Because of you, 2022 was the most successful year yet for college-going foster youth and first-generation college students! With the addition of first-generation college students from the Kayne Scholars’ program we now serve over 190 youth across 35 campuses.
Our unique Ready to Succeed (RTS) program model has evolved to meet the ever changing needs of our Scholars in a world that presents many barriers to their academic and career success.
Nationwide, these groups of under-resourced young people continue to fall behind their college going peers with only 11% of first-generation and only 4% of foster youth graduating and securing career track jobs by the age of 26.
With your support, RTS continues to change these statistics, and prepares these Scholars to excel, and, ultimately, enter and enrich the workforce. You are helping young people achieve their dreams and build a better future.
Ready To Succeed has solidified a holistic approach that is responsive, and anticipates obstacles that scholars may face during their academic career to keep them on track for success. The 5 Pillars of our programming help address scholar’s needs as a whole person, with the ultimate goal of successful graduation and employment within six months and the adoption of lifelong skills and community.
As a first-generation college student, born and raised in Los Angeles, Kim has helped with her family’s small business since she was a kid.
At UCLA she felt lost in the sea of students, and the University advisors, tasked with supporting thousands of others, weren't able to give her the time and attention she needed.
At RTS, Kim was able to hone in on career choices that would be right for her. “I felt lost on my own, but my RTS Career Advisor helped me build my resume from the ground up and she gave me feedback every step of the way.”
“RTS really differs from other resources that I've had…in that they really focus on the individual. You are not just a number, you are also a person, you have a personality, you have interests, you have dislikes. The coaches really try to get you to open up about that so they can land you a match with the exact company, employer or internship experience you want.”
As a result of Kim’s persistence, drive, and the confidence she gained from RTS coaching she served as a 2022 Service Fellow with Portal Schools, an emerging network of micro-schools where students simultaneously attain high school and college degrees. Kim helped build their student ambassador program, and managed their social media calendar to increase engagement.
Kim’s experience at Portal Schools led her to an HR and Operations internship during the fall semester at Ready to Succeed. She is currently pursuing a career track in Marketing and Human Resources.
715.5 coaching hours completed in FY 2022
Studies have found that those who engage in career counseling typically have higher wages and employment rates than those who do not1
$49,320: Average salary for RTS graduates entering the workforce in 2022 (6 times that earned by most foster youth at age 21).
We all need someone in our corner. Many of the youth served by RTS do not have someone they can consistently rely on to help provide them with career guidance and advice. RTS Career Advisors help Scholars from the ground up.
Camp Ready, a new, 6-week summer program, helps Scholars explore career options and build their job search tool kits before the academic school year begins. In the mostly-online, intensive program, led by RTS Career Advisors, Scholars build a resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile and professional elevator pitch.
With the success of this year’s pilot program, Camp Ready will become the first stop for all new Scholars joining the RTS program.
“In my school of 40,000 people, I only have a ten minute time slot with my Career Advisor. At RTS I have hours and hours of time with my career coach that I can schedule whenever I feel like. I feel much more confident in reaching for my dreams.”
From a young age, Alex dreamed of a career in the film industry, something more hands-on than a typical office job. But Alex felt like he would have to give up his dream in order to build a stable career in engineering. “When I first started college, I honestly did think about dropping out. I really didn’t see the point.”
Caught between what he saw as two separate paths, Alex reached out to his Career Advisor at RTS and was able to begin forming connections and building networks that would broaden his horizons. With his advisor’s help, Alex was able to connect with the head of a large studio, who put him in contact with a stunt coordinator. Finally, he began to see that his background in mechanical engineering was a crucial requirement for a special effects specialist.
“The biggest fear that I had with engineering and the film industry was that I wouldn’t be able to get my foot in the door, because it is such a niche industry. RTS helped me prepare myself. Now, I’m able to talk with people who are in the film industry and meet with them.”
Thanks to Alex’s commitment to his dream, the network building capacity of RTS, and your support of this vital programming, Alex is currently in talks with a professional stunt coordinator about a future apprenticeship.
Relationships are everything. Many foster youth and first-generation college students lack the social capital to build professional networks on their own. That’s why we help Scholars build life-long connections with professionals who can open doors to internships, jobs and people and help them build their own robust professional networks, increase self-worth, and open new career pathways.
This year our network of Volunteer Professionals expanded to over 500, with fields ranging from entertainment, business, healthcare, finance and tech to communications, psychology and sociology.
