Sunnyvale, CALIFORNIA — Following a successful launch year of its Board of Educators (BoE), Close the Gap Foundation today announced the extension and expansion of its advisory support with a renewed BoE, a new group of industry experts for the foundation's Board of Directors (BoD), and its first wellness advisor to influence the oversight and direction of the foundation's current and future initiatives.

Bringing diverse backgrounds, each member of the BoE and BoD provides a wealth of knowledge and experience to Close the Gap Foundation to actively shape the foundation's strategy for serving first-generation, low-income (FGLI) students, such as enhancing compliance practices and creating long-lasting student outcomes years after graduating from the Fellowship.

Entering its fourth year of operation, Close the Gap Foundation's commitment to leveraging community engagement continues to pay dividends. The annual Social Impact Fellowship – which has tripled its cohort size since inception – maintains its focus on structured mentorship and project-based learning as it returns this year with even richer guidance and impact thanks to the influence of the BoD and BoE, where each board member brings decades of combined experience in their respective field.

Along the foundation's journey to serve FGLI students with empathy and care, forming the BoE originated as a method for Close the Gap Foundation to enhance the mentor training process for its programs, which it successfully achieved through interactive workshops, educator panel discussions, and Q&A sessions on how to mentor with empathy.

Consequently, just as the foundation continues to evolve, so does the scope of the BoE. This term, the group will assume a broader and more impactful set of responsibilities. Serving as trusted advisors to shape Close the Gap Foundation's trajectory, board members will pulse-check program curriculum and admissions processes, and provide hands-on guidance to Fellows during the Social Impact Fellowship.

The makeup of BoE is a group of respected and diverse educators whose daily classroom experiences directly influence Close the Gap Foundation's program design. Meet Close the Gap Foundation's educators joining the BoE for a second term:

  • Darius Phelps, an elementary school teacher in New York City, New York
  • Jasmine Hobson Rodriguez, a high school teacher in Hesperia, California
  • Magret Nunes, an alternative education high school teacher in Danville, California
  • Rhonda Price, a high school counselor in Santa Fe, Texas

Jasmine Hobson Rodriguez, an eleventh-grade English teacher in Southern California and returning BoE member, reflects upon Close the Gap Foundation's distinct focus on the student impact.

What's valuable about programs like the summer fellowship is that students are building confidence when they're young, and they can go into the world and make it a better place. They'll know that with the right steps and right direction, they can do anything that they believe in. Jasmine Hobson Rodriguez, Board of Educators

Just as the BoE works to shape and inform program design with their in-classroom expertise, the BoD members also serve as trusted advisors. Their objective is to focus on scaling the foundation's operations with care, deepening corporate partnerships and facilitating donations like those from Airbnb and DoorDash, and improving the Fellow experience as organizational stewards.

Creating a multi-year roadmap to purposefully serve FGLI students requires validation and approval of operational and financial decisions. The BoD's experienced leaders, who bring a wealth of experience in developing business strategy, will continue to influence those decisions as Close the Gap Foundation expands its programs to invest in even more student success.

The following industry experts form Close the Gap Foundation's inaugural BoD group – nearly all of whom were either judge panelists for last year’s Social Impact Fellowship pitch day, donors, or speakers at the foundation’s previous events:

"The evolution of Close the Gap Foundation is astounding. Witnessing the organization grow from my time as a founding board member with the two co-founders, Tai and Jessie, to where it is now in its journey to empower youth shows that there are no limits to the organization's impact. The help of thoughtful leaders like Naomi and Sushma joining our board and the entire returning panel of dedicated educators extending their service another year makes me very excited for what's to come. Sonia Sng, Board of Directors

Furthering its concerted effort to scale its programs with care, Close the Gap Foundation has doubled down on fostering mental wellness by welcoming Kiki Vo as a board advisor. Kiki is a wellness coach with a mission to inspire trauma survivors to thrive, and since 2021 has contributed to Close the Gap Foundation through individual pro-bono mental wellness coaching services for Fellows. In bringing Kiki on board as an official advisor, Close the Gap Foundation builds wellness into the fabric of its programs.

Year over year, Close the Gap Foundation strives to improve the program experience of its Fellows, mentors, and volunteers. Embedding deep knowledge of education systems and organizational best practices sets the 2022 program year on a path towards longevity with a lasting impact for years to come.

To express interest in joining next year’s Board of Educators or Board of Directors and stay in touch with Close the Gap Foundation, send a note to

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:

To learn more about our Board of Educators and Board of Directors, visit:

To partner with Close the Gap Foundation, inquire at: