Holiday Spirit

Kesha Weekes, far right, lead instructor for East Palo Alto Tennis and Tutoring's middle school group, checks in with the students about their week and discusses ways they can improve their study skills on Dec. 6, 2016. With a grant from the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund, students were able to tour southern California colleges this year; they applied for admission at six of them.

Posted Dec. 9, 2016

Tennis coaches, tutors give kids a leg up
Local students visit college campuses through Holiday Fund grant

Story by Rick Eymer; Photos by Veronica Weber

The East Palo Alto Tennis and Tutoring (EPATT) program has long sought to show disadvantaged students new possibilities in life, whether a new sport, better academic skills or a local college. It's also aimed to empower kids to have a voice in their own futures.

So when several students asked about the possibility of touring colleges in southern California, Tennis and Tutoring took action.

"There was a push for it," said Amy Kohrman, program development and communications manager. "They wanted to see what else was out there. Alumni who attended southern California schools would always stop by, and the students kept asking if there was a possibility for them."

This past year, with help from the Palo Alto Weekly's Holiday Fund, seven juniors along with the program's High School Group Coordinator Maribel Zarate and Operations Director Adrian Amaral made the trip, visiting campuses such as the University of Southern California, California Institute of Technology, Loyola Marymount, University of California, San Diego and Occidental, among others. Of the seven colleges visited, students applied for admission at six of them.

"We wanted to help them see more that is out there," Zarate said. "They may never have the chance unless you plant the seed. It inspires them to keep plugging away at school."

Lupe Talakai, far left, coaches ninth-grader Bryon Escarsega on his form at Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Center on Dec. 6, 2016. Escarsega is receiving tutoring and tennis lessons at East Palo Alto Tennis and Tutoring, which this year received a grant from the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund.
The students had to each research a campus and serve as "guide" for that school. Caltech got on the list because one student was matched with it through QuestBridge, a locally based nonprofit that provides scholarship opportunities to students. He applied after the visit.

Zarate, a graduate of University of California, Santa Cruz, is something of a role model for her students. Zarate came to the United States from Central America in the third grade without speaking a word of English. She taught herself the language, becoming fluent by the sixth grade.

Given that the program's student population is 76 percent Latino, Zarate has become a valuable resource as well as a passionate educator.

Tennis and Tutoring began its existence as a tennis program and morphed into an academic program. The program is housed at the Taube Family Tennis Center on the Stanford University campus, and Stanford's Director of Tennis Dick Gould also has an office in the building and serves on the program's Board of Directors.

"He's our biggest champion," Kohrman said.

It was one of Gould's former players, All-American Jeff Arons, who set it all in motion. Arons started a summer tennis program for kids in East Palo Alto to get them off the streets and onto the courts.

While maintaining its tennis component, Tennis and Tutoring rapidly developed into a year-round program to help underserved kids in East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park.

"I helped Jeff get hired by the East Palo Alto Recreation Department at the time to serve as a summer tennis instructor for youth just after he left the Pro tour," Gould said. "He taught after school during the school year and was a pied piper. We put in more courts, and he still filled the courts. It was his idea to add tutoring so that if the kids came to tutoring on Monday and Wednesday, they could play tennis on Tuesday and Thursday, or vice versa."

Nathaly Guzman, 8, center, gets help with her math homework from tutor Naite Faletau after school at East Palo Alto Tennis and Tutoring on Dec. 6, 2016. With a grant from the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund, students were able to tour southern California colleges this year; they applied for admission at six of them. Some students will be the first in their families to attend college.
The program was held at Ravenswood High School and then Cesar Chavez Elementary School for 10 years, until a fire consumed the buildings, and Stanford allowed the facility to be constructed at its current location.

The program's partnership with Stanford resulted in one-on-one tutors. East Palo Alto Tennis and Tutoring's Tutor of the Year and Stanford graduate student Alina Liao, for example, saw a need to help at-risk and underserved youth. Liao shifted her focus in graduate school to a double major in education and business administration. She's a leader with the Graduate School of Business' nonprofit Challenge for Charity program, helping to develop students' commitments to community involvement and raising funds.

