Newsletter #2


Apr 2020


We Can See the Finish Line in Sight — Now What?

It is one thing for students to graduate, it is another for them to do so whole and healthy, ready for whatever the next adventure brings.

From For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood… and the Rest of Y’all Too.                 
by Christopher Emdin

We are all wondering what the future landscape will be for our work environments and career options. While many of our scholars have been holding a job or two for many years, finding a full-time career path is a new venture — and especially challenging during a pandemic and recession. The families of our scholars don’t have the network of professional connections more affluent students can tap into with ease. We learned, through a project of our Berkeley Board Fellows, that there are enormous differences in the scope and quality of services offered by the career centers at the various UC and CSU campuses. To help close the gap, as our students wrestle with the uncertainty and challenges that normally come with being a recent college graduate, we added an important component to our programming: career readiness and planning.

Navigating the Path to Jobs and Careers

Starting with our Summer Orientations and Workshops, our newest cohorts learn early on the tools and resources to find work, a career, and economic security. We also try to match them with a mentor who works in their field of interest. As scholars advance through school, BCS college success advisors give them career-related goals to achieve. BCS also participates in programs hosted by board member Rashida Hanif’s RepresentED, giving our scholars the opportunity to fine-tune and learn from established professionals. And last, our newly established Alumni Council is piloting various programs to support graduates as they navigate entering the professional workforce.

Pamela Rodriguez-Ortiz (2015 High Hopes Scholar) and classmates at RepresentEd project presentations.
Pamela Rodriguez-Ortiz (2015 High Hopes Scholar) and classmates at RepresentEd project presentations.

We have enhanced and added components to our program that allow us to better meet our students’ professional needs:

Our Summer Programs include the following sessions:

  • Financial planning for college 
  • Financial planning for your first years out of college
  • Finding, utilizing, and maintaining a mentor
  • Housing options and roommate trials and tribulations
  • Courses selections – making the most of your time in an effective and efficient timeframe
  • Internships, shadowing, career exploration
2018 scholars and mentors at Summer Orientation.

Our workshops with RepresentEd cover the following issues which are critical to one’s success in the 21st Century workplace:

  • Human Centered Design
  • Research and Critical Thinking
  • Social Capital
  • Public Speaking
  • Collaboration, Planning, and Prioritizing
  • Communication and Conflict Management
  • Problem Solving
  • Imposter Syndrome

And our Alumni Council, who are newly joining the workforce, are paying it forward by providing the following:

  • A Professional Clothing Closet of new and slightly worn clothes for interviews and work
  • Professional Development workshops for college  juniors, seniors, and recent graduates to provide support with:
    • Resume writing
    • Interview preparation
    • Online representation – Linked In Profiles etc.
    • Meet Ups and Shadow experiences

You Help Level the Playing Field

These efforts give our scholars access to social capital that helps them compete in the world with those who have been fortunate to have middle- and high- income, college graduate parents, relatives, neighbors, and colleagues in their lives. By providing our scholars with these resources and tools, they will have a greater chance of obtaining jobs and career success.

We are grateful that your support has enabled us to put these programs into place. With the pandemic bringing our nation to an economic standstill, the harsh inequities in our country are even more consequential. Those who have resources can navigate quickly, pivot nimbly, and will be the first to recover in these challenging times. Those who were already being left behind, underserved, and often ignored will struggle to find a footing in the “new normal.” Completing a bachelor’s degree is the first step toward getting that footing and on the way to greater economic stability.

BCS Advisors and Mentors Help Navigate Emotions

That first step often comes with an emotional toll.  As one young woman noted:

Will my success take me far away from where I grew up and from the family that raised me?  As I enter into a rarified space that none [of my family] has ever comprehended, am I leaving them behind, while I am breaking free?… Is that truly The American Dream?

We understand those feelings — they are real and present, can be physical and psychological, and often become “larger than life” barriers for our scholars. Utilizing our mentors, our College Success Advisors, and the many friends that scholars meet along their journey, we are able to help our scholars tackle the feelings and the obstacles which are both real and perceived. We will remain steadfast in our help to our scholars as they navigate these complicated, cherished, and challenging times.

The coronavirus has turned all of our lives upside down—but for students and families with little means, the consequences are more dire. The impact on these families will take years, not months, to overcome. Your donation will help our scholars stay in college, pursuing their dreams, and provide economic stability. You can also help by donating airline miles; up-to-date computers with camera capabilities; tablets or phones with current technology; or a financial contribution to help cover a student’s immediate need. For non-financial donations, please call 510-542-2126 and leave us a message.

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