SUNNYVALE, August 30, 2021 – Today, Close the Gap Foundation announced its partnership with Forbes 30 Under 30 to launch a national mentorship program. The Forbes Under 30 Circles connect Forbes 30 Under 30 Listers with first-generation, low-income (FGLI) high school and college students looking to expand their networks and their definition of success.
This inaugural Forbes Under 30 Mentorship Circles program is the largest ever launched by Close the Gap Foundation to date. After reaching out to Educational Opportunity Programs (EOPs) and Advanced Via Individual Determination (AVID) chapters across the country, over 300 students applied.
Hailing from 19 states, 100% of the admitted students identify as first-generation, with 97% of students qualifying for Pell Grant or free/reduced lunch. These students also represent a diverse range of backgrounds and perspectives – 98% identify as BIPOC, with 61% identifying as African-American/Black, Latinx, and/or Indigenous.
“This program has been a year in the making. I know from experience that it is difficult for FGLI students to imagine themselves on an Under 30 list. This is why this partnership is a particularly powerful way to tackle the network gap – by connecting with someone recognized for their resilience and unique innovations, they can better visualize their own unique path to success.” –Tai Tran, co-founder and president at Close the Gap Foundation and a Forbes 30 Under 30 Lister
These 30 cohorts, or mentoring circles, led by Forbes 30 Under 30 listers spent their monthly meetings tackling topics ranging from inclusion in the workplace to career pivots. Resources from Close the Gap Foundation’s flagship Social Impact Fellowship were made available to mentors to help ground their meetings.
“As a first-generation college student who journeyed from rural China to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, I understand how essential it is to be connected to a network of peers and mentors with similar backgrounds. I am so glad to be part of this program offered by Forbes and Close the Gap Foundation to mentor other students with similar backgrounds,” reflected Xiangkun (Elvis) Cao, 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 Lister and program mentor.
These sentiments were mirrored by the students who overwhelmingly reported feelings of optimism, gratitude, connection, and enthusiasm about the ways their mentors and peers will inspire their next steps.
“It’s so great having a mentor, someone that can guide us and help us. Not many students can have access to something as special as this, and I truly appreciate it,” commented Michelle T., a program’s mentee and high school student from California.
This program was a natural extension of Forbes 30 Under 30’s recent work establishing alumni boards for its listers including a Social Impact board headed by Alexandra Wilson, editor at Forbes and the Under 30 community.
“After Tai joined our Forbes Under 30 Social Impact Board, I immediately saw the synergy between Close the Gap Foundation’s programs and the Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Impact board’s mission. Working to bridge the network gap is a perfect way for our listers to pay it forward and make an impact.” –Alexandra Wilson, editor at Forbes and the Under 30 community
This partnership with Forbes is an exciting first for Close the Gap Foundation as it continues to expand the ways through which it works to close network and opportunity gaps for students.
"Partnerships like the one we have built with Forbes and the 30 Under 30 community open up so many doors for our students. We at Close the Gap Foundation are thrilled to launch a program that sparks connection between first-gen, low-income students and Forbes 30 Under 30's inspiring entrepreneurs and innovators," noted Mary King, Under 30 Mentorship Circles Program Lead.
The inaugural Close the Gap Foundation and Forbes 30 Under 30 Mentorship Circles program wrapped last week. The partners aim to launch the second program in early 2022.
Mentors for the inaugural Forbes Under 30 Circles program include:
Karim Abouelnaga (Practice Makes Perfect), Gaurav Aggarwal (Sleek), Jason Bellet (Eko), Renji Bijoy(Immersed), Xiangkun (Elvis) Cao (Cornell University | C2X), Keely Cat-Wells (C Talent), Faith Couch (Faith Couch Photography), Jessica David (Intel Corporation), Phil De Luna (National Research Council), Edward Christopher "Chris" Dee (Harvard Medical/Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center), Julia Gonski (Columbia University), Emory Irpan (Unity Technologies), Emma Kalayjian (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory), Dan Leyva (Wings Over), Adele McClure (Virginia Legislative Black Caucus), Amobi Okugo (Frugal Athlete LLC), Adam Oxner (MySwimPro), Katia Paramonova (Centrly), Ben Parr (Octane AI), Michael Roytman (Kenna Security), Kate Ruda (Nike | Brunch x Burn), Alexander Schwarzkopf (pillar.tech), Saniya Shah (Pilota), Dave Silver (REC Philly), Alex Sternlitch (Forbes), Elise Strobach (AeroShield Materials, Inc.), Tai Tran (Close the Gap Foundation), Samantha Vazquez (SV Productions), Khristina Williams (Girls Talk Sports TV), Alex Wilson (Forbes), Johnny Wong (Operam), Jordynn Wynn (INH Hair), Scott Xiao (Luminopia), Zhenghua Yang (Serenity Forge), and You Zhou (University of Maryland College Park).
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.
To learn more about Close the Gap Foundation, visit www.closethegapfoundation.org.
To learn more about the Forbes x Close the Gap Foundation Mentorship Circles Program, visit https://www.closethegapfoundation.org/program/forbes-30-under-30.
To learn more about their annual Social Impact Fellowship Program, visit www.closethegapfoundation.org/fellowship.
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