Sunnyvale, CALIFORNIA — Earlier this month, Close the Gap Foundation launched its fourth annual Social Impact Fellowship program. 32 first-generation, low-income high school students from 15+ cities across California and Washington gathered with their mentors and program leaders to kick off their three-month program experience.
The Fellowship leverages project-based learning, structured mentorship, and tailored workshops to help rising 11th and 12th-grade students recognize and embrace their potential through the planning, executing, and presenting a social impact project to better their communities.
Programs like the Fellowship are essential for addressing the opportunity and network gaps that persist for first-generation, low-income students. Studies continue to showcase the inequitable access FGLI students have to the “hidden curriculum” of internships, practical skills, and networking needed to successfully leverage college into a career.
A recent analysis of the National Survey of Student Engagement — a survey of more than 55,000 undergraduates at 91 U.S. institutions — concluded that first-generation students are less likely to participate in social-capital building activities and less likely to hold internships, both of which are linked to higher confidence in workplace skills.
In the face of a job market that is devaluing GPA and emphasizing internships to the detriment of FGLI students, Close the Gap Foundation’s innovative approach of leveraging mentorship and virtual community building to guide students through what is often their first experience running a project from inception to close is invaluable.
Preparing students for the demands and challenges of producing their social impact project takes the right resources and support. In addition to individual mentors, learning guides, and community support, this year’s Fellows will also have donated access to a library of premium digital tools to support productivity, project management, and writing.
Productivity with Notion
Notion has long been the home of Close the Gap Foundation’s operations, but this year, students will have elevated access so they can fully engage with the program resources and build and organize their project documents.
“Notion believes that every organization and individual should be able to tailor their software tools to drive their work, and we have found Notion a great home for our organization and the fellowship program. We look forward to witnessing how our fellows will utilize Notion to access resources and collaborate as a community this summer.” - Jessie Salas, Co-Founder, Close the Gap Foundation
Project Management with ClickUp
We have seen time and again that project planning and time management are particularly challenging for our Fellows who are developing and executing projects of added depth, scale, and complexity for the first time. With ClickUp, this year’s students can utilize a breadth of templates and resources that will also help mentors track and support their progress.
“ClickUp’s mission is to save people time by making the world more productive, and providing the scaffolding to help Close the Gap Foundation’s first-generation, low-income students organize their social impact projects and better their communities is an incredibly meaningful application of their mission and product.” - Mary King, Partnerships Manager, Close the Gap Foundation
Writing and Grammar with ProWritingAid
Many of our first-generation, low-income Fellows are English language learners or the sole member of their family who is English speaking. ProWritingAid provides Fellows an active learning and editing tool that will help build their confidence and skill as well as refine the written components of their projects.
At ProWritingAid, we believe everyone has something important to say and the right to say it well. We are delighted to offer free ProWritingAid subscriptions to Close the Gap's participants. By using the software, the students will build their understanding of good writing and editing techniques so they can share their ideas more clearly. We can't wait to hear their stories. - Lisa Lepki, Chief Marketing Officer, ProWritingAid
Not only are these tools helpful for the duration of the Fellowship, but as the world continues to pivot and adapt to virtual work, gaining familiarity with these digital tools common in many workplaces works as another lever in addressing the opportunity gap.
Guiding the Fellows throughout the program as they learn new skills, utilize new products and tools, and manage their social impact projects are their mentors. This year’s mentors hail from 9 states, represent industries ranging from academic, accounting, education, finance, and technology, and work for a variety of major employers and well-known companies including Stanford, Ernst and Young, KPMG, Deloitte, Instacart, LinkedIn, Meta, Google, Apple, Netflix, and Visa. Collectively, the mentors serve as an invaluable foundation for the first-generation, low-income Fellows to begin closing their own network gap.
Close the Gap Foundation’s fourth annual Social Impact Fellowship will culminate on September 18 with Pitch Day, an opportunity for Fellows to showcase their social impact projects to a panel of industry leaders and earn coveted Growth Mindset scholarships. Many Fellows spend weeks rehearsing their presentations with their mentors, ensuring that they end the program with valuable public speaking experience.
The Fellowship runs from June to September 2022. Fellows will present their final social impact project to a panel of industry leaders during Pitch Day with the top project receiving the coveted $1,000 Growth-Mindset Scholarship.
About Close the Gap Foundation
Close the Gap Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Sunnyvale, California. Founded with the vision to create an equitable future without opportunity gaps for low-income youths, Close the Gap Foundation works to empower first-gen, low-income students to build lifelong confidence and reach their fullest potential. Close the Gap Foundation Close the Gap Foundation’s President and co-founder, Tai Tran, has been recognized as a Forbes 30 Under 30 and LinkedIn Top Voice.
Close the Gap Foundation’s flagship program, the Social Impact Fellowship, is a three-month all-expenses-paid program that helps first-generation, low-income high school students find mentors, grow their confidence, and give back. Through structured mentorship and project-based learning, Fellows work with mentors from renowned organizations like Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and UCSF to tackle a self-directed social impact project to pitch to a panel of industry leaders.
To learn more about Close the Gap Foundation, visit www.closethegapfoundation.org.
To learn more about the annual Social Impact Fellowship Program, visit www.closethegapfoundation.org/program/fellowship.
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