Holiday Spirit

Club instructor Sandy Orozco is a former BGCP student, and was chosen 2014 Youth of the Year. An instructor in the nonprofit's intensive literacy program, she supports second and third graders in achieving grade-level reading proficiency. Photo courtesy of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula.

Posted December 30, 2019

Nonprofit Boys & Girls Clubs addresses the opportunity gap

by Elizabeth Harris, grants manager, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula

Jorge has been a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula (BGCP) since kindergarten and is typically shy and hesitant to take the spotlight. Last spring, when BGCP mentors encouraged him to present an eighth grade speech, Jorge worked with his mentors to improve his writing and public speaking, skills that Jorge knew would be vital to his future success in school.

At the 8th Grade Gala, Jorge gave a commanding speech in front of 100 peers, teachers, and community members about the need for computer science and other programs that prepare low-income youth of color to be competitive in the 21st century job market. His parents and community were proud, but, more importantly, he was proud of himself.

Jorge is one of 2,500 low-income K-post-secondary students benefiting from BGCP programs at three clubhouses and 10 school sites in East Palo Alto, eastern Menlo Park and Redwood City. Although our students live adjacent to some of the wealthiest communities in the world, BGCP students are primarily low-income students of color, and face tremendous odds. Nationwide, only 8% of Latino students graduate from college.

"For students at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula, it's not a matter of lack of skill, talent or intelligence. The difference is the lack of opportunities that our students have access to," says Esmeralda Ortiz, senior director of high school and post-secondary success programs

BGCP, one of 10 beneficiaries of The Almanac's Holiday Fund this year, wants kids' futures to depend more upon their own actions than upon the circumstances into which they were born. We are not selective and welcome all K-12 students.

Our goal is to provide students with engaging learning experiences, exposure to opportunities that develop interests and passions, relationships with positive role models, and the academic and life skills required to graduate high school and pursue post-secondary education or training.

In addition to the academic support, enrichment, and social-emotional learning programs for all students, students who are at-risk of falling off-track for school success receive intensive second and third grade literacy interventions and sixth through ninth grade one-on-one advising, social-emotional coaching and goal-setting support.

BGCP students also have access to five full-time on-site therapists to address mental health challenges, which are a barrier to many students' success.

After participating in BGCP's summer high school transition program, Jorge is flourishing in ninth grade and demonstrating both personal and academic confidence. The next step in BGCP's K-12 continuum is our Future Grads program, which supports 10th grade through post-secondary students to become the first in their family to graduate from college.

BGCP staff will be proud to see Jorge and many BGCP peers join the over 200 Future Grad students who have graduated high school and the 89% that have enrolled in college.

To learn more about the nonprofit, visit

Make a donation
2021 Recipient Agency

Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula
Provides after-school academic support, enrichment, and mentoring for 1,800 low-income K-12 youth at nine locations across Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, and the North Fair Oaks neighborhood of Redwood City.

Ecumenical Hunger Program
Provides emergency food, clothing, household essentials, and sometimes financial assistance to families in need, regardless of religious preference, including Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets for more than 2,000 households.

Health Connected
Serves over 5,000 students and their families each year through comprehensive sexual health education programs. Students learn to have ongoing communication with parents and to make informed decisions that will apply to their lives, now and in the future.

Provides shelter/housing and supportive services across 18 sites in Silicon Valley and the Peninsula. Serves thousands of homeless families and individuals annually on their path back to permanent housing and self-sufficiency.

Literacy Partners
Supports literacy programs and projects through fundraising and community awareness. Helps community members enhance their reading, writing and related skills and education to improve their economic, professional and personal wellbeing.

Ravenswood Family Health Center
Provides primary medical and preventive health care for all ages at its clinic in East Palo Alto. Of the more than 17,000 registered patients, most are low-income and uninsured and live in the ethnically diverse East Palo Alto, Belle Haven, and North Fair Oaks areas.

St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room
Serves hundreds of hot meals six days a week to people in need who walk through the doors. Funded by voluntary contributions and community grants, St. Anthony's is the largest dining room for the needy between San Francisco and San Jose. It also offers take-home bags of food, as well as emergency food and clothing assistance.

St. Francis Center
Helps low-income, working families become self-supporting members of the community by providing long-term solutions through educational programs for children and parents, as well as after-school programing at Siena Youth Centers. St. Francis Center also provides housing, food and clothing services to address short-term needs.

Serves more than 32,000 people throughout San Mateo County, including children, young people and families, with counseling, prevention, early intervention, education, and residential programs. StarVista also provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services including a 24-hour suicide crisis hotline, an alcohol and drug helpline, and a parent support hotline.

Upward Scholars
Upward Scholars empowers low-income adults by providing them with financial support, tutoring, and other assistance so they can continue their education, get higher-paying jobs, and serve as role models and advocates for their children.

