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 PSLA realized 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?
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!
YOUR REFERRAL IS THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT, IF YOU ARE SO MOVED OR INSPIRED, WE WOULD LOVE YOU TO SHARE AND INSPIRE ANOTHER.
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