Philanthropists Ann-Eve Hazen and Anaflor Smith founded First Graduate in 2000. Each year, the program recruits 30-40 new students from five San Francisco middle schools and provides mentoring, tutoring and counseling to the students and their families. First Graduate makes a 10-year commitment to each participant, beginning in 7th grade and continuing through four years of college. Students meet regularly with coaches and receive year-round academic instruction and support. Once in high school, First Graduate students get the assistance they need to prepare for standardized tests, visit and apply to colleges, and navigate financial aid and scholarship opportunities.
Improving college access for low-income youth is a cause that benefits not only the kids who go to college but also their families. The program exposes students to new opportunities and gives them the resources to succeed. At the same time, First Graduate can spawn a college-going tradition in families that might never have thought it possible.