our school partners can integrate our content into their classroom curriculum. Educators will also be able to offer their students one-to- one advising from one of the Hub’s professionally trained advisors.  SRA team members will also work with counselors and teachers on-site to maximize the effectiveness of the program.

Second, the grant will enable us to expand the markets we serve, both in terms of geography and student population. SRA has primarily focused on Northern California, its home turf for almost two decades. Now we will be able to engage with schools in the Central Valley and Southern California.

For the first time, we also will work with community colleges. To date, we have primarily focused on high schools and four-year colleges. Community college is one of the surest paths to upward social mobility for low-income, first generation students, so it is a natural extension of our mission. We’re looking forward to serving these students.

Third, the Foundation’s imprimatur will help us attract more funding and build on our momentum. The Foundation’s due diligence of the Hub confirms our strategy about the power of combining scalable technology and trained professionals to improve the college completion rate.

The Foundation’s support represents an exciting new chapter for SRA. We look forward to partnering with anyone who is interested in breaking the cycle of poverty.

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