Tennis and Tutoring sponsors its own tournament tennis teams that participate in United States Tennis Association junior tournaments.

"We're not grooming masters, but it's nice to have," Kohrman said. "It gets kids active and teaches them a skill. They learn other things."

Tennis and Tutoring is a kindergarten through high school academic program, and even with five full-time and two part-time employees, along with the hundreds of volunteers, there's a lengthy waiting list. To help expand its impact, the program has developed "Project Rally," which is designed to help shrink the achievement gap in kindergarten and first grade.

Students from six different school districts participate in the program. Most are bussed from East Palo Alto. Kohrman said most students are up early and won't get home much before 8 p.m. every day. Participation is a commitment from both parents and students, some of whom attend Menlo-Atherton, Menlo School, Palo Alto, Gunn and Pinewood.

"Most don't read at their grade level when they enter EPATT and over 70 percent of them are on track to becoming the first generation in their family to attend college," Kohrman said.

The program isn't just about getting kids into college, though. There's a young man with a vision of attending culinary school and becoming a chef. He's getting the support needed to follow his dream.

Kohrman said the high school senior has cooked for Tennis and Tutoring and she gave him a great review.

The program is also as much about educating parents, Kohrman said, many of whom don't understand the importance of a college degree. The parents do, however, fully support the idea of giving their children a better chance.

The program is also dedicated to helping parents understand the resources available, so they can become advocates for their kids. And just as the program gives individual attention to the kids, there's one-on-one parent coaching as well.

Make a donation
2018 Grant Recipients

10 Books A Home
Expansion of in-home tutoring and literacy program helping parents prepare their preschoolers for kindergarten through age-appropriate books and reading exercises$15,000

49ers Academy
Consolidation and relocation to a single middle school of the reading intervention and academic support program at to help prepare Ravenswood middle school students for high school $5,000

Able Works
Financial literacy education for students at Menlo-Atherton High School and East Palo Alto charter high schools and for young families$5,000

Acterra
Energy audits and solar installations aimed at reducing utility costs for low income residents of East Palo Alto and Belle Haven$5,000

Ada's Café
Training and support of developmentally disabled employees and high school interns$5,000

Adolescent Counseling Services
Outlet Program providing support services and counseling for LGBTQ+ youth $7,500

All Students Matter
Launch of new literacy intervention program focused on 3rd-5th grade students in Ravenswood school district$10,000

Art in Action
Art education program serving more than 900 students in the Ravenswood school district$5,000

Art of Yoga
Yoga, creative art and other mindfulness activities for juvenile girls in the criminal justice system$5,000

Bayshore Christian Ministries
Academic "Create" summer camp providing multiple tracks for Ravenswood district middle school students$5,000

Buena Vista Homework Club
New homework center for elementary school aged youth living at the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park$10,000

CASSY
School-based mental health services to students and families in six Ravenswood elementary and middle schools$10,000

Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto
Legal assistance to East Palo Alto residents facing eviction and other rental housing problems and conflicts$10,000

Downtown Streets Team
Stipends for homeless volunteers who perform community services in downtown Palo Alto as they transition to regular employment$7,500

DreamCatchers
New system to document student progress and improve communication among tutors of Palo Alto middle school students$10,000

East Palo Alto Kids Foundation
Educator Micro Grants Program, providing up to $600 grants to teachers in schools in East Palo Alto and east Menlo Park$10,000

East Palo Alto Tennis & Tutoring
Literacy evaluations for first through eighth graders in Ravenswood schools to determine needed interventions$7,500

Environmental Volunteers
Monthly public environmental education programs for youth and adults$5,000

Family Connections
Early childhood education program for parents of preschoolers in East Palo Alto and east Menlo Park.$7,500

Foundation for a College Education
College Knowledge middle and high school program designed to prepare students and their families to pursue a college education$7,500

Friends of Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo
Science Outreach Program providing hands on science instruction at Willow Oaks Elementary School$5,000

