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2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit

First Graduate

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Adult & Child Matching Programs, Children & Youth, Education, Student Services, Youth Development Programs

Mission: First Graduate's mission is to help students become the first in their families to graduate from college, well-prepared to launch careers that are meaningful to them. First Graduate’s mission seeks to level the playing field for students who are immigrants or children of immigrants, who come from challenging economic circumstances, and who are otherwise disadvantaged in the dominant culture. We provide them with the long-term support that their more well-off peers receive so that they can be competitive high school and college candidates. And, this long-term investment in their education and exposure to career options sets them on a path to build careers, not just jobs. Education is a right, not a privilege, and we work with students from the summer after sixth grade through college graduation (a 10 - 12 year journey) to help them attain their degrees and thereby help their families move out of poverty in a single generation.

Results: Our long-term, individualized approach successfully meets the needs of first-generation youth. To-date, 100 percent of First Graduate high school seniors has graduated from high school and enrolled in college. 88% of First Graduate high school graduates are eligible for the California State University system compared to 52% in the San Francisco Unified School district (SFUSD number also includes non-first generation students); 68% of our high school graduates are eligible for the University of California system. By comparison 18% of Black and Latino students in California graduate eligible to attend a CSU and 6% graduate eligible to attend UC schools. Our students are attending schools across the nation such as San Francisco State University; Barnard College; the University of California, Los Angeles; Tufts University; and more.

Target demographics: First Graduate works exclusively with aspiring first-generation college graduates -- students who come from families with no college tradition. The majority of our students are immigrants or children of immigrants who receive either free or reduced-price lunch.

Direct beneficiaries per year: More than 469, plus their families.

Geographic areas served: San Francisco, CA

Programs: First Graduate's effective college access and success program helps more than 469 San Francisco-based students each year. In the spring of 2018, we enrolled our 16th class of new students and we are sending 37 high school seniors off to college! We coach our students for 10 years as they journey from middle school to high school, from high school to college, and from college into their first careers. We provide year-round academic instruction, tutoring and support; high school and college counseling; mentoring; family engagement activities; career exploration activities; and college scholarships and support.

Community Stories

22 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2 Maida B.

Board Member

Rating: 5

My first encounter with First Graduate came in 2003 when I was looking for opportunities to tutor high school students in reading and writing. That year of working with the first cohort of students (now all college grads!) as well as the sharp and dedicated staff led me to accept an invitation to join the board. Eight years later, I am as committed to First Graduate as ever! The difference the program makes in the lives of San Francisco youth, their families, and their communities is truly inspring. Because the commitment begins the summer before seventh grade and extends through the obtainment of a BA, staff build trusting and constructive relationships with students and families to help navigate the inevitable ups and downs of the adolescent educational journey -- always keeping the focus on the long view.

Jack D.


Rating: 5

I became a mentor in the first class of First Graduate in 2000. My student is close to graduating from UC Santa Cruz this year. I have also been a tutor at various times. It has been a wonderful experience. FG has an outstanding staff and a great group of volunteers. All along as a volunteer I have felt well connected and supported by the program. I never felt overwhelmed or isolated in the experience. I've felt like I'm part of a team sharing the goal of getting my student through high school, into college and now nearly through college. I've been able to talk to FG counselors, teachers, staff and volunteers, share information, get advice and share problems and triumphs. Within the program I was able to develop a strong relationship with my student's parents and family. I have been a lifelong volunteer and had the pleasure of being involved in some very good programs. First Graduate is the best program for volunteer support and satisfaction that I have ever been involved with. I have been very fortunate to have been a part of First Graduate for over 10 years now and I look forward to years to come.