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Catalyst for College


September, 2011


Dear ALearn Friends and Supporters:


Our ALearn College Catalyst Breakfast was filled with 230 great supporters and partners who came to celebrate our students' success. We were blessed with a special Matching Gift Challenge Grant from Nan and Chuck Geschke, Bruce and Gail Chizen and Diane and Bob Frankle. Anyone who missed the breakfast can still have their gift matched by going to


We were delighted to have many of our breakfast sponsors in attendance: Deloitte, Kaye Scholer, Blach Construction, McKinsey & Company, Agilent, Safeway, Summit Partners, Agilent Technology and Houghton Mifflin, as well as Greg and Penny Gallo, Webb and Chris McKinney, Julie Cates and Fred Ware.


We were pleased to host our school district partners from MVLA, Alum Rock, Oak Grove, Berryessa, Santa Clara Unified, Mt. Pleasant, as well as our partners from the Santa Clara County Office of Education, the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, San Jose State University, Santa Clara University, Stanford University and Foothill De Anza Community College District. 


The morning's keynote speaker, Emmett Carson Ph.D, CEO of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, noted that the math and college focus of ALearn and other non-profits was helping to make a difference in Silicon Valley with the achievement gap for under-represented students. And then he challenged the group to help solve the systemic problem of too many districts in San Mateo and Santa Clara County-- 56 districts--where there should be just a few, more accountable districts. With his passion and humor, Emmett talked about the importance of education in transforming our region. If you want to view Emmett Carson's video, please go to:

breakfast with kathryn 

We heard firsthand from two middle school Math Acceleration Program students from Alum Rock, Gina and Edgar. Gina noted that ALearn had not only given her the dream and determination to go to college, but that it also sparked her Mom to take courses and her brother (whom she now tutors in math) to get on the college path too. Edgar now wants to become a pilot, having been inspired by Jose, his Teaching Assistant (TA) for the summer, to pursue aviation courses at San Jose State.


Two students from our Catalyst Program in Mountain View Los Altos High School District, Monzerat and Paola, shared their stories as well: how Paola had to get herself up at 6 am to take a city bus to get to summer school, and how the program not only helped her in math but encouraged her to take leadership positions in her high school---and then listed about 10 of them! Monzerat said she had been failing in math before, but by the end of the summer had gone to the top of the class and was now clearly headed to college and learned that "math applies to everything". If you want to view the student panel, please go to

 breakfast - jimenez and kids

Finally, many of the guests were able to pick up signed copies of books by Francisco Jimenez, an ALearn Board member and Santa Clara Professor titled: The Circuit, Breaking Through, Reaching Out and The Christmas Gift. Many, many thanks to our hardworking staff who put on the breakfast: Event Chair June Montgomery, Mary Tate, Emily Wu, Carlos Jimenez and Julie Cates. 


Warmest Regards,

Kathryn Hanson

Founder & CEO


Math Acceleration Program (MAP) Update
MAPOur programs continue to help more students become college bound!


During this summer, ALearn served over 1300 students in 6th, 7th and 8th grade across 11 school districts, through our Math Acceleration Program which was provided in partnership with the Silicon Valley Education Foundation and Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley. 


ALearn helped these students get on the college track - key to success in high school college prep courses is proficiency in Algebra. With our Math Acceleration Program, we made some significant gains: 

  • Over 70% of our students were accepted into a higher level of math course (more than 500 7th graders are taking pre-Algebra and 410 8th graders are taking Algebra)
  • Student math skills improved significantly as measured by tests given on the first and last days of the program
  • Student attitudes and motivations, which are essential to sustaining an ethic of hard work, improved:
    • 96% of students agreed with the statement:         "I feel more motivated to go to college" 
    • 94% said they "feel more confident and motivated as a student"

MAP students are from under-represented backgrounds - over 70% Latino, and 25% from other ethnic minorities.


