An opportunity to go to college can change everything. But for many students, this opportunity is never guaranteed.

Reality Changers knows this to be true. Since the nonprofit organization’s founding in 2001, it has helped thousands of local young people prepare for college.

A Pathway to Success

At Reality Changers, it is the organization’s mission to prepare youth to become first-generation college graduates and agents of change in their communities. The nonprofit organization has helped thousands across the region prepare for college and are strong partners with the San Diego Foundation (SDF) Community Scholars Initiative.

As part of the SDF 2022 Annual Report to Community virtual event, Reality Changers was recognized with a 2022 Inspire & Enable Award for its immense impact and hard work to put students on the pathway to a successful collegiate career.

This past year, Reality Changers has served more than 1,400 young people. More than 140 of them were high school seniors that have since started their first semester of college.

Wendy’s Story

During her virtual Inspire & Enable Award acceptance speech, Reality Changers President & CEO Tamara Craver shared the story of one student’s success – Wendy. Wendy joined the program as a sophomore in 2019 after she struggled in school and even failed a class.

“At Reality Changers, Wendy received free tutoring and mentorship. She connected with a community of peers and adults who all wanted to help her succeed,” Craver said. “She calls this community her ‘second family.’”

Craver said Wendy never failed a class again. She has since graduated high school and moved on to begin college at University of California Irvine, with hopes of becoming a teacher herself.

First-Generation Futures

Reality Changer’s work with students starts in the 8th grade through college readiness programs, professional development and mentorship. This guidance helps students from historically underrepresented backgrounds graduate high school, get into and afford college, graduate and later launch their careers.

This important work not only advances education equity on college campuses, but also builds equity for families and neighborhoods. The hope is that Reality Changers alumni will create change in their local communities.

Most recently, Reality Changer’s hard work is part of what made a record-breaking scholarship year at San Diego Foundation possible. In the past, SDF has granted out funds to Reality Changers for scholarships and Level Up SD summer camps.

Craver has also previously spoken with SDF about the importance of increasing representation and achievement for Black San Diegans. Read more from that conversation on the SDF blog.