Educational Institutions


  • San Francisco, CA

Mission Statement

Students Rising Above invests in low-income, first generation college students who have demonstrated a deep commitment to education and strength of character in overcoming tremendous odds of poverty, homelessness, and neglect. We help each student to realize his or her potential by guiding and supporting them through college graduation, and into the workforce. Our graduates are breaking the cycle of poverty within their own families, serving their communities, providing a new generation of employees and leaders from diverse backgrounds, and accelerating positive change.

Main Programs

  1. College and Workforce Success Program
  2. SRA College2Careers Hub
Service Areas



Students Rising Above's College and Workforce Success Program serves students from throughout the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. The SRA College2Careers Hub supports students nation-wide.

ruling year


Principal Officer since 2004


Mrs. Lynne Martin

Co Principal Officer since 2005


Ms. Barb Hendricks



scholarship, low-income students, college bound, first generation college student, Bay Area, mentors

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Also Known As

Students Rising Above






Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Undergraduate College (4-year) (B42)

Scholarships, Student Financial Aid, Awards (B82)

Student Services and Organizations (B80)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?


Self-reported by organization

Students Rising Above enables low-income youth overcome tremendous obstacles of poverty, abuse, homeless and neglect by succeeding in college and the workplace. 100% of our students come from low-income families and 94% are the first in their families to attend college. 62% are from foster care or are not living with a parent. SRA provides these youth with all the support they need to access college, earn college degrees, gain work experience, develop job skills, and enter the workforce.

We select students the summer before their senior year high school and make a 5-7 year commitment to work with them until they graduate from college and enter the workforce. Our program works. 90% of our students complete 4-year degrees and 93% are either in career-ladder jobs or graduate school within 12 months of college graduation.

Higher education attainment is the best antidote to poverty with great returns for society. In 2010, Clive R. Belfield or Queens College, City University of New York, conducted a study of college preparatory programs in the United States. He concluded that for every $1 invested in SRA, more than $4 is returned as direct fiscal benefits by increases in federal and state tax receipts, and reductions in federal and state benefits over a lifetime. The return on investment at SRA continues from one generation to the next. Multiple studies show that a child has a 93% chance of enrolling in college if at least on parent has a college degree. Moreover, SRA teaches the importance of giving back. 85% of its students and alumni volunteer in their communities.


Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

College and Workforce Success Program

SRA's College and Workforce Success Program helps low-income students prepare for and succeed in higher education. Students enter the program the summer before 12th grade and receive five or more years of services including: college readiness workshops, college application/selection/enrollment assistance, mentoring, academic advising, tutoring, financial aid application assistance and advocacy, direct financial assistance, health care, career development, internships, and college-to-workforce transition support.



Population(s) Served

Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General



Program 2

SRA College2Careers Hub

Launched in fall 2014, the SRA College2Careers Hub is a free online college and career advising service and student community for low-income youth. Students log on and receive comprehensive information and guidance on every step of the high school-to-college-to-workforce pathway (college applications, financial aid, college enrollment, study skills, job readiness skills, internships, etc.). Information is provided via interactive webinars and message boards, videos, online panel discussions, links, texts, and a searchable resource library.
Importantly—and uniquely—students can privately contact a professional SRA Advisor for individual assistance for free. They are guaranteed a response within 24 hours, but usually the response comes within a couple hours, if not sooner.



Population(s) Served

Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General



Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    The qualitative goals of Students Rising Above are to:
    1. Accept as many low-income students from the San Francisco Bay Area into our direct-service College and Workforce Success Program as we can without compromising the quality and comprehensiveness of our program, which makes our 90% college completion rate possible.
    2. Leverage online technology to broaden the number of students served through the new SRA College2Careers Hub, thereby making SRA's expertise helping low-income youth succeed in college and career accessible for free throughout the U.S.
    3. Provide each student (whether online or in person) with the personalized and comprehensive services needed to succeed in college and the workforce.
    4. Strengthen our students' ability to compete in the 21st-century job market by providing opportunities to explore career options and expand career horizons; network with professionals; develop job readiness skills such as resume writing, interviewing and workplace etiquette through workshops and webinars; and gain work experience through internships.
    5. Leverage as much outside financial aid and scholarships as possible in order to keep SRA's direct per-student college costs down while enabling SRA students to complete college with as little student loan debt as possible.

