SOARing into 2020!

What is SOAR? Students Online Achieving Results (SOAR) is a program of Students Rising Above. Read about the history of SOAR below and the impact SOAR is making on students across the country! Students Rising Above is SOARing into 2020 with great success!

Rising Stars:  Students Rising Above began with the Rising Stars Program. Nationwide only 11% of low-income youth graduate from college. The Rising Stars Program recognizes students with potential and understands the obstacles they must overcome. Investing in first-generation students in the nine county San Francisco Bay Area, Students Rising Above (SRA) provides a unique level of support that’s comprehensive, student-centric, and highly personal. We embrace students with character and drive, and back them with professional expertise and passion providing pre-college readiness, college commitment and guidance, healthcare, financial support and literacy, and comprehensive career development. . Through the Rising Stars Program 91% of our SRA low-income and first-generation youth graduate from college and 78%are in career-ladder roles or graduate school within 12 months of college graduation. Together we create a community of Rising Stars that are changing the future through college and careers.


The Hub:  Students Rising Above has become a model for helping first-generation students from low-income communities overcome the odds to securing careers. SRA expanded its reach beyond the Rising Stars Program and to provide our well-developed resources to students all over the country, so SRA created the Hub. The SRA Hub is a first-of-its-kind online resource designed to share that experience with students and educators nationwide. Offering 24/7 access, 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.


What is SOAR? Students Online Achieving Results:  Using the success of SRA’s Rising Stars program as a model, Students Online Achieving Results (SOAR) combines the scalability of the SRA Hub technology with the personal interaction that makes a powerful difference in keeping students engaged and on track. The SOAR program engages current four-year and community college students to increase college persistence rates, graduation rates, and the obtainment of career-ladder jobs. Students in the SRA SOAR program are matched with a virtual SRA advisor and placed in a small cohort. Throughout their participation in SOAR, students participate in one virtual hangout per month, which guide students through financial aid, resume creation, career exploration, professional etiquette, imposter syndrome, the summer internship search, interviewing, stress management, self-care, and more.

SRA builds all our own lesson plans and curriculum in-house. Now that we are SOARing into January 2020 we have completely built-out a 4-year SOAR curriculum! That’s 50+ different SOAR lesson plans on college and career success created by SRA Career Development Team and Advising Team. Each lesson plan strategically builds on one another and caters to the student’s year in college.  

SOAR cohorts meet once a month as a group over the online platform Zoom and participants also have meaningful one-on-one meetings with their Advisors and peers. SRA College & Career Advisor Tei recently had multiple one-on-one’s with SOAR scholars in community college to work on their transfer applications and UC PIQs. She also worked one-on-one with a SOAR Peer Mentor to help her create a study abroad budget. After the meeting, she felt more confident about managing her money abroad as well as putting aside enough money for her to support herself when she comes back. In one of SRA College & Career Advisor Rose’s round of hangouts, she paired students up in Zoom breakout rooms to work collaboratively on resume accomplishment statements. It was a hit!  

Not only do SOAR scholars have access to their virtual SRA Advisor, students in the program will also collaborate with a Peer Mentor, creating an even stronger sense of community and engagement among SOAR scholars. This network of student peers creates connections among students, ensures they have access to resources, and provides social and emotional support, all especially critical for first-generation college students. First-generation students may not have a pre-existing support system to provide encouragement, problem-solving, and college insights, so creating this cohort of students working together is a critical part of the program.

As with SRA’s Rising Stars program, career development is a critical component of the SOAR curriculum. Students gain knowledge of everything from how to use Linkedin to workplace culture to networking. SOAR scholars also have the opportunity to receive one-on-one interview preparation, attend SRA’s in-person Career Development Workshops, and participate in Career Insight Days at various Bay Area companies such as Google, Autodesk, and Tesla. Through the comprehensive career development offered, the SOAR program prepares students to graduate from college and enter the workforce as prepared, confident, diverse leaders.


We are celebrating our SOAR Student of 2020, Vera!

Vera is one of our superstar SOAR scholars who has taken advantage of many of our college and career resources. After not being selected for the Rising Stars Program, Vera did not give up. She heard about the SOAR program through a mass SRA email sent to our Hubsters (SRA Hub Users) and applied. She has been part of the SOAR program since SRA’s very first pilot in Summer 2018. 

In Summer 2018, she impressed SRA staff by actively participating and attending multiple Career Insight Days. In Summer 2019, she joined both of SRA’s newest summer programs: CODEversity and Summer Leadership Program. In June 2019, she said, “SOAR has eternally impacted my life in many positive ways! I want to thank you everyone who made this program’s launch possible. I look forward to always staying connected to you all and sharing my college journey along the way. I am forever grateful to be a part of SOAR and the SRA hub as a whole.” She’s now in her third cycle of the SOAR program!



Here is what Vera has to say about her time at the 2019 SRA Summer Leadership Program:

“During the summer of 2019, I participated in Student Rising Above’s Summer Leadership Program to work with a team of 5 college students on developing an individual passion project. Under the mentorship of 6 Google employees and a UC Santa Barbara undergraduate, I fell in love with San Francisco’s Google Community Space for its promise of innovation and leadership. After months of trial and error in brainstorming ideas, I put my amateur knowledge of computer skills to the test.

I devoted countless hours afterschool in coding and designing my own website to further refine my vision of Mental Health Matters, a student-led organization I created in efforts to help students and the community navigate mental health resources. On an online platform, I listed national and local mental health resources accessible to everyone countrywide. 

I launched my long-awaited passion project at Berkeley City College. My motivation stemmed from witnessing close family members struggle with mental illness who were unable to access resources in fear of judgement. I took every opportunity to table and post educational flyers around campus and the city of Berkeley to promote Mental Health Matters. 

As membership has increased to 22 members, I continue to find new ways to reach out to my community and facilitate open discussions regarding mental health. Hosting various UC/CSU application workshops in the student lounge, I have mentored many community college students answering their questions and concerns regarding transfer requirements and guiding them through the process of applying to college. Connecting with a diverse group of individuals at a meaningful level, I found my love for fostering community intervention.

As I continue to work closely with the Berkeley City College Wellness Center in providing students personalized mental health resources and a safe environment to discuss their issues, I realize the stigma surrounding mental illness in many countries prevents individuals from seeking help. In my continued efforts to implement community awareness and advocacy through Mental Health Matters, I hope to further support individuals and contribute in destigmatizing mental illness.”


SOAR and the All Ways Up Foundation

In October 2019, SRA launched a SOAR program for 60 college freshmen for our partner, the All Ways Up Foundation. These freshmen will meet three times over the course of the 2019-2020 school year to discuss stress management, study tips, class selection, resumes, and summer internships. We’ll be increasing the number of All Ways Up students we’ll serve this school year from 66 to 135 students through a second SOAR program for their college juniors and seniors focused on career development. 

This is the impact we made in just ONE hangout in October around stress management and study tips:

– 71% vs 39% rated their confidence in stress management a 7-10 out of 10 after SOAR vs before SOAR 

-33% decrease in the number of students who rated their stress management a 6 or lower after SOAR 

-78% vs 44% rated their study skills a 7-10 out of 10 after SOAR vs before SOAR 

-35% decrease in the # of students who rated their study skills a 6 or lower after SOAR 



SOAR and College Match

In Fall 2019, SRA launched a SOAR program for our partner, College Match. Below are our SOAR and College Match impact and results.

SOAR Results – College Match Fall 2019