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Catalyst for College


January, 2011



We are excited to enter 2011 with lots of energy, excitement about our programs and confidence in our growth. We savor the following successes of 2010:
  • served 1,000 middle school students with our middle school math intervention program (MAP)
  • served 200 students in our bridge to high school program, now renamed Catalyst
  • served over 800 first generation students on our social network through Zoomz
  • built our Board to 13 strong and well-respected community leaders and professionals, with the addition of the following new members: Barbara Adey of Cisco, John Huber of Wells Fargo, Frank Pisciuneri of Silicon Valley Bank, Valerie Vasquez of Deloitte and Nan Geschke (see story below)
  • built our donor base to include many companies, community foundations, family foundations and individuals
  • established partnerships with the following great organizations: Silicon Valley Education Foundation, RAFT, Santa Clara University, WestEd and Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley

As we move into 2011, we envision more growth and impact:

  • helping to close the achievement gap by bringing more underserved students to grade level in math in the grades 7-10 through our MAP and Catalyst programs
  • raising the expectations of thousands of first generation students and their families so that they know about and get on the path to college eligibility
  • increasing the penetration of the Zoomz network so that students, their families and school counselors can share the "secrets" of attending college
  • deepening our partnerships with 11 school districts in Santa Clara County and moving into San Mateo County with our Catalyst program

We recognize there is much more work to be done, but look forward to the challenge in 2011. Special thanks to all of our donors and partners without whom our work would not be possible.



Kathryn Hanson


Math Acceleration Program (MAP) Update

ALearn is  excited to announce that the MAP 2011 summer program is underway! On January 7, ALearn, in collaboration with our partners, the Silicon Valley Education Foundation and the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley, hosted a Kick Off meeting with the Superintendents from our nine participating school districts. It was great to see so many leaders committed to celebrating the achievements of last year's program and to continue making a positive impact on the education of low-income, first-generation students. 


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MAP is hiring
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ALearn is hiring college teacher assistants for our MAP 2011 summer program.  We are looking for students interested in a teaching career and who have finished their sophomore, junior or senior year of college. The college teacher assistant will tutor and teach math to middle school students.  They must work well with disadvantaged youth, be proficient in Algebra, and have strong verbal and interpersonal skills.  If you know of any college students who fit this profile, refer them to our site at and contact us at

Meet one of our Teaching Assistants
BB Villanueva


B.B. Villanueva, a college teacher assistant during the MAP 2010 summer program, has the following to say about her teaching experience with ALearn this summer "I had such a rewarding experience working with ALearn and have become particularly interested in continuing to fuel the eagerness of under-represented students in science and conservation.  I am currently in the market for a teaching position to engage, educate, and inspire youth from urban and diverse backgrounds."

Catalyst to High School Program Update

ALearn's Catalyst to High School summer bridge program helps low income, first generation students successfully pass Algebra I before entering high school.   We are looking forward to partnering with the following five high schools this summer: Overfelt and Yerba Buena High Schools in the East Side Union High School District; Mountain View and Los Altos High Schools in the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District; and Woodside High School in the Sequoia  Union High School District.   These programs will enable up to 250 incoming high school students to take Geometry in 9th grade.  This will be a significant step in their path to complete UC/CSU university eligibility requirements and get to college.  

The following are the results from a survey administered to students in Mountain View and Los Altos High Schools who participated in the 2010 Catalyst to High School summer program:
  • 73% consider themselves better prepared for high school math
  • 78% believe the program had the academic rigor expected in good high school classes
  • 80% think they learned useful study skills that will help them be better students

Students had the following comments about the program:

"What I liked best about this program was that I was able to conquer a subject I had trouble with earlier, so now I can understand the class next year."


"I liked the help I got from the teachers and tutors that helped them, I felt comfortable asking them anything I did not understand."

These comments are a testament of the positive influence that "Catalyst to High School"  is having on first-generation, minority students. We are making a difference with your help!


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In This Issue
Math Acceleration Program Update
MAP is hiring
Catalyst to High School Program Update
Zoomz Update
Fundraising Update
Board Update
Quick Link:
Zoomz Update

Our social networking site for first-generation high school and college, has now grown to over 850 members!  New content, including, blogs, forum discussions, contests, and information on scholarships is added and updated constantly to support aspiring first-generation students in high school and college so that they may reach their goals of completing a college degree.


Vibha Salgamy, a first-generation student at Purdue University who, as a College Mentor blogs on Zoomz about her experience in college, is available to connect with other students who will be the first in their family to pursue a higher education.


Check out her blog that provides advice to high school students on effective ways to spend winter break!

Fundraising Update

ALearn is extremely grateful to our generous supporters who make all of our programs possible.  We could not accomplish all that we have without your generosity. To make a donation, please go to our website at


ALearn is proud and excited to have recently been awarded a grant of $100,000 from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation for operating expenses related to MAP (Math Acceleration Program).  This is the second-year of support for our program. The Silicon Valley Community Foundation has awarded nearly $900,000 in grants to help close the achievement gap in middle school math in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. 



"Our students are scoring far below other states and even other nations. Moreover, the way our system is failing socio-economically disadvantaged students and students of color is unconscionable. Without effective instruction, students will not be able to catch up. They will not be able to take the courses they need to get into college," said Emmett D. Carson, Ph.D., CEO and president of the community foundation.


The Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) provides visionary community leadership by identifying emerging challenges in our region. They address those challenges through their grant-making programs, research and their ability to bring together diverse groups of problem-solvers.  The SVCF has $1.7 billion under management and has awarded $250 million in grants. They are ranked 14th amongst the nation's largest foundations in total giving. 


We at ALearn are very grateful to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation for their continued generosity in supporting our MAP program and helping us to achieve our mission of helping more minority students from low income families get the academic support and motivation they need to go to college.  Our programs enhance the opportunities, access and advancement to college for students who will be the first in their family to go to college.

Board Update


ALearn is excited to welcome Nan Geschke as the newest member of our board of directors.  With an impressive background in education and service to the community, Nan will contribute her expertise to ALearn's development and strategic planning committees.


Nan is a retired librarian and middle school teacher. She managed the Westinghouse Research Facility library in Sunnyvale California during the 1980's. Nan also worked as a sales director and consultant for a small library placement firm until 1993. She served on the Historical Commission for the City of Los Altos   from 1991 to 2000, and board chair for six years. While serving on these commissions, Nan produced the Los Altos History Show for eight years. Nan was one of two project managers that helped plan and build the City of Los Altos's first museum, the Los Altos History Museum. She holds a bachelors degree in History and Political Science from Marygrove College and a master's degree in Library Science from San Jose State University.   ALearn is very fortunate to have Nan on our board and we are looking forward to the contribution which she will surely make to our continued success. 

Nan Geshke