Holiday Spirit

Upward Scholars student Christen receives her laptop from, left to right, Janet Larson of Atherton, Upward Scholars Executive Direct Linda Prieto, and Mary Lou Schiavo of Atherton. Photo courtesy of Upward Scholars.

Posted December 5, 2019

Upward Scholars offers support and hope

by Linda Prieto, executive director of Upward Scholars

When Upward Scholars alumnus Amado came to the U.S. from Mexico in 2011, he started at zero. "I couldn't communicate in English. I didn't have a job. I didn't have any experience in this country," Amado says. His first job was working as a line cook at a Mexican restaurant earning $8 an hour.

In June, Amado graduated with a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and two months later began work as a project engineer at WebCore builders, a San Francisco-based general contractor.

Amado attributes much of his success to the support he received from Upward Scholars, a nonprofit that provides adult immigrants in our community the boost they need to move up the economic ladder through education and vocational support.

Soon after coming to the U.S., Amado enrolled in ESL (English as a Second Language) classes at Sequoia Adult School, then started taking classes at Canada College. At that time, he also applied for a scholarship from Upward Scholars. During Amado's tenure at Canada, he received more than $2,000 in support from Upward Scholars, which paid for his textbooks as well as bus passes that covered the cost of transportation to and from college.

"When I began my journey, the people at Upward Scholars were among the first people who believed in me," Amado says. "I will always be grateful for that."

Amado is one of 824 students Upward Scholars has served since 2011. Most Upward Scholars students are immigrants who came to the United States as adults.

In addition to receiving textbooks and bus passes, many Upward Scholars students receive laptops that are critical to college success.

"Before I received my laptop, I did all of my assignments on my phone," says Christen, a recent laptop recipient who lives in Menlo Park and is taking ESL classes at Canada College. "This laptop changed my life."

The Upward Scholars laptop program receives critical technical support from Menlo Park resident Sue Kayton, who also is the coordinator of Menlo-Atherton High School's Computer Donation and Refurbish Program.

A cornerstone of Upward Scholars support is its tutoring program, in which students are paired with local volunteers who work with their students one-on-one at a time and location that is convenient to the tutor and the student. This semester, almost 80 students are working with an Upward Scholars tutor or mentor.

Menlo Park resident Deb Abel has been an Upward Scholars tutor for the past five years. "Tutoring an Upward Scholars student is a rewarding way to add real value to someone's life," Abel says. "And it's a tangible way to help students feel welcome in our country."

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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
Provides free literacy services to adults in the Menlo Park area. Trained volunteers work one-on-one to help adults improve reading, writing and English language skills so they can function more effectively at home, at work and in the community. Basic English classes, weekly conversation clubs and volunteer-led computer enrichment are also offered.

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 January 14, 2020
167 donors have contributed $150,000
to the Almanac Holiday Fund.
* indicates amount withheld

23 Anonymous22400
Jerry & Shirley Carlson250
James E. Esposto*
Sherrill Swan1000
Dorothy B. Kennedy*
Kathy & Bob Mueller100
Barbara Jacobson150
Penny & Greg Gallo500
Lucy Reid-Krensky100
Dorothy Saxe100
Joe & Julie Zier100
Roger & Pat Witte100
Kathy & Bob Feldman500
Susan Kritzik & Bruce McAuley500
Paul Welander75
Victoria Rundorff*
Lynne Davis*
Donald Lowry & Lynore Tillim100
Laura Hofstadter & Leonard Shar500
Brennan Family200
Douglas Keare Jr. & Jill Morgan1000
Leslie & Hy Murveit200
Karin Eckelmeyer100
Mark Weitzel10000
Connie & Bob Lurie5000
Bob & Mary Dodge300
Barbara & Bob Ells500
Barbara & Bill Binder*
Gail & Susan Prickett500
Ron & Carol Clazie*
Michael & Lenore Roberts150
Margaret Melaney200
Linda Keegan200
Andrea G Julian500
Anne Hillman1000
Lynne S. Fovinci50
Sybille Kats*
Lorraine Macchello100
Bob & Marna Page*
Robert & Barbara Simpson*
Susan Carey2000
Clay & Nita Judd*
Elizabeth Tromovich100
Robert & Connie Loarie*
Tate Family10000
Anne G. Moser*
Del Secco Family*
Robert L. Mullen250
Thelma L. Smith*
Robert & Karen Allen50
Don & Catherine Coluzzi*
Paul Perret500
Barbara L. Bessey*
Margaret & Jamis MacNiven100
Susanna Tang & Albert Scherm300
D Austin Grose500
Carole Mawson100
Charles Martin250
Bill Wohler419
Marcia Makino250
Duncan & Jean Davidson*
Susan Hine100
Amy Roleder100
Betty Meissner150
Tricia Wright2000
Joyce Pharriss250
Joan Lane1000
Ken Ashford75
Ann Morgan*
Kathy & Bob Feldman120
Pegasus Family2000
Sandy Shapero500
Erika L Crowley*
Calhoon Family500
Earlune Mund200
E.R. & B.L. Dodd175
Frank & Betsy Stockdale1000
Mary Kenney*
Christina & Bill McClure100
Wanda Cavanaugh100
Mike & Leslie Crisp100
Renee Chevalier500
Jonathan Hahn50
Gary & Roma Wagner250
Charles Bacon & Cynthia Dusel-Bacon200
Bettina Mcadoo500
Susan Ellis & Mark Linton*
Kayleen Miller100
Sue & Viole100
Gordon Chamberlain600
Gisela Brugger1000
Bruce & Ann Willard1500
Ann Treadwell*
Maggie Mah & Thomas Johnson*
Marc & MaryAnn Saunders*
Judy & Doug Adams*
Volckmann Famkly2000
Stamler-Kemeny Family750
Melanie Austin500
Barbara Kent250
Linda Craig & Evan Hughes250
Steve Patrick100
Dorothy Polash200
Kerry DeBenedetti*
Linda Maki150
Betsy & Horace Nash500
John Barbour30
Mary Cooper50
C. Friesman100
Dianne Ellsworth250
David Reneau150
Michelle Rapp1000
C. & B. Thompson225
Bobbie & Gale Fullerton100
Noble & Lorraine Hancock500
Stan Scott75
Donna Mackowski200
Kathryn Stivers1000
Tom & Joyce Dienstbier*
Frank & Nancy Sammann10
Annie Nunan200
Terri D. Bullock Family2500
Jim Lewis*
Kenneth M. Ashford193
Bob Barrett & Linda Atkinson250
In Memory Of

Peter Hurlbut100
Jerry Carlson of Woodside*
Annie Strem*
Louise Bertolucci25
Jean Zonner1500
Esther Johnson100
Ted Heidinger250
Bill Land*
Jean Zonner1500
Penny Gamel*
In Honor Of

Nancy Stevens*
The Liggett Family*
Dennis McBride250

Carstens Realty10000
Menlo Park Rotary Club Tour de Menlo Bike Ride20000
Griffin & Sons Construction150
Menlo Park Firefighters Association500
Narrative Histories - Maggie & Mark da Silva200
Hewlett Foundation8750
Packard Foundation15000