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The mission of San Francisco Achievers is to reduce the achievement gap of African American young men in San Francisco high schools through support, mentoring, and college scholarships.
Dr. Henry Safrit, who created Meritus College Fund, founded San Francisco Achievers in 2008 to reduce the achievement and social gaps of at-risk Black males from San Francisco public school after observing that they were missing out on college because they didn’t qualify for most scholarships - only 5-6% had GPAs high enough to be considered college material. Furthermore, studies show that Black males make up just 5.5% of all college students and only one in six graduates. Yet, without a college degree, the career choices and possibilities for these young men are extremely limited. Achievers addresses these inequalities by providing the college scholarships and individual support at-risk Black males from San Francisco public schools need to promote positive life outcomes for themselves, the community and the nation.
Many at-risk San Francisco Achievers African American male high school seniors face barriers to college access and success. They have grappled with dysfunctional family life, low expectations, and limited academic guidance. Nearly 60% of the young men have experienced homelessness, foster care, parental incarceration
and/or violent environments. Because of economic and societal pressures, some members in this cohort never imagined that they could attend college, until San Francisco Achievers approached the Black male students with the offer to provide a college scholarship and support if they achieved a 2.5 GPA by high school graduation.
Achievers awards students with at least a 2.5 GPA, upon high school graduation a college scholarship worth $3000/year for four years for a student attending a four-year college. ($1500/year scholarship for a student attending community college that increases to the full amount when the student transfers to a four year college). Student progress is closely monitored and mentors are encouraged to reach out to students early and often with the goal to increase the likelihood that African American males will attend college and graduate.
Since its founding, Achievers has provided 92 college scholarships, funded by individual donors. The retention rate in our college program is 68%, well above the national average of 23% for similar students. San Francisco Achievers currently serves 105 Black students in the college and high school programs. The San Francisco Unified School District hails the Achiever program as a significant partner in its efforts to close the achievement gap, which, according to the former superintendent, is the single greatest social justice issue facing our nation today.
In July 2011, SF Achievers became a fully-formed 501(c)(3) organization - including an experienced Board of Directors made up of teachers, counselors, administrators and members of the business, medical, legal, and non-profit communities