PSP welcomes Brian Ishida to the Board of Trustees

April 25, 2017 in Articles, Board by Dikla Tuchman

We are excited to welcome three new board members to our Partnership Scholars Program community: Brian Ishida, Sara Potter, and Walter Garcia. PSP is excited about this addition to our leadership and vision as we continue to advance our mission of providing academic and cultural enrichment to help our scholars succeed! 

Brian Ishida

As a Senior Vice President at California United Bank, Brian Ishida has the opportunity to work with many nonprofit organizations. Last year, he was introduced to Partnership Scholars Program and the work the organization does by his colleague, Sharon Hauptman. Brian was looking for the right fit for an organization to get involved with and he was instantly moved by the mission of the organization “I’m a big believer that without the right opportunities people will never expand outside of their comfort zones,” says Brian. “That’s something that really touched home with me.”

A native Angeleno, Brian grew in Gardena, a city with a very diverse socioeconomic make up. “I saw firsthand the difference an opportunity can make,” says Brian. “Friends during my youth who were exposed to various cultural and educational opportunities flourished, while those who weren’t fell into a closed mindset and couldn’t get themselves to expand out of their comfort zones. I look back and realize the opportunities I had, and want to give back.”

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Celebrating partnership: A look at the Oder Family Foundation’s Dana Oder

April 20, 2017 in Articles, Partner by Dikla Tuchman

The PSP community is lucky to have so many dedicated partners. Thanks to the enthusiasm of our donors and sponsors, hundreds of scholars set out on a path toward achieving their goals that they wouldn’t have had otherwise. For over 13 years, Dana Oder and the Oder Family Foundation have been prominent supporters of Partnership Scholars Program. To date, they have helped 29 scholars develop their interests and prepare for college success.

Dana Oder first heard about PSP in 2004 through the Southern California Grant Makers, an association of grant-making foundations. “As soon as I heard there was mentorship involved we were very interested and I knew that it would be a good fit,” says Dana. Dana reached out to Meg Sanchez, who had helped launch the organization in 1996. Meg, Dana and PSP’s founder, Glenn Langer, all met in Lennox where Dana learned more about the mentorship program, and Dana agreed to become a sponsor.

“The next important part [was] the leadership. When I met Glenn and heard about his past and the passion for the children, it [stuck] with [me]. He was very enthusiastic!”

As a sponsor of several students a year through her family foundation, Dana has been able to see the organization grow and evolve over the years. “Every year I could see that difference,” says Dana. “It’s really been a fulfilling experience.” She felt so strongly committed to PSP’s mission of helping low-income students succeed that she joined PSP’s Board of Trustees for a time.

Dana has had the pleasure of meeting some of the students and their families at PSP events, such as induction and graduation ceremonies and takes great pleasure in receiving regular updates in the mail from the students she sponsors. “The letters and post cards are really impactful,” says Dana. “I’ll take those that are sent to me and I pass them around to those who work with the foundation. It’s impactful to see the pictures and get to see what the students are getting out of the program.”

The biggest reason Dana continues to give and be so involved with the organization is seeing the students reach their goals time and time again. “To see them from start to finish…it’s a remarkable process,” says Dana.

PSP welcomes Sara Potter to the Board of Trustees

April 20, 2017 in Alumni, Board by Dikla Tuchman

We are excited to welcome three new board members to our Partnership Scholars Program community: Brian Ishida, Sara Potter, and Walter Garcia. Brian has a background in finance and joins the Board hoping to provide advice and guidance on the financial health of the organization. Sara and Walter are the first of PSP’s alumni to join the Board of Trustees and both look forward to being able to give back to the organization. PSP is excited about this addition to our leadership and vision as we continue to advance our mission of providing academic and cultural enrichment to help our scholars succeed! 

Sara Potter

Sara Potter is one of two PSP alumni to join the Board of Trustees. Sara brings with her a passionate desire to give back to the organization that gave her so much when she was in middle and high school. Sara is a Partnership Scholars Program class of 2006 alumni with her BA in Art History & Sociology from UC Santa Barbara and her MA in Education with an emphasis in Student Affairs from UCLA. She now works as a Financial Wellness Coordinator at UCLA, guiding students in financing their education. Since graduating over 10 years ago, Sara has maintained a close relationship with her mentor and is excited to now be part of the organization’s leadership.

This is Sara’s first time serving on a nonprofit board, but she has had experience serving on several committees, including the UC-wide Food Security Committee, on which she worked to promote food security for students who struggle. She also served on the UCLA First Generation College Student Committee, which supports students at UCLA who are first in their family to attend college.

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PSP welcomes Walter Garcia to the Board of Trustees

April 20, 2017 in Alumni, Board by Dikla Tuchman

We are excited to welcome three new board members to our Partnership Scholars Program community: Brian Ishida, Sara Potter, and Walter Garcia. Brian has a background in finance and joins the Board hoping to provide advice and guidance on the financial health of the organization. Sara and Walter are the first of PSP’s alumni to join the Board of Trustees and both look forward to being able to give back to the organization. PSP is excited about this addition to our leadership and vision as we continue to advance our mission of providing academic and cultural enrichment to help our scholars succeed! 

