January 2021 Edition

January 2021 Edition
Joseph Khammar

Dear A Better Chance Alumni,

As we turn the page on 2020, we wanted to be sure to connect with all of you and share an update on A Better Chance. We knew that last year would be marked by change as we both stepped into new leadership positions. Theo, a proud Alum, was named Chairman of A Better Chance’s Board of Directors last January. Francisco, an Alum of a college prep organization inspired by A Better Chance, was named President & CEO last February. As the challenges presented by the pandemic came into sharper focus, just weeks into our respective tenures, it was clear that 2020 would be a year like no other rife with change.

Weathering change requires a strong foundation and our Alumni have been pivotal towards helping A Better Chance preserve our impact and ensure programmatic continuity in an uncertain time. Hundreds of Alums committed gifts of time, talent, and treasure to help us access the resources necessary to realize our goals in 2020:

  • When COVID-19 forced us to cancel our largest fundraising event of the year, Alumni answered the call and helped us implement the Creating Leaders of a Lifetime Series. Highlighting their personal and professional journeys in the spheres of law, civil rights, entrepreneurship, and the arts, Alumni participants in the Series projected powerful examples of why A Better Chance’s mission is more vital than ever. Our appreciation to all Alum participants: Debo Adegbile ’84, Jody Armour ’78, Bertha Coombs ’80, David Cox ’05, Bobbito Garcia ’84, Roxane Gay ’92, Sheila Marmon ’90, Sadasia McCutchen ’13, Tochi Onyebuchi ’05, Chrishaunda Lee Perez ’94, Miriam Rivera ’82, and Sheria Smith ’01.
  • Alums like Doug Chavez ’93 hosted virtual gatherings, presenting opportunities for us to reconnect with Alumni who may not have been in touch with A Better Chance for several years. In December, Doug brought together fellow Alumni from within his network and Milton Academy, including Governor Deval Patrick ’74 who spoke about the importance of strengthening Alumni engagement now more than ever.
  • Special thanks to Michelle Gittens ‘99 and the National Advisory Council (NAC), which she chaired in 2020, for their support and leadership of our fundraising for Giving Tuesday Now and Giving Tuesday. The efforts of Alums on the NAC—Michelle, David Cox ’05, Nicole Madison ’99, Nicole Melwood ’01, Regwood Snipes ’05, Roger Manzano, Jr. '02 and Jasmine Wade ’06—helped us raise nearly $70,000, with hundreds of Alumni supporting the campaigns. As Michelle ends her service as chair of the NAC, she hands the mantle to Nicole Melwood and we are excited to partner with Nicole to build upon the success of the last year.
  • We inducted 8 new Board Members in 2020 who are leaders in finance, real estate, technology, retail, and consulting. Alumni like Joseph Lewis ’97 and Michelle Gittens ’99 facilitated introductions to two of our new Board Members, demonstrating the power of Alumni networks in bringing new champions of our mission into A Better Chance’s orbit. These new Board Members join a dynamic board that is currently comprised of 1/3 A Better Chance Alumni.

Cumulatively, these Alumni efforts contributed to some important wins in 2020. We exceeded our revenue goal and garnered over $3M in support of our programs and services. Having the requisite resources enabled us to preserve our impact—we placed 523 Scholars in our network of Member Schools and Community Schools Programs and leveraged over $18M in financial aid for our new Scholars. We recruited a Cohort of over 700 students in 2020 who are beginning their journey as they prepare to apply to Member Schools and Community Schools Programs. Despite the pandemic, we were able to secure the tools necessary to transition all our in-person programming to online platforms ensuring programmatic continuity.

It has been an incredibly challenging year for all of us. And yet, in the face of all these challenges, we remain optimistic and inspired about our future. A significant reason for our optimism is all of you—members of an Alumni community that is 17,000 strong. You are the most powerful testimony of the impact of A Better Chance.

This is an exciting moment at A Better Chance and we hope you will stay connected.

Alumni engagement is critical to us. As we look ahead to 2021, we are working to implement a more consistent and regular calendar of Alumni communications and touch points to ensure Alums are connected to what is going on at A Better Chance. We hope you take pride in what we were able to accomplish together in 2020, and we look forward to our continued work together this year. We hope you enjoyed the holidays and send best wishes to you and yours during these early days in the new year.

In Service,

Theo Killion '70

Francisco Tezén
President & CEO