Upward Scholars
Upward Scholars’ mission is to provide adult immigrants the boost they need to move up the economic ladder through education and career development support.
$123,606.58 thru October 2022
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In 2020 we wanted to raise $100,000 in donations. So we did.. from November until the end of 2020, we raised nearly $150,000. Not only did we meet that really high, lofty goal for our organization, but we almost tripled the donations that we brought in the year before. Donorbox has been a really great tool for us to use. We include the donation link on our social media, and people can have quick access to the Donation Page outside of our website, also in our traditional newsletter. It’s very easy to use.

Tell us about Upward Scholars.

Upward Scholars is the only 501(c)(3) nonprofit in the Bay Area providing financial, academic, and career development support to adults struggling with economic hardship so they can transition from adult schools to community colleges and attend college part-time. As a result of our work, students continue their education, get higher-paying jobs, and serve as role models and advocates for their children and our community. While some immigrants arrive with education and economic privilege, the vast majority do not. Many have no choice but to work multiple low-wage jobs, putting their educational and career aspirations aside in order to survive and support their families. They are blocked from opportunity because they cannot access formal education and master English.

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Tell us about the inspiration behind the Upward Scholars.

The impetus for the organization came from our founder, Elizabeth Weal, a longtime ESL teacher at Sequoia Adult School, who observed that upon graduating from the Adult School, many students were languishing in low-paying jobs rather than taking advantage of the vast ESL and other class offerings available at nearby Cañada College. Thanks to initial partnerships with Sequoia District Adult School and Cañada College and the work of an active and committed board of directors, Upward Scholars has been increasing the breadth and depth of its support ever since.

Upward Scholars provided its first scholarships in fall 2010 to two ESL students transitioning from adult school to community college. This spring we're supporting more than 280!

Can you tell us more about your programs?

We offer Academic Support. Through our Tutoring Program, English Conversation Club, and English Conversation Partner Program, we engage the community in the academic growth and development of students.

Career development: Our MoveUp Initiative gives students the boost they need to move up the economic ladder through education and career development support. The MoveUp Initiative currently includes three programs, with more in development. And, financial support - we provide students with textbooks (costing several hundred dollars per semester), transportation (clipper transit cards for students), laptops, food vouchers.

Find the impact report here and our COVID impact stories here.

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Has Donorbox helped you increase online donations?

Yes, we've increased online donations since we started using Donorbox. Typically at the year-end appeal, we raised $30,000 - $50,000. In 2020, we wanted to raise $100,000. Let’s double that. High-pie the sky - a really big goal for us as a small nonprofit. I think the Board was a little weary but said ‘OK, go for it!’.

So we did. From November until the end of 2020, we raised nearly $150,000. So, not only did we meet that really high, lofty goal, but almost tripled the money that we brought in the year before.

What are the most useful aspects of Donorbox for you?

Whenever there is a campaign, we are easily able to send the donation URL over to the Board and have them forward it to their friends. It’s very easy for us to incorporate it into our monthly newsletter and send that out to all of our partners. There are many ways in which people can give online, whatever their preference might be - debit or credit card, PayPal, Apple pay, Google pay - this is super helpful.

There’s also a segment of our donors who have always given via a more traditional way, whether that’s a personal check or from a donor-advised fund. So the fact that Donorbox has the functionality to allow us to enter offline donations that are associated with the same campaign has been great.

I personally love the integration piece to Salesforce.

I’m also a fan of the progress bar (fundraising thermometer) myself. I like being able to say to people that I have a goal to raise $100,000. And on any given day, they can check to see how close we are to that goal. In the case of our Safety Net Funds Campaign last year, we could see when we had surpassed that goal. That also encourages how much our donors are willing to give.

Do you have any other insights about Donorbox you’d want to share?

Donorbox has been a really great tool for us to use. People can be located anywhere across the world and be able to access it, which also helps. We can include it in our social media, and people can have access to it (the Donation Page/Button) outside of our website, our traditional newsletter, and it’s pretty easy in that way as well.

What’s the next milestone for Upwards Scholars?

This summer we begin to lay out our next phase of scaling... beyond San Mateo County! Goal to implement by Spring 2022! We have a 3-year Strategic Plan, you can see the executive summary here.

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Customer reviews and testimonials

Clint Smith

Donorbox has been instrumental in facilitating our online donations. With seamless integration into our website and easy to use features and functionality, we have been extremely pleased as an organization and would recommend Donorbox to any non profit organization looking to streamline campaign efforts.

Austin Meadows

Donorbox hit everything we were required in our fundraising software, plus your platform incorporated features we asked for in our early discussions. Now we are seeing everything we wanted and these modifications are more ice cream on the pie.


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