A recent study found that increased instances of people from lower and higher socioeconomic backgrounds forming relationships had a positive effect on upward income mobility2
It is estimated that over 70% of jobs are not published, but rather filled through networking3
“If you’re trying to marshal resources to go after an opportunity, you’re really trying to enlist the support and involvement of other people."- Reid Hoffman, Entrepreneur, Investor, Strategist
Jayshanai W., or Jae, was involved in the foster care system, and had an unstable family structure. Her grandparents had only a seventh grade education, and her parents only made it through the ninth grade. Jae knew that she wanted to accomplish more, and placed a high priority on her education.
Without a solid support system, the pressure to do well in school became too much for Jae. She was formerly on the Dean’s List but says, “during my last semester, I got in trouble academically. I had a lot of anxiety, and I was scared of getting kicked out of school.”
Jae asked RTS Wellness Coach, Sarah, “Can you help me? I have no idea what I’m doing and I don’t want to just give up.” Sarah was able to get Jae the mental health support she needed to stay on track to graduation.
College can be a stressful time for any young person but Scholars impacted by foster care and first-generation college students often face unique stressors.
The combination of lack of academic preparation, absence of family support, history or trauma, and difficulty with a cultural transition can put them at higher risk for mental health issues, lower retention rates and lower graduation rates.4
Because of your contributions, RTS has formed a partnership with Counseling West and Brenda McDonald RN, MFT to provide Scholars with no cost therapy sessions from a network of informed and experienced providers.
“A lot of the scholars that I work with have suffered quite severe degrees of what we call the trifecta: trauma, abuse, neglect. These are often things that never make the ‘statistics.’ My job is discovering this and helping them to view it from a place of compassion. Real change occurs when we understand where it all began,”
- Brenda McDonald RN, MFT
“The mental health and wellness support empowered me to graduate and start really taking my career seriously. The RTS staff and the wellness coach take mental health seriously, especially when dealing with the foster youth community.” -Jae W.
Because many of the youth engaged with RTS programming have disrupted or fractured family and social systems, providing them with the ability to make friends, meet peers, and feel a part of something is an important part of setting them up for success5.
Dodgers Game Day- Mental Health Awareness Night
Holiday Gingerbread House Decorating
Zoom Destress Meditation Sessions
Many foster youth and first-generation college students don’t have consistent exposure to adults working in career track jobs, and often not the jobs or careers they are interested in exploring.
Nohemi didn’t know what professional field she would be most suited for and felt unable to decide between medicine or environmental science. The uncertainty of post-college life with little or no safety net is daunting. “I was really confused and felt worried about what I was going to do after college,” she says.
Nohemi connected to the Career Advisors at RTS who helped her focus her passions and align her with an internship. She became a Summer 2022 Service Fellow, and served as a Research Intern at 7th Generation Advisors, a non-profit organization with the mission to work toward a more sustainable world. “My internship experiences have been really eye opening. It has changed the trajectory of what I want to do with my career, and I decided that I do want to go into the environmental field.”
Nohemi feels much more prepared and confident in her future, and has a paid internship this fall with Starcrest Consulting Group, a small firm focusing on air quality, climate change and sustainability.
Internships introduce Scholars to relevant fields, help them build professional connections, and give them the technical and soft skills they need to be career ready. RTS connects Scholars with internships tailored to their specific strengths and interests, provides application revisions and interview coaching, and provides direct financial support so that low-income scholars can have access to financial stability while participating in low and unpaid internships.
The RTS Service Fellowship Program provides select RTS Scholars with paid project-based internships, skill-based workshops, personalized coaching and peer and professional mentorship.
Participants gain critical work experience and build their professional and personal networks. In turn, our nonprofit partners gain great talent and the ability to advance their missions.
“My coaching experience at RTS has helped strengthen my skills to pursue an internship. People in my position don’t have the necessary skills, resources, or emotional support to pursue an internship like the one I had over the summer at Los Angeles Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell’s office. My experience shaped my career goals.” -Kyle J., Cal State Fullerton ‘24, Political Science Major, 2022 Service Fellow
“I was thrilled to see a person as young as Kyle take genuine interest in public service and I am hopeful this experience has better prepared him for future endeavors.” - Marina Escobedo, Human Services and Child Welfare Deputy, LA County Supervisor Holly J. Mithcell’s office
While UC Berkeley is a dream school for many, about 10% of the student population is without stable housing and many more go hungry. Melissa was very active on campus, but she didn’t always know how she would be able to afford her next trip to the grocery store. Through RTS, Melissa was able to access direct financial assistance to cover essential needs.
“The funding that was available to us each semester was the best thing that I could have had in my collegiate career. It was available to me if I needed groceries or had an emergency. I could focus on my classes knowing that I was going to do well because I was supported.”
During her last semester of school, Melissa had the amazing opportunity to intern at the office of U.S. Congressman Tony Cárdenas in Washington DC. She was able to use direct aid funds from RTS to purchase professional clothing suitable for her new position. “I had an internship in a congressional office on Capitol Hill and I don’t think I would have been able to do it without the support of RTS,” she says.
