Meet Stephanie. She is one of the most impressive and resilient students I have ever known. She has spent her entire life living in poverty, helping to care for her siblings, working while going to school, and despite the odds, she is not only graduating next week from Palo Alto High School, she has also been accepted into several universities, including San Francisco State, her school of choice. She will also be the first in her family to attend college. Yet sadly, frustratingly, and inequitably, her financial aid package will not provide her with enough aid to cover all of her educational expenses.
When Stephanie came to my office a couple weeks ago to share this news with me, she was in tears. In that moment, I decided I would help her raise the money she needed to attend the college of her choice; to help provide her with the educational experience she deserves and has been working so hard for; and to give her the chance to someday lift herself and her family out of poverty without the added burden of being forced into debt in order to pursue her dreams.
Stephanie is just one of many college-bound students graduating from Palo Alto High School this year who cannot afford to attend the schools they have worked so hard to get into. Her story, and the story of many others like her, inspired me to create Rise Together Education, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating equity in education for underprivileged youth and adults.
While the paperwork for Rise Together Education is pending for 501c(3) status and the website is being built, I am starting here to ask for help to send Stephanie to college, without the burden of debt; to enjoy the same "privilege" that so many of her friends will be able to enjoy; and to provide her with the opportunity to RISE TOGETHER with her peers in the pursuit of higher education and financial stability.
We are asking for $10,000 to cover the gap in financial aid for Stephanie's first year of expenses at San Francisco State, and to take the first steps in building this foundation so that many other students like Stephanie can also experience the educational opportunities they so rightfully deserve in years to come.
There are currently 30+ Palo Alto High School graduates who collectively will have an estimated $300,000 gap in financial aid, just for their first year of college alone, most of whom are first in their families to attend college and many of whom also qualify for reduced/free lunch. So, while we are only asking for $10,000 at this time, specifically for Stephanie and to ensure Rise Together Education gets off the ground, we would be thrilled to exceed our goal and send more students to the colleges they deserve to attend.
Stephanie and I thank you for taking the time to learn about her story.
Please feel free to forward this post, as we are committed to helping as many students as possible and appreciate your support.
Palo Alto High School Teacher and Founder of Rise Together Education