Spring 2016 Newsletter
In This Issue
Summer Details
Program: June 20-July 22
Site tours TBA
Learn more about becoming a Summer Teaching Assistant.

Upcoming Events
Gala:  November 3, 2016, 6pm  at Sharon Heights GCC

Now Hiring
Teachers for our after-school programs and RWC Site Coordinator.  Apply here.  

Thank You
to our wonderful mentors who helped our 5th and 8th grade Academy students with the application process to Independent, Parochial, and Charter Schools:

Mar Y Sol Alvarado, Nicole Batchelder, Margaret Beltramo, Allyson Campa, Colleen Chicoine, Lisa Clancy, Kalyani Comal, Valerie Constant, Janie Cozad, Vicky Evans, Carolyn Feamster, Lynn Fischbach, Kirsten Gray, Becky Hilderbrand, Rene Jimenez, Tabitha Jordan, Marcie Kay, Ryan Kearns, Stacey Kertsman, Andy Koontz, Jackie Lai, Zoey Lieberman, Lisa Lunday, Fred Martinez, Sol Martinez, Theresa Martinez, Matt McWright, Megan Miller, Ruby Moreno, Maureen Murphy, Patty Murray, Virginia Pegley, Kristi Pickering, Tripp Robbins, Julia Roy, Sunil Samel, Amy Sanford, Chris Schumacher, Tish Scola, Inken Sparkman, Christy Story, Rula Tamer, Kelli Tomlinson, Tait Wade, Alexandra Wendker, Teresa Wong, Laura Yecies
Peninsula Bridge
PO Box 963
Menlo Park, CA 94026

Dear Friends,

How do children succeed and why? What is the role of effort in a person's success? 

There is a growing national dialogue about the importance of developing social and emotional skills in young people to help them do well in school and successfully navigate into adulthood. Research is showing that children who develop social and emotional skills have a greater chance of achieving better long-term outcomes. This goes for young people from all socio-economic strata, but especially for kids from low-income backgrounds who face adversity. Although rigorous academic preparation is a critical factor, a strong body of research is showing that more is needed to ensure a child thrives in school and beyond. 

Research shows that social emotional skills not only improve achievement by an average of 11 percentile points, but also increase prosocial behaviors (such as kindness, sharing and empathy), improve student attitudes toward school, and reduce depression and stress among students (Durlak et al., 2011). 

Angela Duckworth, a psychologist from University of Pennsylvania, has done research that proves grit and self-control can be a more reliable predictor of a student's GPA than their IQ. Grit or "stick-to-it-iveness" helps students maintain concentration on tasks and is important for academic success. 

When it comes to high achievement, grit may be as essential as intelligence. This is a big shift since intelligence was always considered the key to success. Duckworth argues that grit is ultimately what predicts college persistence in low-income and minority students. 

With this in mind, Peninsula Bridge has focused on integrating social-emotional learning into all aspects of our programming for our middle school and high school students and parents. Peninsula Bridge is intentionally seeking to foster character traits like grit, perseverance and empathy, which studies demonstrate can be determinants of future success. Our curriculum focuses on study skills, work habits, self-discipline, and time management. 

Since most of our students are first generation and have no experience with higher education, college can be difficult and confusing. When obstacles arise, they have no one in their families to turn to. When college is hard, grit helps. Peninsula Bridge is helping our students learn how to be "gritty" about high school and college completion. One thing we know for sure is that character matters. 

Randi Shafton & Jocelyn Swisher 
Executive Directors, Peninsula Bridge
Successfully Serving More Students with Our  12-year 
Program Model
Over the past year, we have made tremendous progress in building out our expanded mission focused on providing year-round support for our students from 5th  grade through college graduation.  Programs Overview.

Student Enrollment Numbers by Academic Year:

Middle School Academy*
420 417 396
420 417 396
*6th/7th Grades
- 27 53
*8th Grade
55 66 70
High School Academy
- 14 42
College Mentoring Pilot
- 10 11
Total Students
420 441 449

Sand Hill Foundation on 
Non-cognitive Learning

For twenty years, Sand Hill Foundation has funded after-school programs and watched closely to see what is challenging for these kinds of organizations as they seek to support youth on the path to fulfilling adult lives. See what Executive Director, Ash McNeely, has to say about non-cognitive learning.

Why is the Sand Hill Foundation investing in non-cognitive learning?  What is Sand Hill trying to change?
In 2010, we co-funded the Silicon Valley Out-of-School-Time Collaborative to work with nine local after-school organizations, including Peninsula Bridge. After three years of learning together, these organizations - not Sand Hill Foundation! - identified the urgent need to invest in non-cognitive learning at their programs. Sand Hill Foundation values the wisdom of those who are working on the ground with youth in our community. We highly respect the staff of these organizations and were happy to support them in realizing this vision. Our hope is that after five years of working together, these organizations that collectively serve over 6,000 Silicon Valley youth will have made social-emotional skill building a core part of their ongoing programming.  We would like non-cognitive learning to be a must do, not a nice to do.

