Capital Region Sponsor-A-Scholar has a 24-year history of working with low-income youth in the Albany, Schenectady, and Troy City School Districts in the Capital Region of New York. Our organization was founded on the belief that post-secondary education is the gateway to financial security and personal achievement. Higher education attainment rates among low-to moderate-income, first-generation-to-college students tend to fall below those of their more financially secure peers. Through our unique blend of individualized guidance, long-term mentoring, and financial support, our program breaks down systemic barriers and gives students the power to decide their futures.
Students begin their journey in our Pathways to College program that provides personalized academic support beginning in 10th grade. We help to build a strong academic, emotional, and financial foundation by offering activities such as mandatory weekly after-school sessions with access to tutors in four subjects and skill-building workshops on a variety of topics; college campus tours; fees covered for college-level courses in high school; SAT fees and prep classes; career awareness activities; assistance with college applications, financial aid forms, and scholarship applications; and one-on-one mentoring.
Once Scholars graduate from high school, continued support is provided through our College Success program. Scholars receive individualized guidance through biannual meetings; help with networking, resume building, and interviewing skills; access to internship opportunities; and a $750 stipend at the end of every semester to pay for books, transportation, or other college-related expenses.
Throughout both programs, each Scholar works with a supportive adult who serves as a role model, advocate, and cheerleader. A mentor opens doors to new social, cultural, and educational experiences and provides professional networks for students. Mentors are an integral part of our students’ success increasing their chance of graduating from high school, completing college, and becoming economically self-sufficient.
As a private nonprofit organization, we depend on the generosity of our individual, corporate, and foundation donors. We strive to be good stewards of our supporters’ contributions. Having a good Charity Navigator rating shows the community that we are continuously trying to ensure that we are true to our mission and are transparent about our operations. Building trust and maintaining relationships with donors is a key factor in an organization’s sustainability.
The fall season, leading up to December is a very important time for us not only from a fundraising standpoint but from a programmatic one as well. With September marking the beginning of the school year, this is when we get to know our newest students in the program and welcome back the others. In November, we celebrate First Generation Student Day and the significant factors that can affect a student’s success. All this leads into December, which is traditionally when fundraising programs request year-end gifts. It is no different with our organization. Utilizing the stories of how our programs are transforming lives, we illustrate the importance of the work we are doing and the deep impact a donor can have on the lives of the students, their families, and the entire community.
Written by Laura Marx, President/CEO Capital Region Sponsor-A-Scholar
Laura Marx has over 26 years of fundraising and nonprofit management experience working with various organizations in the Capital Region, NY. She holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Laura is passionate about working with youth and making sure they have the resources, skills, and opportunities to reach their full potential. www.crsas.org