SF Achievers is a community-based non-profit organization providing college scholarships and mentoring services to African-American male high school students in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). The mission of San Francisco Achievers is to reduce the achievement gap of African American young men in San Francisco high schools through support, mentoring, and college scholarships.
SF Achievers provides a holistic approach to serving the needs of Black male students in San Francisco. Currently, we offer the following programs to support students and help them gain the skills needed to compete in today’s competitive academic and social environments.
High School Support Program
The High School Support Program offers four-year academic enrichment to students beginning in their freshman year. The program is designed to engage the students with members of the business, professional, academic, and local community to learn practical life-forming skills needed to succeed in a variety of settings. The program is also designed to create and establish a brotherhood environment in which the students are able to confine in the SFA Staff and their peers. This component of the program helps to support the students both socially and emotionally.
The College Program is currently open to eligible African-American male students within any San Francisco school, awards scholarships to those with a GPA of at least 2.5 and can demonstrate financial need on a yearly competitive basis. In addition to receiving a scholarship, each accepted applicant will be matched with a mentor to help be the support system they need throughout their college career. Lastly, thanks to a partnership with the Mayor’s office, each scholar will be placed into a summer internship for the course of 6 weeks to gain on the job skills from different sectors and departments of the City.
In addition, SF Achievers provides the following resources:
- Field Trips Scheduled visits to local, cultural, and community events, including a 7 day over-night outdoor trip to Yosemite National Park.
- Mentoring Program Mentoring and tutoring help for program participants to assist with the goal of graduating high school and becoming empowered for the future.
- Beginning and End of Year Dinners Dinner and awards ceremony for students, families, tutors, and school faculty to kick-off the year and celebrate the end-of-year achievements.
- Individual Sessions Individualized meetings with students and their parents (or guardian) to help foster participation and academic program success.
- Summer School Program Specialized assistance for students who need extra help completing coursework and other requirements for graduation.
Dr. Henry Safrit, who created Meritus College Fund, founded San Francisco Achievers in 2008 to reduce the achievement and social gaps of at-risk Black males from San Francisco public school after observing that they were missing out on college because they didn’t qualify for most scholarships – only 5-6% had GPAs high enough to be considered college material. Furthermore, studies show that Black males make up just 5.5% of all college students and only one in six graduates. Yet, without a college degree, the career choices and possibilities for these young men are extremely limited. Achievers addresses these inequalities by providing the college scholarships and individual support at-risk Black males from San Francisco public schools need to promote positive life outcomes for themselves, the community and the nation.
Many at-risk San Francisco Achievers African American male high school seniors face barriers to college access and success. They have grappled with dysfunctional family life, low expectations, and limited academic guidance. Nearly 60% of the young men have experienced homelessness, foster care, parental incarceration and/or violent environments. Because of economic and societal pressures, some members in this cohort never imagined that they could attend college, until San Francisco Achievers approached the Black male students with the offer to provide a college scholarship and support if they achieved a 2.5 GPA by high school graduation.
Achievers awards students with at least a 2.5 GPA, upon high school graduation a college scholarship worth $3000/year for four years for a student attending a four-year college. ($1500/year scholarship for a student attending community college that increases to the full amount when the student transfers to a four year college). Student progress is closely monitored and mentors are encouraged to reach out to students early and often with the goal to increase the likelihood that African American males will attend college and graduate.
Since its founding, Achievers has provided 188 college scholarships, funded by individual donors. The retention rate in our college program is 68%, well above the national average of 23% for similar students. San Francisco Achievers currently serves 200+ Black students in the college and high school programs. The San Francisco Unified School District hails the Achiever program as a significant partner in its efforts to close the achievement gap, which, according to the former superintendent, is the single greatest social justice issue facing our nation today.
In July 2011, SF Achievers became a fully-formed 501(c)(3) organization – including an experienced Board of Directors made up of teachers, counselors, administrators and members of the business, medical, legal, and non-profit communities.