    Projected Outcomes for the College and Workforce Program in 2017:
    • Increase the number of students served from 460 to 480
    • 100% of SRA's 12th graders will be accepted by at least one four-year college and 98%+ will enroll
    • 90% of our college students will persist in college or complete bachelor's degrees
    • 250 students will be placed in internships (10% increase over 2015)
    • 450+ students will gain workforce readiness via SRA's career development activities
    • 55% or fewer students will need to take out student loans
    • 85% of students will enter career-ladder jobs or graduate school within 12 mo. of college graduation

    Projected Outcomes for the online SRA College2Careers Hub:
    • Increase the number of individual SRA Hub users from 10,000 to 20,000 by December 2017
    • Increase the number of high schools using the SRA Hub from 45 to 60 fall 2017
    • 80 College Enrollment Rate for high school seniors using the SRA Hub
    • 70 First-Year College Persistence Rate for college freshman using the SRA Hub
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    Every student in our program receives 5 or more years of comprehensive, tailored services.

    Personalized Support. SRA matches each student with a professional Student Advisor and a caring volunteer adult Mentor who will be by his or her side every step of the way.

    Academic Support. SRA fosters high academic performance, making sure every high school student in the program passes all courses needed to meet college acceptance requirements, and providing tutors when necessary to maintain a GPA of 2.7 or higher.

    Health Services. SRA helps students navigate insurance and optimize insurance plans, and by connecting students to SRA's network of medical and dental services providers who are committed to providing our students with free or low-cost care.

    College Prep Workshops. SRA students attend a series of 7 workshops covering topics ranging from “how to select the right college to apply to," to “how to fill out the FAFSA application," to “what to expect during your first year in college."

    College Application and Enrollment. We help each student: a) match postsecondary programs with individual skills, interests, and values; b) complete competitive college applications; and c) successfully navigate the college enrollment process.

    Leveraging Financial Aid. SRA works one-on-one with students to prepare financial aid applications, negotiating competitive awards, and identify and apply for private scholarships. SRA then supplements awards to ensure that college costs are covered.

    Adjusting to College Life. SRA conducts “Off-to-College Seminars," and provides each student with a care package of dorm life essentials: laptop computer, printer, bedding and towels, school supplies, and climate appropriate clothing.

    Completing College. SRA Student Advisors and Mentors stay in contact with their students throughout their years in college, providing consistent support and encouragement, and identifying/troubleshooting problems before they escalate into crises.

    Transitioning to the Workplace. SRA provides individual and group support through career assessment, career development workshops, summer internship placements, and opportunities for professional networking, job shadowing, and informational interviewing.

    Online Support. The new SRA College2Careers Hub SRA is providing thousands more students across the U.S. with comprehensive and personalized college and career readiness support.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    Students Rising Above has over 18 years in the field of college preparation, access and completion. We have a successful track record and a program that outperforms all other college completion programs that we know of.

    SRA's 40-member staff is led by Executive Director, Lynne Martin, and Director of Student Programs, Barb Hendricks. Ms. Martin and Ms. Hendricks joined SRA over a decade ago, each bringing more than 25 years of experience in business administration and management. They were responsible for building SRA from a small, volunteer-run scholarship project into a broad-based 501c3 with one of the most success college completion programs around.

    SRA's program staff includes 4 career development specialists, a health care coordinator, mentor program coordinator, and 25 Student Advisors who come from a variety of professional backgrounds: teachers, lawyers, social services, etc. Together, they have decades of experience in social services and education programs for underserved youth. Many are themselves first generation college graduates and have first-hand experience with the challenges our students face.
    SRA's Board of Directors consists of 14 diverse and experienced individuals who bring a wealth of professional expertise in a variety of fields ranging from finance, to law, technology, business, and strategic planning. SRA has a team of 400 volunteers who provide thousands of hours annually to our organization. Volunteers fill a variety of roles: helping students with resumes and mock interviews; mentoring students; helping with special events and workshops; and providing transportation for students. SRA also works with a network of agencies and individuals.

