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Menlo Park: 'Shark Tank' spinoff raises $1.3 million for Peninsula kids

Funds will go to Boys & Girls Clubs' summer learning and college readiness programs

The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula, which provides after-school and summer education and enrichment programs for low-income children, raised $1.3 million at its recent "Shark Tank" event, held at the Sharon Heights Golf & Country Club.

The fundraiser is modeled after the ABC television show "Shark Tank," in which venture capitalists are pitched business opportunities and must decide on the spot whether to fund the venture.

Participating "sharks" – venture capitalists, tech executives and private equity investors – were: Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn; Peter Chung, CEO of Summit Partners; Frank Quattrone, executive chairman of Qatalyst Partners; John Marren, senior partner of TPG Capital; Theresia Gouw, founding partner of Aspect Venture; Jonathan Turner, founder & co-president of Qatalyst Partners; and Ian Smith, managing director of Allen & Company LLC.

Funds that were raised were matched by an anonymous donor.

The investors were asked to fund the expansion of two new programs at Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula: a summer learning program and a college readiness program, said Sean Mendy, development director at the Boys & Girls Clubs.

The summer learning program started last year after club staff received training from Camp Galileo, a local summer camp known for teaching kids about design thinking and innovation. As a result of their participation in the Boys & Girls Clubs program, most students did not experience summer learning loss, he said.

A pilot college readiness program was conducted during the past academic year with 18 students. All the students have been accepted into four-year universities, Mr. Mendy said.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula plans to scale up the college readiness program rapidly to serve more local high school students. The program teaches participants and their parents how to prepare for college and trains some students in peer mentorship to help their classmates develop college readiness skills, according to Esmeralda Ortiz, program manager.

"The Peninsula is one community with different neighborhoods," Mr. Mendy said in an interview. Many of the students that the clubs work with, he said, have parents who work in neighborhoods where prospective donors live.

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