Walter Garcia

PSP alumnus Walter Garcia graduated from the program back in 2010. He feels strongly about giving back to a program that he says provided him with some extraordinary, life-changing experiences. “I would not be where I’m at today were it not for the help of others, like the Partnership Scholars Program,” said Walter. “And so, I feel an inherent responsibility to give back.”

Walter graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Political Science and immediately went on to work in politics in Washington D.C. He has worked for Representatives Keith Ellison and Tony Cardenas, the United States Department of State, the Democratic National Committee, and recently accepted the position of Press Secretary for California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

This will be Walter’s first experience serving on a nonprofit board and he is very excited at the opportunity. During his time serving on the board, Walter looks forward to ensuring that the alumni perspective is alive and well. “I am not too far removed from the experience of being in the program,” says Walter. “I remember very vividly the experience I had, and I want to make sure that point of view is always a part of the conversation.” He is also looking forward to raising the program’s profile and outreach. “The program is not too well-known, but has done so much for so many people,” says Walter. He hopes to help the organization get more exposure and share its success with the world.

Walter grew up in Los Angeles and now resides in Sacramento. He enjoys playing soccer, traveling, and spending time with loved ones.

Why Lennox: A history of PSP’s 20-year partnership

March 21, 2017 in Articles by Dikla Tuchman

Over 20 years ago, Lennox Middle School (LMS) was engaged in a partnership with UCLA and the Howard Hughes Corporation. Though this partnership, Dr. Glenn Langer, Head of Cardiology at the UCLA Medical School, started volunteering at Lennox School District. He was impressed by the bright, motivated students at LMS and almost equally astonished to find out that a number of those students had not been out of that 1.3 square mile community. Dr. Langer noted that “progression of a student through high school to graduation was problematic; entry to a four-year college, a rarity. Many of the students had never travelled outside the district in their lives!” After all, the ocean is only a couple of miles away, yet many students had never seen it. “This Depression kid immediately identified with these twelve- to thirteen-year-olds,” said Dr. Langer.

Using the LMS-UCLA-Howard Hughes partnership as a springboard, Dr. Langer came to the principal and vice principal of LMS and pitched an idea for a scholarship program to assist students who showed academic promise. The partnership had the following goal: That motivated but economically and culturally disadvantaged students are not limited by their environment but are assured of progressing to a level determined only by their own considerable talents to the end that they will be competitive for entry into four-year colleges with scholarship aid. “That first year, we interviewed about 75 kids and out of those, picked seven to be in the program,” says Meg Sanchez, then LMS assistant-principal and current PSP Board Chair. “Once those kids finished at LMS, those students were sent to a private high school in Playa del Ray in order to keep them on track, in lieu of keeping them with mentors through high school.” Proving far too costly, the private school component was done away with and replaced with mentorship through high school.

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Ukiah scholars hit the slopes

March 21, 2017 in Articles by Dikla Tuchman

When initially mapping out the six years ahead of them, many mentors come up with a “must do” list with their scholars. For example, when mentors realize that many scholars have never taken a trip to the beach, a trip to the coast goes right up to the top of the list. For Ukiah mentor Kim Roth, a ski trip became a “must do” as soon as she found out very few PSP scholars had been to the mountains. “When we first sat down and thought through what they could do in the first two years of being in the program, I thought about things we did with our kids,” says Kim. “I said, ‘Have you guys ever been to the snow?’ and they said no. I just think it’s one of those things that everyone should experience.” So she started talking with fellow mentors and some of the scholars in Ukiah about what they thought of taking a ski trip over the winter. Two other mentors stepped up – Elizabeth DeVinny and Roseanne Ibarra – and eight scholars were on board, and with one of the snowiest winters upon them, the Ukiah group was ready to take on a weekend trip to Dodge Ridge.

Like with most PSP overnight trips, the idea behind the weekend excursion was to have the students experience something new, get out of their element, and challenge themselves. Planning for the trip began last summer. “Originally we had thought about going up to Tahoe, but it was too costly,” says Kim. “My son was working up at Dodge Ridge and I realized it was much more affordable. It was a way more family friendly ski place than Tahoe: There was no traffic, no crowd, and no waiting in long lines.” Dodge Ridge is just east of Sonora at Pinecrest, in Northern California’s High Sierra Mountains. The three mentors and eight scholars stayed in Sonora, about a 30 minute drive from the ski area. Going as a big group – a mixture of five eighth, two ninth and one tenth grader – the scholars were able to bond in the car, overnight at the hotel, and then on the ski slopes. “At the beginning they weren’t that talkative,” says Roseanne. “Within a couple hours, they were talking and laughing.

