Catalyst to College 
August 2012 Newsletter   


ALearn's 'Catalyst to College' Breakfast

Sharon Heights Golf & Country Club

October 17th,  7:30 - 9:00 a.m.  


Special Guest & Speaker: Jerry Porras


From a humble start in Texas to Professor Emeritus, Stanford, and

co-author of the bestseller Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.

Esteemed academic, organizational visionary, winner of numerous awards, board

member to top U.S. and international companies, highly sought lecturer... and a true

inspiration for any underserved child who has wondered, "How can I make it?"



Dear ALearn Friends and Supporters,


We have proudly finished our 5th summer of programs, and each year ALearn has increased the number of students served and improved the quality of its programs. ALearn's programs not only help students learn math and about how to get on the college path, they also transform the students' mindset about themselves and their potential. As we hear from students, teachers and college TAs, they liked ALearn's summer programs for the following reasons:

  • "It was fun but we still learned."
  • "The teachers and TAs helped so much. They answered all the questions I had."
  • "It helped me in math a lot and now I feel confident to go to college."
  • "(The program) helped me think more about my future. And yes, I did learn more about math. But it was MUCH MORE than a regular old Math Summer School."
  • "I can explain math principles better now. I know how to use Khan Academy, and I have stronger discipline skills." (Teacher)
  • "This program reinforced my abilities as a leader and role model." (TA)

ALearn is building a sustainable organization by adding to both its staff and Board. We are extremely pleased to welcome our new VP Programs, Vickie Grove, who has served as the Executive Director of Child Advocates for a number of years and brings both program and management expertise to ALearn. 


As Ms. Grove steps into the job, Julie Cates, ALearn co-founder, is moving on to other education endeavors but will remain active on the ALearn Board. Many thanks, Julie, for all of your great service in the past five years! You have been truly invaluable in getting ALearn to this point in its life and you'll always be part of ALearn. We are also pleased to welcome two new Board members, Chuck House and Lino Gonzalez.


ALearn is proud to have a good number of new (first-time) donors in the past few months: Seagate, Verizon Foundation, Microsoft, and the Junior League of Palo Alto; as well as individuals BJ & Bebe Cassin, and the Yen Chuang Foundation, and Jordan Plofsky. Yahoo! Foundation donated again at a significantly higher level. In addition, we welcomed back these returning donors in the past quarter: Boston Scientific, SanDisk, the Los Altos Community Foundation, Markkula Family Foundation, the Colleen and Geoff Tate Family, Ed McCracken and Ana Hayes, CS Park, Bob Grimm, Diane and Bob Frankle, and the Los Altos Rotary Endowment Fund.


We have deep appreciation and thankfulness for the efforts and support of our program partners, our hard-working staff, our donors and our many advisors who are helping us grow fast and well.


Warmest Regards,


Kathryn's Signature 


Founder and CEO


ALearn's AVID Bridge Students, Class of 2012!    


ALearn's first group of AVID Bridge students graduated from Los Altos High in June! The graduates are pictured in cap and gown with summer director Michael Moul (back, third from right.) "We are pleased to have 100% of our first class graduate, and 82% of them are college-eligible for the UC and CSU campuses," said ALearn CEO Kathryn Hanson.   






ALearn is proud to announce the two winners of the Zoomz Journey to College Scholarship:


Ezer Isai Angeles & Ruby Ochoa 

of Mountain View-Los Altos School District



ALearn is proud to support their college aspirations.  


Click on the image below to see Ezer's funny and creative video about his plans to go to college:





Click on the image below to see Ruby's colorful comic strip portraying her intended journey to Stanford University:







ALearn Success Story

Meet Salvador Chavez, from ALearn's first Bridge class and now a high school graduate.


                       "A Man with a Plan"                         


Sal Chavez is a very determined young man who in June 2012 became the first in his family to graduate from high school. When the ALearn Bridge class was recommended to him 4 years ago, he knew he wanted to go and was able to coax and prod his parents to push out their summer vacation so he could attend.


Sal shares "it was a good thing because even my parents saw an improvement in me; they saw my increased independence and that I took on more leadership roles". Additionally, Sal says "the class reinforced the materials with study skills, handouts for math and different ways of memorizing and applying those skills but doing it all in a fun way".


According to Sal's good friend Ben Macedo, "Sal is one of the most determined and organized people I know - he has a huge whiteboard at home that includes what will happen every day!!" Now Ben has his own little whiteboard!


Sal has made the most of his 4 years at Los Altos High School: 4 years on the class council (class of 2012), ASB outreach officer (for new students), an ASB Freshman advisory and President of the Latino student union this last year. Sal was also a weekly volunteer at the Senior Center of Mountain View and a monthly volunteer for the Spanish speaking PTA, LUCHA, at Los Altos High-- all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.


Sal graduated from Los Altos High in June 2012. He applied to 8 different schools in Northern California, was accepted to 7 and has chosen to attend Dominican College in San Rafael, leveraging $10K in scholarships. His major will be Occupational Therapy with a minor in Spanish language and literature and started on Aug 20th 2012.


ALearn looks forward to following Sal through college and in his career, since he inspires us and is a role model for other first generation students. We also thank him for his continued support of ALearn through the student panels and hope he might one day be a Teaching Assistant for Alearn!


ALearn's Spring Reception

was a huge success.


