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Learning Lab Ventures

Last December, I was at a friend’s holiday party and sat next to this amazing woman and we started to chat about philanthropy. The holiday celebration ended and we vowed to continue the lively conversation another time. So, two weeks ago we reconnected to continue the conversation, six months later.  The young woman I met was named Rochelle Gore Fredston and her philanthropic journey was and is inspiring. The last time we met, Rochelle was the mother of two little girls and when we sat down two weeks ago she beamed as we discussed the pending new addition her family.

Rochelle and I discussed how she got into the nonprofit world and the journey she has been on with her incredible work to break the cycle of generational poverty. She is the founder of  the Philanthropic Society of Los Angeles (PSLA) and more recently has taken over Learning Lab Ventures, a nonprofit that is an intensive after school and educational enrichment program that turns underserved students into college graduates. I have to say after our conversation it is official…. Rochelle is truly beautiful inside and out and her passion for making a difference is an inspiration to us all. I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did!

charity matters: Tell us a little about your back round and your journey into the nonprofit world?

Rochelle Gores Fredston: My dad came to the United States with very little and worked extremely hard. He taught us that we had to work hard and do better, not just for ourselves but for others. Some my earliest memories were feeding the homeless, as young children in Michigan, where we grew up. My brother has Cerebral Palsy and we were all raised to be involved and supportive of one another and our community.

charity matters: how did you begin the Philanthropic society of los angeles?

Rochelle Gore Fredston: After college, I was moving to Los Angeles and I reached out to a family friend and said that I wanted to get involved in something philanthropic in LA.  Our friend connected me with the Children’s Institute, which is a great organization that provides mental health training and head start programs to over 20,000 children in Los Angeles. At the time I was in my twenties and the group at Children’s Institute was mainly people in their forties and fifties,  so I wanted to get some of my friends involved.

I owned a boutique and have always loved fashion, so I thought it would be fun to have a fantastic fashion show and involve a big group of millineals. I realized that my friends really wanted to do something but didn’t know how to start. So we created a group called PSLA to raise funds and support Children’s Institute. For eight years we very successfully raised funds with our events and each year our PSLA group of about seventy-five was giving their funding to educational projects for the Children’s Institute. We even created a family fund to help families with specific needs.

charity matters: so how did you get from the PSLA to Learning Lab Ventures?

Rochelle Gore Fredston: After eight amazing years with great success, our group at PSLrealized that they still wanted to do more to support education, especially for at risk youth. So we began to explore the idea of funding another organization that was in need but also that had a great success rate. So as fate would have it, in 2017 we connected with Hathaway-Sycamores who were running an after school educational program and they asked if we wanted to take over? That program was Learning Lab and now Learning Lab Ventures.

Charity Matters: tell us about learning lab ventures?

Rochelle Gore Fredston: Learning Lab was founded in 1982 by an amazing man named Simon Gee whose passion is tutoring and mentoring students. Today we still follow the incredible work that our founder began and have built upon his foundation. Our mission is to disrupt generational poverty via an intensive after schools education and enrichment program. We aim to enable underrepresented students to graduate from top colleges equipped with a college degree, skills and experience they need to excel in the workforce and beyond.

charity matters: Tell us about some of your success at learning lab ventures?

Rochelle Gore Fredston: At LLV we take students from age three all the way until their first job out of college. We have 100% high school graduation rate and 95% of our students go to a four year college with scholarships. We have students at Harvard, Ivy League’s and incredible four year colleges. We provide our students with mentors and our hope is to eliminate all the red tape to get them through school and into their first job.

We have focused on our core, education, which is what we do well.  With LLV we have taken an old nonprofit and made it better with great partnerships and resources.

charity matters: How has this journey in philanthropy changed you and what have you learned about yourself from your work in serving others?
Rochelle Gore Fredston: When I began this journey, I was newly married and getting involved in Los Angeles. Over the past decade I have committed myself to helping the most at risk youth in LA, and during this time I also had two beautiful girls. Having children of my own has made this a very personal mission for me and I am grateful that I am able to give back in a meaningful way.
charity matters:

Thank you Rochelle for  your extraordinary commitment to breaking the generational cycle of poverty through education. You told us,”I grew up to do better. Education is how we can do better and it is my job to help them do better.”  Thank you for inspiring us all to do better and be better!

 

charity matters
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The gift of connection

“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.”

Mark Twain

For the past few years I have been very involved with my alma mater, an all girls Catholic school, that I was lucky to attend.  A place that taught me “Actions not words” and the meaning of service. Anyone who has high school age children knows that the cost of education, along with everything else these days continues to rise. As a result, families often have to make difficult financial choices about their children’s high school education. A number of schools, including the one I attended, recognize these obstacles and create a way to support families while giving alumni the gift of connection.

For me,  it means that there is one student that I have had the privilege of getting to know the past four years. I have to admit that”my student” is adorable, smart, articulate and full of joy. Yes, I’m totally biased and unfortunately cannot take any responsibility for this. Lucky for me,  this past week we had the opportunity to sit down and catch up at a dinner the school arranged.

As the two of us chatted about school, college apps, boys, soccer and prom I couldn’t help but feel so proud and excited for this remarkable young lady. Her future is so bright and she has the whole world ahead of her. How blessed am I to have the opportunity to know her, watch her grow and share our mutual love of  a school that shaped up us both? The connection, a gift to treasure.

It is easy to think of giving as a strain, a burden, or a sacrifice but in reality giving is a privilege. As Mark Twain said, “To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with.”

 

Charity Matters.

 

Sharing is caring, if you are so moved or inspired, we would love you to share this to inspire another.

Copyright © 2018 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

What Matters?

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

Mark Twain

Education Matters. Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2012 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Reading Partners

Last week, I had the great fortune to be introduced to an amazing non-profit called Reading Partners. If you are reading this post right now, you are blessed. There are thousands of young children across our country that are not so lucky.

However, it just takes a few people to care about something enough to take action. In 1999, Mary Wright Shaw, Molly McCrory and Jean Bacigalupi saw their neighborhood school in need and launched a reading  program at Belle Haven Elementary School in Menlo Park.  These women saw children that needed help and decided to make a difference. They took their skills as teachers, mothers and entrepreneurs and mobilized a community to join them.

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Today, many states count prison beds based on illiteracy numbers. That is just so wrong.  Rather than being reactive Reading Partners is proactive to get in there and simply:

  • Focus on children from low-income communities.
  • Give one-on-one instruction at the student’s reading level.
  • Recruit and train community volunteers to work with children.
  • Partner with high-need elementary schools to offer an effective program on campus.
  • Provide a way for volunteers to give a small amount of their time to make a huge difference in a child’s life.

Their goal is to help children become lifelong readers by empowering communities to provide individualized instruction and get results. These three women started out with one school and today Reading Partners has over 3,000 volunteers in 65 schools in 5 states…all because a few women cared about their community and committed to making it better.

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2012 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Back to School Promise

As most of us are preparing in one way or another for back to school, the smell of fresh pencils and the endless possibilities that a new piece of paper brings. That excitement is sadly not a reality for all.

Currently, 1 out of 4 of High School Students in the United States are dropping out of school. As I heard this terrible statistic  I ran across a man who regardless of politics has really made a difference and continues to reach out to our youth, General Colin Powell. He is a reminder that one person can make a difference and that our children all deserve America’sPromise.org

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So as you pack up the backpacks remember the 1.3 million students that won’t finish school this year. Renew your own promise to education and remember the power of one.

Copyright © 2011 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.