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PSP takes on leadership role in SoCal College Access Network

February 23, 2017 in Articles by Dikla Tuchman

This year, PSP, represented by Executive Director Lisa Ruben, is amongst 12 other leaders selected to sit on the SoCal CAN Steering Committee, the elected body made up of members from network organizations, which oversees ongoing strategic goals and work plan for the network. “By being on the Steering Committee, PSP can help guide the work of the network, ensuring that it continues to help us meet the needs of our scholars and mentors, along with supporting thousands more first generation students across LA County,” says Lisa.

For several years now, Partnership Scholars Program has been an active member in the Southern California College Access Network (SoCal CAN). The network was formed in 2005 as an alliance of over organizations working to promote a college-going and completion culture in Southern California. SoCal CAN now has 70 member organizations that meet quarterly to learn, collaborate, and advocate on issues facing first generation college students in the region.

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Going above and beyond

February 22, 2017 in Articles by Dikla Tuchman

Last semester’s grades are in and an impressive 48 scholars – nearly a quarter  of our current scholars – have attained a 4.0 or better GPA. These  students continue to show great determination and strive for the very best, working hard to keep their grades at the highest level. While PSP requires a minimum GPA of 3.0 throughout the six years in the program, we are proud that many of our scholars are striving to achieve more in order to reach their dreams of attending top universities in California and around the country.

Students like senior Daniela P. at Ukiah High School are highly self-motivated to achieve a 4.0. “I know that having a GPA above a 3.5 is good enough for me and everyone that’s watching, like my parents or PSP, but inside I get a great amount of satisfaction with myself,” says Daniela. “I try for a 4.0 as much as I can even though I know I won’t get it most of the time and it’s okay when I don’t because I know I tried my best. But when I do reach that goal it feels really good inside.” Like most PSP scholars, Ukiah High School junior Ivan R. will be the first in his family to go to college and is determined to do what his older brother could not. “When my brother was in high school, he wasn’t able to keep a 4.0 because of language difficulties,” says Ivan. “I’ve proven that I’m capable of that and raised the bar. I’m pretty proud that I’m the first one in my family to have done that.”

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PSP’s Program guru steps into new role

February 22, 2017 in Articles by Dikla Tuchman

There is next to no one more intimately familiar with the inner workings of Partnership Scholars Program than newly promoted Program & Operations Manager, Maria Hernandez. “Maria is deeply familiar with the students we serve and has dedicated herself to doing everything she can to help them succeed,” says Executive Director Lisa Ruben. “In this new role, Maria will be taking on a greater management role to make our student events, like the college tours and college retreat, as fun and informative as possible. She’ll also be helping us develop new programs that will help us better engage the families of our scholars.”

Going back to 1999, only three years after the program started, Maria began her journey with PSP as an inductee at Lennox Middle School. “I remember being terrified, because it was my first interview,” recalls Maria. But her fear quickly turned to sheer excitement when she was notified that she had made it into the program and would be benefitting from six years of mentorship, through her graduation from Animo Leadership Charter High School in 2005. “I was the happiest 7th grader in the world,” says Maria. “I told everybody…everyone who knew me heard about it.”

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Welcome Class of 2022!

January 25, 2017 in Articles by Dikla Tuchman

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This year, PSP welcomes 18 new scholars to the Partnership Scholars Program class of 2022.

Our new scholars are an inspiring class; each has a personal story that speaks of hope, motivation, courage and most of all, big dreams for the future. These new students are excited at the possibilities ahead with the support PSP will provide them throughout the next six years of their educational journey.

One student says, “An education that a majority of students take for granted is what I take very seriously.” Another says “I want to be successful and be able to help my family and be a good example to my younger siblings.” At El Monte’s induction ceremony held on January 18, incoming Charles T. Kraz Intermediate School 7th grader Derek M. acknowledged that it will be hard work, but he plans on attending Harvard University and becoming a child psychologist.

Over the last couple of months, students completed a rigorous application process that included responding to essay questions, providing letters of recommendation and, and, for the small pool of finalists, sitting through a panel interview. Every year, Partnership Scholars Program receives a tremendous number of qualified applications from bright, motivated young individuals in our program sites of Lennox, El Monte, Fort Bragg, and Ukiah. In Lennox alone, there were 70 applicants who were eager to be a part of this year’s PSP class. Each 7th grader who is admitted to our program demonstrates that they are committed to the six-year journey that will culminate in their attendance at an institution of higher education. Each of our new students has a mentor who will expose them to new cultural experiences and educational opportunities, helping them along the way to achieve their dreams.

We are excited and honored to help the class of 2022 as they explore the world and pursue their dreams!

PSP sponsors make it possible for each scholar to have a six-year scholarship that supports a wide range of cultural and academic activities with their mentors.

Thank you to the sponsors of the class of 2022!

Dr. Glenn Langer
Mr. Tom Turner
Oder Family Foundation
Dr. George Ferenczi & Dr. Miki Kalpins
Mr. and Mrs. Richard & Sue Masson
Mr. and Mrs. Malcolm & Sylvia Boyce