As of Jan. 26, 2020
174 donors have contributed $262,702
to the Almanac Holiday Fund.
* indicates amount withheld

27 Anonymous131,523
Paul Welander75
Jim Lewis*
James E. Esposto*
Dorothy Saxe*
Roger & Pat Witte200
Sybille Katz*
Erika L Crowley*
Mark and Karen Weitzel*
Barbara Jacobson150
Bruce Whitson200
Vicky Rundorff*
Michael & Lenore Roberts150
Robert & Barbara Simpson*
Dorothy Kennedy*
Andrea G. Julian500
Kathy & Bob Mueller100
George & Mary Norbeck50
Jerry & Shirley Carlson250
Lorraine Macchello100
Lucy Reid-Krensky200
Penny & Greg Gallo500
Jaggers Family5,000
Gisela Brugger1,000
Douglas Adams*
Ronald Clazie50
Richard Duda200
Dan Hilberman100
Marcia Makino & Rod Perkins*
Betsy & Horace Nash500
Douglas Keare Jr. & Jill Morgan1,500
Ross & Elizabeth McDougall300
Paul Perret500
Bob Williams & Carol Mayer Marshall500
Joan Lane1,000
George Mader100
Shirley & John Reiter300
Eliot & Cris Terborgh*
Bob & Barbara Ells500
Joe & Julie Zier150
Kathy & Smith McKeithen*
Bill & Nancy Ellsworth*
Diane & Dave Toole100
Leon & Abby Campbell100
Robert Mullen250
Marc & Mary Ann Saunders*
Ann Hillman1,000
Barbara Kinsey300
Claiborne Jones200
D. Robin Toews25
John Woods500
Valerie Van Sickle100
Joyce Pharriss500
Mary Pless500
Susan Russell100
Robin Ferris25
Deborah Hage10
Bill Wohler419
Mary Cooper125
Susan Kritzik250
Richard Thesing1,000
Jim Sharp100
Karen Alden350
Marieanne Cullen50
Sally Freyberg200
Catherine Siegel300
Carolyn Davis100
Joan Rubin100
Kayleen Miller100
Betty Meissner200
Sid Chen & Sandra Lee Chen*
Heather Watson100
Kathy & Bob Feldman200
Katherine Bryant*
Clay & Nita Judd*
E.R. & B.L. Dodd150
Robert & Connie Loarie*
John A. Galen100
Bob & Mary Dodge200
Catherine A Cerny*
Bob & Marna Page*
Diane & Martin Brandt500
Timothy C. Wright3,000
Laura Hofstadter & Leonard Shar500
Mayling Dixon100
Sandy Shapero500
John Donald100
Sue-Viole Mcmahon-Bishop75
Peter Rudd50
Dorothy Fuller-Polash500
William & Patricia Critzer1,000
Leslie Airola & Hy Murveit500
Avilla Family 60
Don Lowry & Lynore Tillim100
Margaret Melaney300
Sabelman Family250
Tate Family10,000
Terri D. Bullock Family5,000
Kevin Novak & Hannah Gilula1,000
Betsy & Frank Stockdale500
Connie & Bob Lurie*
Liz McDougall300
Margaret & Jamis MacNiven100
Allison Butler & Richard Peers2,000
The Brennan Family500
Barbara & Bill Binder*
Cynthia Dusel-Bacon & Charles Bacon200
Donald Kirtley150
George Fisher500
Jeffrey & Diane Garver1,000
Hannah Sowerwine100
Barbara Fullerton200
Janet Cook500
Mendelsohn Family10,000
Jelani Kejon200
Lynne Fovinci100
Bruce & Ann Willard1,000
Melanie Austin*
The Frank Sammanns50
Nancy Federspiel600
David Reneau100
Linda Craig250
David Dickinson1,000
Kathryn Stivers1,000
Gail & Susan Prickett500
Don & Catherine Coluzzi*
Noble & Lorraine Hancock500
Carol A. Kemper200
Kenneth Ashford180
Elizabeth Bosman100
Donna Mackowski100
Kristina Johnson100
Janice Brody & Bruce Rule1,000
In Memory Of

Bill Hewlett & Dave Packard100
Annie Strem*
Scott Carey1,000
Robert Oliver*
Bill Land*
Jean Zonner100
Frank & Celine Halet500
In Honor Of

Nancy Stevens*
Mar & PoPo Russ*
Businesses & Organizations

Menlo Park Firefighters' Association500
Rotary Club of Menlo Park Foundation10,000
Griffin & Sons Construction150
Narrative Histories200
Hewlett Foundation8,750
Packard Foundation15,000

Changes or corrections to listings may be made by contacting Kali Shiloh at [email protected]