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Catalyst for College


July, 2011




ALearn's summer programs are buzzing with excitement and learning in 14 districts across Santa Clara  and San Mateo counties.  We are serving 1500 students in our Math Acceleration Program and an additional 320 students in our Catalyst to High School program.  The underrepresented, low income students are studying pre-Algebra, Algebra and Geometry, and learning to dream of college, college, college.


We are very delighted and honored  to welcome our newest ALearn Board member, Deborah Stipek, Dean of the Stanford School of Education. Deborah has led the Stanford Ed school for the last ten years, and during her tenure it has been consistently ranked one of the top 5 education schools in the country. In addition, she shares our passion for closing the equity and achievement gap for under-represented students and is a thought leader in improving student engagement.  


As one of our students told us last week "not only am I going to college as a result of this program, but since being in your program last year, my parents are now taking college classes and my brother has enrolled in college too. You changed our whole family with this MAP program." 


Please come hear our students and our summer program results at ALearn's 2nd Annual College Catalyst Breakfast on September 28, 2011, from 7:30-9am at Sharon Heights Country Club. You can RSVP to June Montgomery at See you in September! 


Warmest Regards,

Kathryn Hanson

Founder & CEO


 Math Acceleration Program (MAP) Update

  ALearn Students Get on the College Track


The completion of Algebra I in eighth or ninth grade is commonly recognized as a gatekeeper to a students' path to college. Students who complete algebra before ninth grade are far more likely to take calculus in high school and pursue higher education than those who do not.  To this end, ALearn, with its partners, the Silicon Valley Education Foundation and the Hispanic Foundation of SV, is providing intensive Pre-Algebra and Algebra summer programs to 1500 students entering grades 6-8 in 11 school districts.


MAP - July


Besides learning Algebra, ALearn's programs inspire students to attend college.  Students are tutored by college student teaching assistants; parents and students attend a college information night; and all ALearn students visit a university campus.  


 "I learned that everyone can go to college if you study hard and become successful."  

ALearn student comment after visiting SCU


Watch the news program, "For the Love of Math," where NBC Bay Area's Damian Trujillo followed ALearn students on their visit to Santa Clara University.  


map 2 - july    

 Catalyst to High School Program Update
catalyst 2 - july


ALearn's Catalyst to High School program grew this summer to serve 320 students in 5 high schools over 3 districts: Woodside High in the Sequoia Union District (new), Mountain View High School and Los Altos High School, Overfelt High School and Yerba Buena High School (new) in the Eastside Union District of San Jose.


The Catalyst program is 4 years old (in the past it was known as AVID Bridge), and it prepares entering freshmen to be ready for an intensive college preparatory curriculum.  These students take intensive Algebra (5 hours per day for 5 weeks) and the goal is to have most of them pass out of Algebra I and into geometry when they start school in August.  Some of the Overfelt High students already passed Algebra in May, so they are taking Geometry and those successful at passing the district exam will then pass into Algebra II as freshmen in high school. The students will actually finish an A-G requirement in math over the summer, and be a year ahead of where they would otherwise have been!


In addition, a College Readiness curriculum prepared them to think about college and careers and how to stay on the college path.  Their interest for college has been stimulated by a college student (plus teacher) in every classroom; a visit to San Jose State University or Santa Clara University where they engaged in science experiments, saw robots, took a campus tour, heard from college students; and a college information night with parents and students.        


At the end of the program, students exhibit their math work, their goals for high school and college and career, and their plans for getting there.  With a tri-fold of dreams, they share these goals with parents and family.

catalys 1 - july

Zoomz Update

Zoomz workshop - july

Things have been quite busy with Zoomz, our social networking site for first-generation students! Thanks to a $15,000 first-time grant ALearn received from the Knight Foundation in March, we were able to hire GovDelivery, a social media consulting group in Washington D.C., to create a strategic marketing plan with the goal of exploring different strategies to continue to improve our network and better serve the needs of first-generation students.  From July 19-21, representatives from GovDelivery organized workshops, interviews, and roundtable discussions with our high school and college students as well as some of ALearn's partners including Silicon Valley Education Foundation, the MESA program, Santa Clara University, Foothill College, and the AVID program. The full report will be ready by late September, but there have already been some exciting changes to Zoomz and our membership has increased to more than 1,300 students!

Check out Overfelt High School's End of Program Celebration video ( and pictures of Santa Clara Unified College Info Night ( among other updates posted at

Fundraising Update

 agilent logo

As the world's premier measurement company, Agilent offers the broadest range of innovative measurement solutions in the industry. Agilent is committed to providing innovative measurement solutions that enable our customers and partners, the leaders in their fields, to deliver the products and services that make a measurable difference in the lives of people everywhere. We would like to thank Agilent Technologies Foundation for their recent donation of $5000.


