By Kathy Wilson, Students Rising Above Donor and Guest SRA Blog Author
Our mission here at Students Rising Above is to ensure access to equitable opportunities, allowing our students to reach their full potential regardless of their socioeconomic background and become change agents in their community. We do this by investing in first-generation college students from low-income communities who have demonstrated a deep commitment to education and a strong desire to make positive change.
Consider this shocking statistic on income inequality: The eight richest men on earth control as much wealth as half of the global population, or the poorest 3.6 billion people. “Education is arguably the single most critical tool poorer segments of the population can use to ascend to the middle class and stay there.”
Now in its 20th year, Students Rising Above is continuing to take action to break social and economic cycles of poverty by providing a new generation of a diverse workforce by empowering youth in under-resourced communities and schools to access and excel in social, academic, and economic opportunities.
Building a Diverse Workforce
The power of a workforce that is both educated and diverse cannot be underestimated. Students who excel know how to learn new things, persevere through adversity, and adapt to an ever-changing world. Students with diverse backgrounds bring invaluable perspectives and fresh ideas to the workplace. They also lift up their families as they earn, grow, and provide role models for others.
Take a close look at the most innovative and diverse enterprises, and you’ll see how often their success is fueled by these principles.
There’s a lot at stake here:
– The well-being and engagement of our citizens
– The health of our economy and workforce
– The dangers of widening economic inequality and social polarization
– Our declining national competitiveness
Because the power of education and diversity is one of SRA’s core beliefs, we have organized our efforts around a student-first, career-driven approach. We identify those very special students who are already rising above their circumstances and help them realize their full potential by guiding and supporting them through college graduation and into the workplace.
– SRA students are graduating from college at significantly higher rates than other first-generation students, entering the workforce within 10 months of graduation.
– They are doing so with little to no student loan debt.
– They are breaking the social and economic cycles within their own families.
– They are serving their communities as they provide a new generation of employees, leaders, and volunteers from diverse backgrounds.
Comprehensive Career Development
Through our six-year career development curriculum, students are prepared to successfully transition into the workforce with a robust set of experiences and professional skills. Students attend targeted workshops, work with resume editors, and receive personalized career coaching.
Additionally, more than 250 SRA students each year participate in our robust internship program. Over 150 corporate partners from a variety of industries provide our students with invaluable internships and real-world experience — bringing new talent and diversity to the workplace.
Reaching Tens to Thousands More First-Generation Students
In addition to the 750+ students we have served in our flagship program, our online college and career advising platform, the SRA Hub, offers a first-of-its-kind online resource designed to share that experience with students and educators nationwide.
Offering 24/7 access to 14,000+ users, the SRA Hub provides students comprehensive, up-to-date information, personal advisors to facilitate college and career opportunities, and a supportive online community of motivated peers.
Together, with our dedicated supporters and community, SRA is working to scale and expand the Hub to positively impact the college and career track for even greater numbers of low-to-moderate income students. We have seen the power in blending personal interaction with technology, and are further developing the Hub and its resources to address particular challenges in helping students reach their academic and career goals.
Thank you to our supporters, corporate partners, students, alumni, advisors, and staff — all of whom contribute to our students’ success. Together, we will continue the journey, making opportunities for social and economic mobility possible.