Nov 15

Students Rising Above

Students Rising Above (SRA) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit founded 25 years ago to serve first-generation students from low-income backgrounds across all nine counties of the San Francisco Bay Area. SRA now supports students across the country in college access, college success, and career development and preparation.
Source: Angela Bugayong, Senior Director of Program Strategy


SRA empowers students facing systemic barriers to define and find success through education, career, and in life.


SRA envisions a world in which every person can achieve economic and social equity.


When Students Rising Above was founded in 1998, our goal was simple: to empower historically excluded students to complete high school and enroll in college. Our commonsense mission defied the conventional belief that it was too late for those students to dream of academic excellence or successful careers. For the past 25 years, students seized their opportunity, proving time and time again that they are all poised to be rising stars.

Even in the face of ongoing hardships and a global pandemic, our students exhibited resilience like none other. They demonstrated the ability to adapt, to overcome the highest hurdles, and to never lose sight of their goals. Simply put, their dreams did not end once immense challenges began. Over the past three years, 100 percent of the students in our programs graduated from high school and 98 percent enrolled in college and universities.

SRA commits to the academic, financial, career, and emotional support programs we offer, and we will continue working together to accommodate other critical areas of need for students. From virtual learning to helping students navigate their health needs, we continue to broaden our scope of services so that every student has the opportunity to secure their academic and career ambitions.

Before we approach our organization’s 25th anniversary, we must acknowledge that there is no SRA without the incredible students we serve and the support from people in our community. For more information about SRA, please review our Fall 2022 update.


SRA is a Founding Steering Committee member of NCCPC; we continue to stay involved because SRA cannot move its mission and vision forward without collaborating and partnering with other organizations in this space. We all have similar goals, and we are more powerful and productive together.


SRA has one to two employees sitting on each NCCPC committee. Staff engage in the committee most aligned with their personal and professional interests as well as the programs they lead in the organization. Growth, capacity building and networking are all factors important to my development in this industry, and I want to ensure the SRA staff has access to these opportunities as well. Each SRA staff participating as a committee member collaborates, shares best practices and provides input to move the mission of NCCPC forward as well as SRA’s. Each committee member (listed below) has an opportunity to provide their expertise and/or resources at the meetings, collaborating to advance the committee OKRs.


  • Steering Committee: Angela Bugayong, Senior Director of Program Strategy
  • Policy Committee: Salote Tenisi, SOAR Internship Lead
  • Campus Partnerships: Myrtha Ortiz Villar, Data & Reporting Manager
  • Communities in Practice: Rose Allen, Virtual College Success Manager and Christy Foedisch, College Success Manager
  • Workforce Committee: Kaitlyn Endo, Career Development Manager


At the beginning of this year, SRA partnered with Inclusive Performance Strategies (IPS) to develop and finalize a comprehensive 18- month Strategic Planning process rooted in diversity, equity, including, and belonging. As an outcome of the process, SRA is excited to unveil an updated mission statement.  We currently are rethinking program design and practices to ensure alignment with SRA’s new mission.  In May of 2022 we partnered with The Justice Collective (TJC), a social impact organization that centers racial and social equity.  SRA staff participated in a series of trainings and conversations, understanding the history of racism in the country, examined our own identities and those of others. We explored tools and resources to integrate individually and in our professional practices – all through a racially centered lens that includes equity, diversity and inclusion.  SRA will continue our education as we examine and rethink our services and interaction with our entire community. 

Growth is the theme for the next few years: growth in programs; professional growth for staff and growth in infrastructure; and support towards the growth of NCCPC.


It’s important for us to think of the intersectionality of our work, services and stakeholders and how we can make a greater impact together to build capacity in our staff and support our students.