On May 16, more than 75 ALearn supporters, board and staff members enjoyed a special event at Stonebrook Court Manor in Los Altos Hills. The event included a student panel comprising juniors and seniors who participated in ALearn's first summer program four years ago. The students, most of whom will be the first in their families to attend a four-year university, credited ALearn with not only preparing them academically, but also boosting their self-esteem and nurturing their leadership abilities.


Pictured, from left, are Julie Cates, ALearn founder and board member; Ben Macedo, LAHS senior, Glenda Vargas, LAHS junior; Rashmeen Kaur, LAHS senior; Kathryn Hanson, founder and CEO of ALearn; and Sal Chavez, LAHS senior.      


Donor Update

All of ALearn's donors are incredibly important and we value  each and every relationship.  One of ALearn's 2012 goals has been to significantly increase our funding from corporate donors.  In the past few months, we have been very successful in this regard.  Several of our recent corporate contributions are highlighted below:


Yahoo! has awarded ALearn our largest grant ever ($101K).  Their generosity will fund almost 400 students and teachers with year-round math support.


Microsoft is focused on "empowering students through technology".  They have awarded ALearn a General Operating Grant in recognition of our use of web-based instructional materials from Khan Academy.  Over 1,000 ALearn students now spend 25% of their MAP time using online tools. This introduces them to "fun" technology and a resource that they can use on their own, free-of-charge.  


Seagate, Texas Instruments (formerly National Semiconductor) and Verizon each kindly funded one class of students this summer.   


The Verizon grant had an added component: mobile applications.   Specifically, ALearn evaluated whether a test group of 9th graders was more motivated to study using iPads versus a laptop or desktop.  We found that the students were more engaged, especially in home use which increased significantly.


SanDisk and Boston Scientific each funded an entire school district this summer, including 120 students total.  Both companies are multi-year donors and we great appreciate their continued support. 


Boston Scientific Yahoo logo HP logoSandisk logo   



In This Issue
Zoomz Journey to College Scholarship Winners!
ALearn Success Story
ALearn Spring Reception
Donor Update
Staff Update
Board Update
ALearn Graduates Class 2012

Vickie Scott Grove Joins ALearn as Vice President, Programs



We are delighted to welcome Vickie Scott Grove to ALearn. Ms. Grove is responsible for the strategic development and expansion of ALearn's summer and school year programs, whose overarching goal is helping low-income, first generation students prepare for and succeed in college.   


Prior to joining ALearn in 2012, Grove was Executive Director of Child Advocates of Silicon Valley.  Under her leadership, the agency developed programs in education, developmental assets and healthy choices for abused and neglected children.  Ms. Grove's background also includes twelve years of nonprofit consulting, focused on interim program and executive management and fundraising. At the beginning of her career, Vickie worked for five years in corporate finance.


Ms. Grove holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Dartmouth College and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Princeton University.  She taught at Hamilton College before attending New York University's Business School.  She is a 2010 graduate of CEN's Leaders Institute.


Board Update

Please welcome two new members to
 ALearn's Board of Directors!



Charles H. House, Chancellor, Cogswell College; Executive Director, Media X   


Mr. House has had a long and distinguished career in Silicon Valley, holding executive positions at many of the Valley's leading high tech companies, most recently serving as Director of Intel's Research Collaborative.  

His prior positions include Executive Vice President of Communications Research & Core Systems Development at Dialogic Corporation, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the VISTA Division of Veritas Software, and Senior Vice President of Product Management and Development at Informix Software Inc. 

During a thirty year career at Hewlett-Packard, he held various management positions, including General Manager at both the Software Engineering Systems Division and Logic Systems Operation.

In addition to serving on ALearn's board, he is also on the boards of the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, the Computer History Museum and the Global Business Network.


Mr. House holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Solid-State Physics from California Institute of Technology, a Masters in Sciences Degree in Electronics Engineering from Stanford University, a Masters in Arts Degree in History of Science and Technology from the University of Colorado and a Masters in Business Administration Degree in Strategic Studies from the University of California at San Diego, Western Behavioral Sciences Institute. 




 Lino Gonzalez, Ph.D.

Scientist, Genentech  

Dr. Gonzalez joined Genentech's Department of Protein Chemistry in 2001 following postdoctoral fellowships at Stanford and Yale Universities.  He has received numerous awards and honors over the last ten years for his scientific research.  As a mentor and speaker, Dr. Gonzalez has also actively supported and encouraged high school and university students to pursue careers in science.  Most recently he served on the board of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans.


Dr. Gonzalez holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry from the University of California Santa Barbara and a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California Berkeley.




Jonathan Ho  

ALearn's Summer Assessment Associate



Jonathan Ho worked with ALearn in the summer of 2012 through an AmeriCorps Summer Fellowship with New Sector Alliance. He is a proud product of the Franklin-McKinley School District and graduated valedictorian from Andrew Hill High School in San Jose.


Jonathan is a rising senior in the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania studying finance and international business. After completing internships in real estate, consumer goods, and academic research, he knew that it was time to return to his roots and be a part of the effort to tackle education problems faced in his own neighborhood.  


Jonathan's parents are immigrants from Vietnam, and he is a first generation college student. Because of his background, he speaks both Vietnamese and Spanish.  At ALearn, Jonathan has used his training in data analysis to work towards improving ALearn's data compilation, analysis, and assessment processes.




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