    Finally, SRA has a network of over 30 community partners all working together to strengthen college readiness and completion for low-income youth. We work with these organizations on outreach to prospective students for our program as well as share resources for student services and best practices.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    College access and completion is a national problem. Multiple organizations, schools, businesses and government agencies must come together to alleviate the United State's diminishing leadership in higher education, especially as we move further into a global, knowledge-based economy.

    We measure our own progress by:
    1. Our ability to expand the number of low-income students we can send to college each year.
    2. The percentage of SRA students who complete their first year in college and enroll for a second year, compared to the national average for low-income, first-generation college students.
    3. The percentage of SRA students who complete bachelor degrees compared to the national average.
    4. The percentage of our college graduates who are able to find career-ladder employment within a year of college graduation compared to the national average for recent college graduates.
    5. The percentage of students in our program who are able to attend college without overly burdensome student loans.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    SRA continues to grow the number of students it can serve each year as well as the number of students it sends to college. In 2004 we were serving 135 students. In 2018, we are serving 10,460.

    Throughout our expansion, SRA has maintained the aggregate college completion rate of students in its College and Workforce Success Program at 90%. Nationally, between 56% and 58% of college students complete their degrees. For low-income students who are the first in their family to attend college (like those in SRA), the completion rate is between 11% and 34%.

    SRA was a pioneer in recognizing that it takes more than a tuition check for low-income youth to complete college. While many organizations in the region and around the country were focused on preparing low-income youth for college, SRA took on the difficult task of providing the wrap-around support needed to ensure these students could stay in college and graduate. We have seen progress in the national debate on college education, turning from a focus on access to realizing the importance of completion. President Obama recently called increasing the U.S.'s college graduation rate to 60% by 2020.

    In the San Francisco Bay Area, we are seeing college access organizations beginning to add services for their students after they begin college. We see this shift as validation of the work SRA have been doing for 15 years, and we welcome the change. It is an important step for the benefit of our country and future generations.

    Finally, SRA has made great strides in helping its college graduates enter career-ladder jobs. In the early 2000s, SRA college graduates were returning to their old neighborhoods and taking jobs that did not require a college education. This is not uncommon, especially in recent years as the United States continues to see an economic recovery that is largely jobless. According to a report, from the Center for College Affordability and Productivity published in January 2013, nearly half of the nation's recent college graduates were working in jobs that did not require a college education. (Though importantly, the same report concluded that college graduates—while underemployed—had a lower jobless rate than those without a college degree.)

    SRA decided to tackle its own college graduate underemployment in 2010 by adding a career development component to its program. We now provide our students with career coaching, job readiness workshops, internship placements, networking events, and job placement services for a full year after college graduate. As a result, we now see between 80% and 85% of SRA alum securing career-ladder jobs within 12 months of college graduation and another 5 - 10% each year entering graduate school.
Service Areas



Students Rising Above's College and Workforce Success Program serves students from throughout the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. The SRA College2Careers Hub supports students nation-wide.

Social Media


Funding Needs

Students Rising Above raises funds to support matriculating students for the 5-6 years it takes them to graduate. We provide our students with the added financial support required to attend and graduate from college and well as provide the basics of dorm living including a laptop, printer, bedding and linens.  Additionally, we have increased the number of students selected into our program by 75% over the past two years and are committed increasing the number of students selected each year.

Affiliations + Memberships

National College Access Network

National College Access Network

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Fiscal year: Jul 01-Jun 30
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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.




Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2014 and 2013
  • Board Chair, Board Co-Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
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Principal Officer

Mrs. Lynne Martin

Co Principal Officer

Ms. Barb Hendricks


Hired in 2004 as the first Executive Director of Students Rising Above, Lynne Martin brings a strong background in the business and philanthropic worlds. Prior to taking on the role of Executive Director, Lynne served on the organization?s Board of Directors and was Vice President of Corporate Services for an internet start-up, which was eventually sold to LexisNexis in December 2003. Previously, Lynne served for 13 years with the international search firm, Boyden, where she was one of only five women partners, and was responsible for developing and completing retained searches for senior executives for Fortune 100 companies. Lynne is a graduate of UC Berkeley, where she earned her B.A. in Economics, and she is an active volunteer in her community, having served on various educational, leadership, and philanthropic boards.



Mr. John Diserens

Intermodel Structures

Term: July 2015 - June 2017


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Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



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