Despite facing food insecurity and financial instability in college, Melissa was able to make her dream of working in politics a reality. She graduated from UC Berkeley in Spring of 2022 with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and is working as a Staff Assistant in Rep. Cárdenas’ local office in Arleta, California.
For Scholars without substantial financial resources one unexpected expense can derail the best laid plans. Providing Scholars with what they need, when they need it and before something becomes a crisis, allows them to stay on track to graduation and beyond.
Ready to Succeed has formed a partnership with Change Reaction, the largest direct giving platform in Los Angeles to be able to rapidly dispense funds when emergencies arise.
Funding from the Kayne foundation provides for an annual scholarship for our first-generation college students. We’ve now committed to also providing our foster students with a similar $1,000 annual scholarship.
“I grew up in a home where it felt hard to feel secure, but thanks to RTS I have the opportunity to now be fully employed as a federal employee.” -Melissa E.
In fiscal year 2022, RTS’s revenue has doubled from the previous year! Total revenue was $2,286,099 and our total expenses were $1,871,665.
*Please note, values are from unaudited financial statements. Audited statements will be posted once the annual audit is complete.
RTS empowers foster and first-generation college students to graduate college, launch successful careers, and reach their full potential.
Elizabeth Friedman Chair; Collins & Katz Family YMCA
Todd Kessler Vice-Chair; Dancing Dog Productions, President Audible, Executive Producer
Karen Kehela Sherwood Secretary; Disney, Film Producer
Tania Suster Treasurer; Consultant
Thomas Lee First Place for Youth, CEO
Emmanual Benton Verizon, Sr. Manager of Business Intelligence
Jon Gimbel Gallant Capital, Partner
Natalie Catalan Canyon Partners, Vice President
Eddie Valcin TikTok, Partner Manager, Sports Creators and Athletes
Fred Bennett Quinn Emanuel, Senior Partner
Alyssa Lanz United Talent Agency, Literary and TV Agent
Robbin Steif Sherlock Investments, President
Romi Lassally Co-Founder & Co-Executive Director
Patrick McCabe Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director
Christian Baer Development Manager*
Madison Braybrooke Program Coordinator
Lucy Cherkasets Head, Opportunities & Volunteers
Zoe Fried CareerAdvisor
Taos Glickman Director of Data Analytics & Wellness*
Adri Gonzalez Career Advisor
Frances Hardy Director of Development & Partnerships
Gina Ibrahim Program Director
Kaleema Ishmel Operations Associate
Briana Lopez Volunteers Advisor
Sarah Morse Career Success Coordinator
Jazmin Navato Opportunities Advisor
Alexis Obinna Community Activator
Mayra Portillo Head of Community & Culture
Markie Price Development & Communications Associate
*Joined Oct. 2022
We at RTS are forever enriched having worked closely with Fred Bennett. We offer our sincere condolences to his family.
Jackie Beyer McCabe
Jessica Bylo Chacon
Valerie Cabrera and Rich Goldberg
Elizabeth and Glen Friedman
Jon and Elana Gimbel
Christy Glass Lowe
Todd and Sharon Hall Kessler
Karen Heilman and Cary Thompson
Ken and Teri Hertz
Jodi Wilensky Hill
Jeffrey and Sandy Hudson
Lance and Moira James
Neil and Laura Kapp
Karen Kehela Sherwood
Kathy and Steve Kloves
Jennifer and Chris Lewis
David and Jen Miner
Lauren and Simon Park
Suze and Marc Schwartz
Justine Stamen Arrillaga
Patrick and Deborah Stern
Tania and Marc Suster
Jennifer and Lawrence Trilling
Wendi and Steve Trilling
Robert and Dorothy Tufo
Rachel and Paul Vogel
Hal and Allison Washburn
Jeremy and Marisa Zimmert
Ric and Suzanne Kayne Foundation
Aramont Charitable Foundation
Chuck Lorre Foundation
Herbert R. and Jeanne C. Mayer Foundation
Sam Simon Charitable Foundation
Dwight Stuart Youth Fund
Anthony and Jean Pritzker Family Foundation
Johnny Carson Foundation
James Collins Foundation
Herbert and Elaine Kendall Charitable Foundation
Perlman Family Foundation
Segal Family-United World Foundation
Lehman Hirsch Foundation
3 Arts Entertainment
Sony Pictures Entertainment
United Talent Agency
Anne Sisteron Fine Jewelry
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Learn more about our amazing scholars and upcoming programming, visit www.readytosucceedla.org
If you know a Scholar who would benefit from our programming please contact firstname.lastname@example.org