Empowering Youth Luncheon Inspires

College Success Foundation Alumnus Kris knows what it’s like to be completely alone in this world. But the cards that were stacked against him also fueled his drive to be successful.

“CSF assured me that obtaining a college degree is more than possible, and that no matter what we went through, we can make an impact in our communities, government, and nation,” he said.

Over 700 guests including college presidents, legislators and civic leaders unanimously rose to their feet in a standing ovation after Kris shared his inspiring story at the annual Empowering Youth Luncheon on October 9. The event at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel raised nearly $400,000 to help CSF provide the supports needed for low-income students to graduate from college. Read more about Kris’s story and watch the video of his moving remarks.

CSF Alumnus Riley emceed the event, encouraging attendees to be an ambassador for CSF and the students we serve. Guests remembered their college days and enjoyed “elevated” college fare while engaging in thoughtful discussion about some of the many obstacles low-income students face on their path to college graduation, like wondering if they belong in college.

“Finishing college is the end goal, no matter what,” said Naloni, our student speaker.

A first-year CSF scholar at University of Puget Sound, Naloni expressed her gratitude for Melody Rodriguez, her CSF advisor at Mt. Tahoma High School in Tacoma, who helped her research colleges, access scholarships and write college essays. Melody also provided valuable advice on selecting the right college and stability within a hectic academic setting in high school.

“One great benefit of being in the high school program with CSF was the safe space it provided me to make friends, study, and talk about my life and feelings,” Naloni said. Read more about Naloni’s story.

James Dorsey, CSF’s new president and CEO, talked about how he relates to CSF Scholars through his personal story. He grew up in Compton, Calif., which is one of the lowest performing educational systems in the nation. While he didn’t feel like college material, he is a rare example of someone who graduated from college because of support and mentoring from a family friend. However, others he grew up with never did because there was no program like CSF at his school or in his community. He ended by explaining how CSF aligns with his passion for breaking the poverty cycle and how guests can continue to help low-income students.

Justice Bobbe Bridge was honored with the Distinguished Service Award for inspiring low-income students to finish high school and complete college through excellent leadership, meaningful innovation, and personal engagement. As a champion for foster youth, Justice Bridge has devoted her life and career to shaping a brighter future for underserved children. She has been a staunch supporter of the role CSF plays in creating pathways out of poverty and has been a generous supporter of our scholarship program since day one.

CSF’s retired “scholarship expert” Barry Goren was honored with the Spirit of Philanthropy Award for his exceptional commitment to improving the lives of low-income students through meaningful philanthropy helping students realize a college degree. His deep connections with the community and tireless enthusiasm for helping underserved youth helped raise over $12 million dollars for scholarships. Because of his mentorship and support, thousands of students have completed their degrees and launched successful careers.

If you were not able to attend the event and haven’t yet had the chance to contribute, it’s not too late! Please help CSF continue to help students like Kris and Naloni by making a donation on our website.

View select photos of the event below.

View more photos of this inspiring event.