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.

LifeMoves
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.

StarVista
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]