Jan 24

Making Waves

Source: Melissa Fries, CAP Executive Director, Making Waves Foundation, Communities of Practice Committee Co-Chair

Organization: Making Waves Foundation, a member of the NCCPC, is committed to coaching our students, called Wave-Makers, to graduate from college as quickly and with as little debt as possible, prepared to enter a career. Each year, we provide students with need-based scholarships, individualized coaching and financial services coordination, networking opportunities, and information on budgeting. 

Mission: To advance educational opportunities for college-bound, career-minded, historically underrepresented, and underserved youth. 

Vision: A society in which all youth—regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status—have access to high-quality educational opportunities and the tools to achieve success.


CAP, our Making Waves Foundation’s college success program, commits to coaching students, called Wave-Makers, as they earn their college degrees. Each Wave-Maker has a two-person team supporting them throughout their time in college. Students talk to their coaches frequently, complete education plans to map their path to graduation, prepare for internships and job interviews, and create budgets with their financial coordinators. A key component of our work is guiding students to graduate with minimal debt and in four years whenever possible. We believe students are better off starting post-college life debt-free. 

Making Waves supports more than 500 students currently enrolled in college and a network of more than 500 college graduates in California and across the U.S. Our students and alumni are passionate about recycling their success and giving back in their careers and in their communities. Often their journeys attending and graduating college positively change the trajectory for their entire family.

Photo credit: Making Waves Foundation CAP

Our students and alumni are passionate about recycling their success and giving back in their careers and in their communities.

— Melissa Fries, CAP Executive Director


Making Waves Foundation’s CAP joined NCCPC as founding members in 2019 because we believe there is power in partnership. Two key areas of focus for us are workforce development and campus partnerships. Working with other organizations in the Bay Area helps us secure more internship and career opportunities for our Wave-Makers to pursue and campuses are more responsive to a larger collective.


Being part of the coalition helps us navigate campus relationships easier and better than we could as a single organization. NCCPC also provides space for leaders to share challenges and offer thoughts on solutions and approaches. We have met and gained insights from many others in the college success space from our work in the coalition.

Melissa Fries is co-chair of the Communities of Practice Committee, and Courtney Arguello from Making Waves Foundation’s CAP team is co-chair of the Workforce Committee. We also participate on the Campus Partnerships Committee. Especially as we all grappled with the impact of COVID-19, the coalition has been a source of support and learning.

Photo credit: Making Waves Foundation CAP


To further develop community building opportunities for our students, we are looking forward to the time when it is safe for the coalition to host events on campuses where our students can get to know each other. To further develop internship and career opportunities for our students, it’d be great for the coalition to focus on partnering with major Bay Area employers and organizations focused on career preparation and placement. Making Waves loves the idea of the coalition being a resource to all our organizations, so we aren’t each reinventing the wheel.


Getting to know colleagues doing the same work has been rewarding and being part of a network that has relationships with chancellors, mayors and college campuses is powerful. As a member of NCCPC we get to tap into collective knowledge, leverage our strength as a coalition and learn from each other.

There is so much need for student support. Getting through college is difficult and more so if you are the first in your family to take that journey. It’s expensive and requires an investment of at least four years of your life. There are a lot of organizations and people who want to support students, advocate for change, and see more low-income students and students of color earn their degrees so they can change their lives and the lives of their families. Being part of NCCPC has enriched our work experience and opened doors for our students.


Want to learn more about the Making Waves Foundation? Visit their website, or follow them at the social media handles below! 

Website: making-waves.org

Twitter: @makingwavesfdn 

Facebook: facebook.com/makingwavesfoundation

Instagram: @makingwavesfdn

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/making-waves-foundation