Students Rising Above Origin Story: 20 Years of Growth & Student-Centered Support



It all started with the belief in the power of education and the desire to support students who were rising above their circumstances. Featuring stories of Bay Area students, Students Rising Above co-founder Wendy Tokuda began offering small scholarships to help with the cost of college.


When scholarships alone couldn’t close the achievement gap, SRA began advising students. Realizing that financial support was not enough, a handful of volunteers began advising students as they applied to college and successfully transitioned into their first year.


This handful of volunteers officially joined the organization to offer 5 years of committed advising; while the community stepped up, with many individuals volunteering to offer social mentorship to students.


An early class of Rising Stars with co-founder Wendy Tokuda.



Students Rising Above was granted official 501(c)3 nonprofit status. To celebrate we hosted our first annual fundraising Gala.


Financial barriers and other factors of their home environment, meant that SRA Rising Stars often lacked regular and adequate access to healthcare. SRA changed that with support in enrolling for health insurance, navigating medical care, and forming healthy lifestyle habits.


Our career development program, that first started as one volunteer helping students secure a summer internship, has now grown into a robust career development curriculum with career exposure events, professional development, invaluable hands-on, skill-building experiences, and more.


Celebrating Rising Stars graduating from college in 2008.


The need kept growing, SRA responded and the SRA Hub was born. With up to 900 students applying for less than 100 slots, SRA decided to expand its services to support more students. Designed to scale SRA’s 20-years of direct services to reach the maximum number of students, the SRA Hub is the first-of-its kind online portal full of resources, worksheets, and articles.


Celebrating the launch of the Alumni Leadership Committee at our alumni event,  hosted by Autodesk.



The SRA Hub reaches over 10,000 registered users, the Alumni Leadership Committee launches, and the first alumni, Stevon Cook, was appointed to our board.


In Summer 2018 the SOAR Program first launched. A blend of the virtual Hub environment and the 1:1 support from an SRA advisor, SOAR delivers a hybrid program to college students. Students in the SRA SOAR Program are matched with a virtual SRA advisor and placed in a small cohort with peers from across the nation and a peer mentor.


At the 15th Annual Students Rising Above Gala.


2019 and Beyond:

We’re so proud to be in our 20th year of supporting incredible students on their college-to-career journeys, and can’t wait to see where the future takes us.

Ten years ago we supported 31 students through the Rising Stars program. Now in 2019, the number of students we offer this robust emotional, academic, and personalized support to has more than doubled to 75 students.


Meet and celebrate with the Class of 2019 Rising Stars at our 16th Annual Gala on March 21st, 2019 at The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco. Tickets are available now!