A Peabody- and Emmy-winning program, Students Rising Above (SRA) was founded by a local news anchor and a community-relations manager as a scholarship program for students who are the first in their families to attend college but lack the financial resources to support their educations. Many of these students face tremendous challenges such as homelessness and neglect but realize their potential and succeed academically, earning the grades necessary to qualify for further education.
SRA selects its program participants during their junior year of high school and works with them through college graduation, helping through guidance and support to foster a 90% graduation rate after four-and-a-half years. Since its inception, the program’s services have grown to include medical care, summer internships, precollege readiness support, and care packages with technology and dorm-room essentials, as well as intangible support in the form of a network of trusted adults and peers. SRA students have attended more than 70 colleges across the country, including Princeton University, Stanford University, and the University of California, Davis.
The door of the limousine opens and flash bulbs burst in a thunderstorm of press and paparazzi. The crowd shoulders each other behind velvet ropes, craning their necks to catch a glimpse of the diamond-studded star at the head of the red carpet. When the sea of people parts, a self-assured third-grader is revealed as she greets her fawning public.
Popcorn Media gives kids the chance to experience strutting down the red carpet during their Movie Star workshops and weeklong camps. Attendees soak up the secrets of screen acting from a director who works with Disney and Nickelodeon studios while producing their own unique work. They oversee each production element that goes into a film's creation, from lighting and filming to rehearsing and giving their parents an autograph. At the end of each session, kids attend a red-carpet premier of their work amid the applause of friends and family.
The self-proclaimed second-funniest magician in the Bay Area, Ash K. the Pretty Good entertains audiences of all ages with magic shows ranging from house parties to corporate events. In 2010, he was voted the Best Arts and Entertainment/Theatre performer on the San Francisco Chronicle's Baylist, which he celebrated by turning every section in the newspaper into the funnies. His more popular routines include sleight-of-hand magic, a 10-minute comedic tour of San Francisco?s major landmarks, and kid-friendly tricks at birthday parties that include take-home gifts for guests. Click here to see a video of Ash in action.
He also offers music education, specializing in orchestral music and jazz classes for kids. The magician's business partner, a former Education Director of the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, provides programming services such as script-writing and set design for orchestras, chamber groups, and retired Chipmunk trios.
Prior to opening her personal fitness studio, Sara Ellis was a World Cup-class mountain-bike racer competing for the award-winning Volvo-Cannondale team. As her racing days were coming to a close, she began coaching others on biking techniques, strength training, and physical conditioning—and fell in love. Personal training quickly became her new passion, whether she was working with elite athletes or individuals inspired to improve their health.
Ultimate Fitness specializes in slow-motion strength training and other customized training programs. In keeping with her background, Sara also leads terrain-based indoor spinning classes that test participants' limits, whether in the area of exertion or in the number of towels they have to use in a session.
Members at Curves, a fitness center designed for women, rotate around a circuit of hydraulic resistance machines that have been designed to work with female bodies and promote weight loss, strengthen bones, and increase metabolism. An experienced trainer is always nearby to help manage participants’ machine maneuvering and muscle making. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks and losing momentum, the hydraulic machines use your own body weight, fitness level, and aerodynamic water bottles to create resistance that matches abilities, decreasing the risk of soreness or injury. Because traditional lift-and-lower motions can create bulky muscles, each machine uses push-and-pull motions to help create toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing a grapefruit without looking like you can.
Having shot more than 30,000 subjects throughout his career as a photographer, including many Silicon Valley business figures, Eric C. Gould understands how to create a good photo in any setting. His adeptness at communicating with subjects carries into his photography workshops, where he conveys difficult concepts clearly and methodically, saving students from such rookie mistakes as shooting with the lens cap on or turning the flash on while taking pictures of your imaginary friend's third grade graduation. In his own photo sessions, he frames professional clients in business portraits and headshots, high-school seniors in youthful poses, athletes in midaction, and a wide spectrum of people and places encountered on international travels.