What are the short-term and long-term benefits of non-cognitive skill development?
There are many obstacles facing first-generation and/or low-income families in our community. Non-cognitive attributes like tenacity, resilience, problem-solving, social skills, and learning strategies are critical to navigating these obstacles. We all fail sometimes.  The question is how we learn from our failures, brush ourselves off, and try again. People need help learning how to do this as early in life as possible, and after-school and summer programs for youth provide a supportive, flexible learning context for them to develop these skills.

Is there a need for a different educational system for kids who show up at school with adversity at home?
No, I don't think so. But there is a need for every K-12 teacher to have the same kinds of social-emotional know-how that we've been enabling for the staff at Peninsula Bridge and all the other members of the Silicon Valley Out-of-School-Time Collaborative. In an ideal world, the school-day teachers and the after-school and summer teachers would all be speaking the same growth mindset language to the youth. Then all the systems would reinforce one another and learning could accelerate.

What does genuine success look like to Sand Hill?  Has Sand Hill Foundation generated an SROI? 
Over the last twenty years, Sand Hill Foundation has granted over $92 million to organizations primarily serving San Mateo County and northern Santa Clara County. We live and breathe the social return on investment of that every day when we visit the organizations we've funded, we hear about their growth, and we see many individual lives changed. We are truly honored to be able to spend so much time with people who are devoting their lives to making the Peninsula better for all its residents. One of our favorite things is to meet a new staff member at an organization and to learn that they are from the area and participated while growing up here in many of the programs that we fund - and now they are paying forward what they received. Peninsula Bridge now has two staff members like this!
Middle School Academy - Mindset Matters
In the Middle School Academy, students have spent a great deal of time exploring and engaging in hands-on experiences to help them know the difference between having a Growth Mindset and a Fixed Mindset. We believe that by engaging students in activities where they consciously explore their non-cognitive skills, they will be able to identify challenges and set a pathway for success. As a result of the activities, students have explored their individual strengths and challenges and set goals for how to approach challenges effectively in order enhance growth and learning. The lessons and activities have been based on the research of Carol Dweck, Ph.D. and Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. The visual below taken from Dweck's book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, highlights some of the differences between these two mindsets related to one's approach to skills, challenges, effort, feedback and setbacks.
Dweck, Carol Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Random House, 2006
Middle School Student Spotlight: Lupita Diaz

Lupita Diaz, a 6th grader at Mountain View Middle School Academy,  recently received an award for exhibiting a strong Growth Mindset at her home school. Here is a student perspective on the outcomes of the Peninsula Bridge Social Emotional Learning curriculum being implemented.

What does Growth Mindset mean to you?
To me, a person with a Growth Mindset is someone that says, I might be struggling with this task, yet I can...and then they think of things they can do to push through and persevere  through the problem. They know they can grow and don't have to stay stuck where they are. They believe they can improve.

How has learning about Growth Mindset helped you in school? 
It has impacted how I learn. I used to think very differently about learning and doubt myself. For example, essays used to be very frightening to me. Now, I tell myself: You've got this. Just calm down.

Of the strategies we've learned, which calming strategies do you use?
I step away for a moment. Like now when I get an essay assigned, I ask the teacher if I can get a drink of water. Then, I take some time to walk, get some water, look outside or at a tree, and take some calming breaths before starting the essay. This helps me to think about doing a good job on the essay and being successful.

Do you use Growth Mindset strategies outside of school?
Personally, in my family, it can be challenging because my mom depends on me a lot to translate English and Spanish. Sometimes, it is over the phone and other times it is with mail. I used to feel a lot of pressure and be really nervous about this, but now I tell myself to calm down and just do my best. I know that I will get better and better at translating the more that I do it in a calm way. The Growth Mindset has also helped me to see how important it is for me to do well in school and in my use of English and Spanish because it will affect my future and my family. I also tell myself that it is a positive thing that I come from a family that is not originally from the U.S. because I have this opportunity to learn more and be useful to them.  I also use Growth Mindset at home to show my family how being positive and calm can help in many situations. For me, it has helped a lot with communication when helping to translate. The more positive and calm that I can be, the easier it is to communicate with other people when I am translating.

What message would you tell other Peninsula Bridge students about the importance of Growth Mindset?
Never underestimate what you can do! I used to underestimate myself a lot and now with applying Growth Mindset, it has really helped me to improve so much in and out of school. Be open to learning new things. The more things you do and try, the more you will experience and learn. 
High School Academy's New Homework Club

The Homework Club was created by
Peninsula Bridge to provide weekly academic support to 9th and 10th grade High School Academy students.

Peer tutors and professional volunteers are knowledgeable in core subjects and responsive to the student mindset. They work with students from 4-7pm every Wednesday.

Our 9th and 10th graders demonstrate improved homework completion, subject comprehension, and build stronger study skills. They have also  developed a stronger sense of belonging while working together in our new classroom that creates a comfortable environment to succeed.  Not only is the Homework Club a great way for students to improve academics, but it also allows students to build a strong cohort and support each other academically, socially, and emotionally!