The MAP Program is truly transformational for these students. A teacher talked about being able to turn students around and liking math during the MAP program:


"A child who said he really, really didn't like math told us he was forced to attend by his parents. But after a few days, he actually found it was fun to come and it really started making a difference to him when he saw his first post-test and how he had improved more than 50%. He couldn't believe it, he said, he got it now, and felt so much smarter. He thanked me for helping him to learn the stuff so that he could be a better student and said he now actually liked the parts of math that I'd taught him."


Congratulations to our MAP students as they continue their math education and journey to college!

Zoomz Update
There a lots of new and exciting things happening in Zoomz, ALearn's social networking site for first-generation students. We are proud to introduce to you the 2011-2012 College Mentors: Yusuf Alam (SJSU) Montserrat Ayala (Centro Eleia University), Virginia Jimenez (SCU), Thompson Ly (UC Davis), Kai Fujioka (UC Santa Cruz), Roberto Bugarin (Foothill College), and Mary Kane (UC Santa Cruz). All of our Mentors were Teaching Assistants in the Math Acceleration and Catalyst to High School programs and are committed to continue supporting and motivating middle and high school students to do well in school and go to college. The mentors are expected to blog, add to the site, keep up with former students as well as other activities.


Click here to read some of the blogs written by the Zoomz College Mentors on how to deal with stress and the experience of having new roommates:



In This Issue
Math Acceleration Program Update
Zoomz Update
Catalyst to High School Program Update
College Day San Jose
Catalyst to High School Program Update


losaltos - catalyst
Our Catalyst to High School program was extremely successful in motivating students and getting them on the math and college track. We served 318 students in three districts and five high schools in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties: Woodside High in the Sequoia Union High School District; Mountain View and Los Altos High Schools in the Mountain View/Los Altos High School District; and Overfelt and Yerba Buena High in the Eastside Union High School District. The incoming high school freshmen made impressive gains in math:
  • 68% of Algebra I students passed to Geometry
  • 83% of Geometry students passed to Algebra II
  • The program achieved a retention rate of 89%

Here are what the students had to say about the program:


"The proudest moment for me was when I saw the difference, the change in me. I was motivated and I learned a lot about math and much more. Now I'm proud to say that I really like math."


"My proudest moment was when I saw my grade in the class and how well I had done on my first test."


"I liked the fact that there were tutors to help me when I felt lost and that the teachers, tutors, link leaders, etc. helped me and encouraged me to want to be a successful student and be someone in life."


A special thanks to the program director, Dino Certa, the former Principal, Overfelt High School in Eastside Union District and to the dedicated teachers, college teaching assistants, and high school volunteers that made this summer's program so successful.


College Day San Jose
On September 30, ALearn helped organize College Day San Jose, a city-wide initiative to promote going to college among elementary, middle, and high school students in San Jose. A team from ALearn visited Stonegate, Sherman Oaks, and Ben Painter schools to share their career journeys and motivate the students to follow their dreams by getting a college education.
Painter School
Fundraising Update

 Boston Scientific

ALearn would like to thank the Boston Scientific Foundation for their recent grant of $20,000 to fund our Math Acceleration Program. This enables two classes of thirty students each to participate in this potentially life-changing program. From their humble beginnings in a small laboratory in Massachusetts, Boston Scientific has grown and then honed their core to over 25,000 people world-wide, carrying the passion and commitment of their founders. They now deliver a broad portfolio of innovative medical solutions worldwide through the Cardiology, Rhythm and Vascular Group, the Endoscopy Division, the Urology and Women's Health Division, and the Neuromodulation Division.

 Juniper logo

Juniper Networks is leading the charge to architecting the new network. At the heart of the new network is their promise to transform the economics and experience of networking for their customers. They offer a high-performance network infrastructure built on simplicity, security, openness, and scale. They are innovating in ways that empower their customers, partners, and ultimately everyone in a connected world. ALearn is very grateful to theirgenerosity in funding the Math Acceleration Program for $20,000.


Applied Materials

Applied Materials is the global leader in providing innovative equipment, services and software to the semiconductor, flat panel display and solar photovoltaic industries. They have generously funded our Catalyst program for $15,000 and helped to make a difference in the lives of underrepresented high school students so that they can move forward on the college going path. 


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