Rise Together Education
$14,300 of $20,000 goal
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
I am ecstatic announce that Stephanie Estrada completed her first semester at San Francisco State with a 4.0!
In addition, our website for Rise Together Education is now live, so future updates will be posted here: www.risetogethered.org
I want to thank each and every one of you for all you have done to change Stephanie's life forever. She is grateful beyond words.
I hope we all continue to create positive change in peoples' lives and share in the joy of investing in such deserving youth.
Laura M. Bricca
Stephanie and I are very excited to send you all an update on how her college experience is going so far.
By some miracle, Stephanie was provided with on-campus housing at the very last minute, which has been a fabulous experience for her. She moved into her dorm in August and is getting the full experience of college life, making friends and studying hard. She is adjusting well, and I continue to support and mentor her, though she is quite independent and is doing great on her own!
When I asked her what she wanted you all to know about how she's doing and feeling, this is what she said:
"I just don't know how to thank everyone enough! I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for their support. I'm giving it my all! I'm happy!! I feel so blessed to have a place to live and study, and I wouldn't have any of that without their help. I feel like I'm worth something. Having everyone's help and support makes me feel so full of love. I feel more grounded. I feel like I actually belong. When I wake up and go to class, I always tell myself to give it my all because everyone who donated believes in me, and now I believe in myself. I'm enjoying my classes and I've made a lot of friends! I'm actually getting all A's at the moment and am very excited to see what else is going to happen next!"
These words brought tears to my eyes and energy to my heart. What an amazing confirmation that all of our collective efforts have indeed created a significant and life-changing impact for such a deserving student and human being, as I hoped this effort would. Thank you all again so much for your generosity and faith!
I am also pleased to announce that Rise Together Education continues to move forward with our efforts and desire to provide mentoring and scholarships to underprivileged college students. I am excited to continue this important work and hope that we will be able to serve every deserving student who needs our help.
Our website will be coming soon with more updates and information, so stay tuned!
Laura Marcus-Bricca, Founder of Rise Together Education
Within 48 hours every single item that was listed on the last update about some additional needs for Stephanie have been generously provided! Stephanie and I are so grateful for everyone's generosity and empathy.
In addition, we have been able to donate some items to Alan Ugarte, another First Gen student and one of our 33 Palo Alto High School graduates this year who is lacking the financial aid he needs to attend the college of his choice, despite receiving multiple grants and scholarships. I have also assisted him with his own GoFundMe page, and he is one of the many students who Rise Together Education is working to continue to raise money for, this year and for future years to come.
Here's is the link to his page to learn more about him. Your support in helping to continue to get the word out and help him meet his goal would be greatly appreciated.
Alan Ugarte's College Fundraiser
Thank you all so much!
Founder of Rise Together Education
I've been talking with Stephanie and there are some pretty basic items that would benefit her greatly to acquire, and which will likely be more cost effective to request in the form of a direct donation rather than to purchase new at retail value. I am guessing many of you may also have access to these items, so I'm putting this list out there to see if we can meet these additional needs via donation of goods, in order to continue to utilize monetary donations for covering Stephanie's education, start-up expenses for the Rise Together Education NPO, and to benefit other students in need of aid.
If you are able to donate any of these items, please feel free to send me a message at email@example.com
1. Air mattress and bedding
2. Laptop and charger (for use at college in the fall). A Mac with Microsoft Office would be ideal, as this is what she has become most familiar with using at Paly. She would also utilize the music functions, as she is a very talented singer, but any type of laptop will suffice. She will have access to printers at SF State, but if a printer is available, it would obviously be more convenient for her to have her own. A USB drive would be helpful too.
3. A new Metro PCS cell phone. Her current phone is not working properly; it's on the fritz and likely won't last much longer. We need to keep her connected to her support network!
My family and I are helping to provide her with the more basic necessities and personal items she needs, but if you'd like to help in this regard, please feel free to contact me in a private message.
Lastly, Stephanie is seeking babysitting jobs this summer to keep food on the table and to pay for her cell phone bill, so if you have any babysitting needs, please send me a message and I will get you in touch with Stephanie directly. She has helped to raise her younger siblings, and if I had children of my own, I would trust her with them completely. She is planning to major in Psychology at SF State and wants to become a therapist (or maybe now a special ed teacher). As you can imagine, she is very kind, compassionate, empathetic, and competent.
The photo I've included with this update is of Stephanie singing a solo performance of the song "Flashlight" at her graduation ceremony last Wednesday. She dedicated the song to all her teachers, and those who have helped her along the way. There was hardly a dry eye in the crowd. We are hoping to put together a benefit concert next summer for Rise Together Education, which Stephanie is already excited to be a part of, along with other talented musicians.
Stephanie's potential abounds and I am totally committed to helping her reach her full potential, in every sense of the word, along with committing myself to serving other deserving students in need of this level of support.
Thank you for your time, empathy, and care.
With enormous gratitude,
Laura Marcus- Bricca
Hi, if you know anyone in SF, they can go on NEXTDOOR SAN FRANCISCO and post this housing situation - there are all kinds of requests for housing on the Nextdoor here in Menlo Park, and you can also explain the situation in the post. The only thing is that you need someone who lives in SF to use that particular Nextdoor. The other thing I was thinking is that you can go on Nextdoor Palo Alto and appeal for money there - great connections on this site, and you can ask if anyone has connections to wealthy companies who might want to get involved in this. So many Palo Alto parents know wealthy tech people that I think you could make some great connections. I use Nextdoor for everything - buying and selling furniture, getting dog walkers and plumbers, finding activities, and people often post for housing or other kinds of things. Good Luck, you are doing a great thing. I donated and posted the article on FB, wish I could do more. I went to Gunn, and I was one of the lucky ones whose parents could afford to pay for Stanford. I admire these kids so much and I really really want all 33 to get funded!!