Cisco logo


We would like to thank Cisco Foundation for their $15,000 donation to our MAP program. At Cisco, customers come first and are an integral part of their DNA. They create long-lasting customer partnerships and work with them to identify their needs and provide solutions that support their success. Cisco has shaped the future of the Internet by creating unprecedented value and opportunity for their customers, employees, investors and ecosystem partners and has become the worldwide leader in networking - transforming how people connect, communicate and collaborate.


Sandisk logo 

SanDisk has grown to become the world's largest supplier of flash memory cards. Serving both consumers (with more than 240,000 retail storefronts worldwide) and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), SanDisk designs, develops, manufactures and markets flash storage products for a wide variety of electronic systems and digital devices. SanDisk also licenses its technology to a number of other industry-leading companies. ALearn is very appreciative of SanDisk's recent $15,000 contribution to our MAP program.   


Yahoo logo 

ALearn is thrilled to have recently received a $28,914 grant from the Yahoo Employee's Foundation for our MAP program. Yahoo is a leading global brand that creates deeply personal digital experiences using technology, insights based on data, and intuition to bring together personally relevant content and experiences from across the Web. They attract more than half a billion consumers every month in more than 30 languages - making Yahoo! one of the most visited and most trusted Internet destinations.  

In This Issue
MAP Update
Catalyst to High School Program Update
Zoomz Update
Fundraising Update
Save the Date
Deborah Stipek joins ALearn Board
Katherine Hamby Success Story

Save the Date!


Alearn invites you to attend their 2nd annual College Catalyst Breakfast on Wednesday September 28th from 7:30am - 9am at the Sharon Heights Country Club in Menlo Park.  We are pleased to have Emmett D. Carson Ph.D as our special guest speaker as well as students sharing their ALearn experiences. We will also be highlighting our successes achieved over the last year and our plan for next year. We will be sending out a formal invitation in the next week, but if you want to RSVP immediately, please contact June Montgomery at 650-269-5827 or email her at There is no cost to attend, but we do encourage donations and sponsorships.

Deborah Stipek joins the ALearn Board

Deborah Stipek 


Deborah J. Stipek, Ph.D  is the James Quillen Dean  and Professor of Education at Stanford University and has just joined ALearn's Board of Directors. According to Deborah, she is "thrilled to be the newest member of the Board and to provide guidance and support as we focus on closing the achievement gap. My passion for increasing the number of under-represented students who get on the college path aligns with ALearn's mission and the success they have experienced with their summer programs over the last four years."    


Deborah's doctorate is from Yale University in developmental psychology. Her scholarship concerns instructional effects on children's achievement motivation, early childhood education, elementary education and school reform. In addition to her scholarship, she served for five years on the Board on Children, Youth, and Families of the National Academy of Sciences and is a member of the National Academy of Education. She also chaired the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Increasing High School Students' Engagement & Motivation to Learn and the MacArthur Foundation Network on Teaching and Learning. Dr. Stipek served 10 of her 23 years at UCLA as Director of the Corinne Seeds University Elementary School and the Urban Education Studies Center. She joined the Stanford School of Education as Dean and Professor of Education in January 2001.

A TA Success Story

"Making a big impact in a short amount of time"


Last summer, Katherine Hamby was a Teaching Assistant for the ALearn-Silicon Valley Education Foundation college prep summer program. She was amazed at the huge improvement in her middle school students' math scores from the start of the program. Besides their marked improvements in math, the students increased their classroom participation and exhibited high enthusiasm during the exercises. Katherine thoroughly enjoyed working with the classroom teacher, Nancy Johnson, who encouraged her to contribute to the instruction and to deliver her own 30-minute lessons.


Katherine was a first generation to college student herself and had to arrange much of her own financing for college. With that experience she was a strong mentor to her students, who were mostly from low-income parents who did not attend college. Katherine's openness and sincere interest in the students encouraged them to approach her for assistance.


A program highlight for Katherine was witnessing the students' excitement as they toured Santa Clara University during "College Day." Her students questioned SCU students about their college experience. For many, this was their first time on a university campus and the first time they had ever considered attending college. At the program's College Information Night, Katherine participated on the "On College Track" panel and answered questions from parents and students about her experiences attending Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. The parents were sincerely interested and Katherine realized she was making an impact on the parents as well as the students.


Today, Katherine is the Campus Director at Citizen Schools while she continues to volunteer at ALearn during the school year. Due to her ALearn experience, Katherine now understands the importance of completing Algebra in middle school as a key step in preparing for college. Her work at ALearn and Citizen Schools has galvanized her desire to mentor and educate students as a career. Katherine is considering becoming a math teacher, school administrator or student college/career counselor. Her next step is to pursue a Masters in Education.


Thanks Katherine for your great work!

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