312 - total number of low-income students SMART has supported during my 12 years with the organization.
100% have earned a high school degree.
97% of these students who graduated high school enrolled in college.
289 students will be served in 2015-2016 compared to 43 students served in 2003-2004 (when I started). We increased student numbers by 670%, while only increasing the budget by 300%.
To me, however, the success of SMART is so much more than just numbers. It's about that student I haven't seen in 10 years, emailing me today to let me know that because of an incredible mentor she had through SMART, she is now applying to be a volunteer herself. It's about that student who was stressed about college applications just a few months ago, feeling confident today about where she is in the process thanks to our amazing staff. It's about the families who proudly watch their children do something they could have never imagined for themselves - walking across a stage in a cap and gown.
I have been thanked by our students and families countless of times, but it is me who should be thanking them.
I am grateful that SMART provided me a safe place to grow professionally, and I hope we continue to provide the same opportunities for our incredible and dedicated staff. I am thankful for the hundreds of volunteers who donate their time for our students and stay engaged through career changes, moves, and growth of their families. Most of all, I owe my students and their families eternal gratitude for allowing us to be a part of their lives and witness their inspiring successes.
This year, we became the most recent victim of the high cost of rent in San Francisco. Our current landlord will be tripling our rent next year as we negotiate renewal of our beautiful centrally located space. We are busy touring various spaces and exploring all possible options - but have come to the conclusion that we will need to raise at least $500,000 in additional funding to sustain our organization.
As I focus on a capital campaign to secure our future, please consider a gift of any amount to help ensure our academic, social and emotional supports remain as strong as ever during this year of uncertainty and change.
As a way of inspiration, I would like to introduce you to Emerson Herrera, SMART Class of 2015 and currently a freshman at Carleton College.
Two years ago, Emerson stood on the same stage with Condeleeza Rice, Thurgood Marshall Jr. and Jason Collins and shared his inspirational life story to an audience celebrating civil rights leaders.
Here's an exceprt from his speech:
"My parents left Guatemala in 1999 to seek a better future for our family in the United States. My mother never went to school, and my father barely finished 1st grade due to family responsibilities. Despite their lack of education, my parents still valued education for their children. But as determined and passionate as they were, my parents could not speak, read or write in English and their own lack of experience as students prevented me from having the resources to fully understand the meaning of graduating high school and attending college.
The right to a good education should be a given in this great country, but so often the marginalized populations are left behind. As an immigrant, first-generation college student from a low-income family, my life could easily have been drastically different. But because of programs like SMART and the undying determination and sacrifices my parents made for me, I stand before you today - a proud, college-bound student."
Emerson's journey is unique - and yet, familiar in the context of SMART. 98% of our current students are first-generation college students. A family of four makes $35,000 a year - in San Francisco. Emerson doesn't let the obstacles he faced define his future potential. As he prepares to brave his first midwest winter, he is also working exceptionally hard - not once taking his college education for granted.
Because all of our administrative costs are covered by our generous board of directors, 100% of your gift will directly impact our students who all aspire to be a college bound student like Emerson. In addition, every dollar you donate will yield $6.50 worth of additional support, thanks to the generosity of our volunteers, partner schools and organizations who provide valuable resources and scholarships for our students.
Please see below how your gift can impact our students.
Thanks for your consideration, your belief in me, and most of all to our students. Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday season!
- $25 provides school supplies for the year.
- $50 provides a healthy snack for a hungry middle school Scholar in our summer and after-school programs.
- $75 covers a college application fee for a high school Senior.
- $100 provides a high school student with access to professional tutoring services.
- $250 provides a rising 5th or 6th grade Scholar with an academic 6-week summer program to support their transition into middle school.
- $500 provides a middle school Scholar with safe transportation from school to SMART twice a week for a year.
- $750 provides a high school Scholar with an all-expense paid trip to visit northern and southern California colleges.
- $2,500 provides a Scholar with customized placement support into middle school or high school, including individualized counseling, test prep, application fees, school tours, translation services and more.
- $5,000 provides a Scholar with all program components for a full year including after-school programming, specialized curriculum, individualized academic support, a family education series and more.
- $500,000 will ensure SMART has a home next school year! (I'm kidding, but not really) :)
- INVALUABLE: Donate your time! Volunteer as a tutor, mentor, or participate in short-term volunteer opportunities. Visit www.thesmartprogram.org/volunteer to learn more.