We want to thank InsideSource for donating the beautiful new tables and chairs for the Homework Club and Menlo Flooring & Design for the new carpet.
Meet Dina - a High School Academy Student
Dina describes her experience in the high school program at Peninsula Bridge and how it has helped her with her transition to a new school.
Dina, a Freshman at Menlo Atherton High School, working on homework with Nick, a peer tutor from Sacred Heart

How has Peninsula Bridge assisted you in your High School Academic performance?
Peninsula Bridge has helped me in many ways over the years to become well prepared for my upcoming classes. With the support of the teachers and many people around me, it helped me know what to expect when transitioning to high school. One thing I heard many times was "If you ever need help, just ask"; this has allowed me to open up and not be afraid to ask for support. At  the Homework Club, I get to accelerate my learning and be even  more prepared for my classes. I learn new things that aren't taught in my class until the following week.

What is your favorite part of being a member of Peninsula Bridge?
My favorite part is meeting students like me-I've made a lot of new friends! My friends at Peninsula Bridge, including my twin sister, share the same academic goals. We all want to attend college and finish successfully. I recently went bowling with my Peninsula Bridge class and got to know some of my classmates outside of academics, and we found many things in common that helped us build friendships.
Can you share an experience you've had where you dealt with an issue at school and the program helped you solve it?
During my freshman year my sister and I transferred from a small charter high school to Menlo Atherton High School. It was a very difficult transition, and during that time period my grades dropped drastically. Peninsula Bridge was able to help me with the weekly sessions, and even getting extra help on certain assignments. Rene, my academic advisor at Peninsula Bridge, was there every step of the way, and assisted in the transition. We also learned to better manage our time and attend daily tutorials until our grades were higher. 
Aside from academic support, what other aspects of the HS Academy do you consider to be helpful?
I consider the 1 to 1 personal support to be very helpful. With their support, it helped me believe that it was never too late to improve my grades. The fact that we have someone reaching out to us every week to stay on top of our academic plan encourages me to stay focused on my goals. All the support has helped me settle into high school and overcome the obstacles.
College Mentoring - A Lasting Friendship Between a
Mentor and Mentee

For information about becoming a mentor, please  click here .

Mariana Orocio (right) is a Sophomore at Santa Clara University majoring in Communications. Gerri Bock, Mariana's mentor, is a Peninsula Bridge board member and long-time supporter. 

Mariana and Gerri describe their experiences in Peninsula Bridge's College Mentoring Program, how they have influenced each other, and what the program means to them.
Mariana Orocio
What has been the greatest benefit you received from this experience? 
The greatest benefit is the amount of support and encouragement I have received from my mentor, Gerri, and the Directors of the College Mentoring program throughout my college journey. Having parents who did not have the opportunity to attend college, it has been very helpful having a network of mentors who provide guidance and aid during crucial times, both in my academic and personal life.
Can you describe some specific ways in which your mentor assisted you?
My mentor, Gerri, has been incredibly encouraging and helpful. She has helped me polish my resume, find academic scholarships , and most importantly, supported me when I decided to transfer to a different university. Gerri keeps in touch with me regularly and is very understanding with my hectic schedule. She often checks in with me via text because she knows that is the best, most convenient form of communication for me. I am significantly thankful for everything Gerri does for me.
What impact has the Peninsula Bridge Mentoring Program had on you?
The Peninsula Bridge Mentoring Program has taught me to be appreciative of the opportunities offered and that there is nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it. As first generation students, it is often difficult to acknowledge the fact that we don't have all the answers or have the resources to find those answers. Through the mentoring program, I have learned that you must be willing to ask and receive help in order to get through the difficult college experiences. 
What would you say to a student who is considering participation in this program?
Take advantage of the opportunities offered to you. College is a very difficult time for many of us, and we don't always have the support of others to get us through the difficult times. The Mentoring Program offers you a unique experience that will benefit you in ways you can't yet imagine.
Gerri Bock
What made you decide to become a mentor in the Peninsula Bridge Mentoring Program?
I volunteered to be a mentor because I wanted to give back to my community. Peninsula Bridge is such a fabulous organization and I wanted to be involved in a more "hands-on" way.  
How would you describe the role of a mentor?
In my case the role of a mentor was, and continues, to be that of a trusted adult in the life of a Peninsula Bridge alum. At first I was a little worried that I needed to be an expert at the college selection/financial aid process (which I am not!). I realized over time that my mentee had access to other resources when she needed "expert" advice. The mentor relationship is really a sounding board and a touch point for kids who may have few other adults in their lives to turn to.
Can you describe some specific ways in which your mentee inspired you?
My mentee inspires me in many ways! I feel so lucky to have been matched with Mariana. This young woman is so determined and such a hard worker. She handles every challenge that comes her way with grace. One specific quality that Mariana has that I have tried to emulate in my own life, is how open she is to feedback and help from others. This isn't always easy, but I can see how Mariana has grown by seeking out opportunities that others might have let pass by.
What have you gained through your partnership with your student mentee?
I have gained so much from my relationship to Mariana. I'm glad I took the risk and volunteered for this program! I definitely understand with much more clarity the challenges facing Mariana and her peers as they transition to college. These students continue to need our support. I truly believe that Mariana is a Peninsula Bridge success story, but more importantly than that, she is her own success story. I am humbled and inspired to call her my friend.