Get Involved Palo Alto
Service-learning internship placement program for high school students wanting to work with low-income youth$10,000

Health Connected
Sexual health education instruction in Ravenswood middle schools$5,000

Hidden Villa
Summer camp scholarships $5,000

JLS Middle School
Homework Habitat after-school homework and tutoring program three days a week$4,000

Jordan Middle School
Jordan Academic Wellness Support (JAWS) providing after-school study center for students three days a week$4,000

Kara
Spanish language peer grief support program$7,500

Live in Peace
"Gap Year Project" to guide and support at-risk high school graduates unprepared or uncertain about careers or college$5,000

Marine Science Institute
Environmental and marine science education program for low-income students$5,000

Music in the Schools Foundation
Music education in Ravenswood school district$5,000

New Creation Home Ministries
Parenting and life skills classes for teen mothers in East Palo Alto$5,000

New Voices for Youth
Video production equipment and training for middle school students at the Boys and Girls Club in East Palo Alto$3,000

Nuestra Casa
ESL classes for East Palo Alto adults$7,500

One East Palo Alto
Summer job and mentoring program for at-risk East Palo Alto youth$5,000

Palo Alto Art Center Foundation
Cultural Kaleidoscope, an arts-education program linking Palo Alto and East Palo Alto schools and using professional artists$5,000

Palo Alto Housing
Family Reading Club for parents and youth living in subsidized rental apartments managed by Palo Alto Housing $4,000

Peninsula Bridge
After school and summer academic support programs for low income middle and high school students with a goal of attending college$5,000

Peninsula HealthCare Connection
Health care supplies and services provided at the Opportunity Center clinic$5,000

Project WeHOPE
Classes and counseling to support the homeless in East Palo Alto$15,000

Quest Learning Center
Parent education workshops for parents of 2nd to 5th graders in East Palo Alto $5,000

Ravenswood Education Foundation
Purchase of washing machines at three district schools$10,000

Rosalie Rendu Center
ESL and life skills classes for East Palo Alto adults$3,500

Silicon Valley FACES
Scholarships for East Palo Alto teens to attend Camp Everytown youth diversity training weekend$5,000

Silicon Valley Urban Debate League
Summer debate camp for at-risk students in East Palo Alto$5,000

St. Francis of Assisi Youth Club
Meals for low-income third to fifth graders attending East Palo Alto after-school program$5,000

Stanford Jazz Workshop
Pilot of new after-school jazz music program for Ravenswood school district 6th graders$2,500

Terman Middle School
Homework Habitat after-school homework and tutoring program three days a week$4,000

YMCA East Palo Alto
Summer "Full STEAM Ahead" program for high school students, combining academic curriculum with recreational outings$7,500

YMCA Ross Road
Six-week summer enrichment camp for low-income students attending Barron Park Elementary School$5,000

Youth Community Service
Support of Summer of Service day camp scholarships, service clubs at local middle and high schools, service days and life skills programs for at-risk teens$15,000

Youth Speaks Out
Expressive arts program enabling teens whose voices may not be otherwise heard to collaborate on artistic projects with each other and supportive adults.$15,000

Child Care Facility Improvement Grants

Children's Center of the Stanford Community
New classroom tables and chairs and additional trikes$5,000

Children's Pre-School Center
Replacement of climbing structure$5,000

Friends of Preschool Family
Replacement of climbing structure$5,000

Grace Lutheran Preschool
New cabinets and counters$5,000

The Learning Center
Installation of new Nature Explore "Outdoor Classroom"$5,000

Palo Alto Community Child Care
Upgrade of outdoor play space at Barron Park Children's Center$10,000

Palo Alto Friends Nursery School
Replacement of single-pane windows$5,000

Parents Nursery School
Repavement of parking area$5,000

Peninsula Family Service
Repairs and improvements of outdoor play area at Haven Child Development Center$5,000

As of Dec. 12, 2018,
197 donors have contributed $198,275.
* indicates amount withheld

David Labaree300
Bruce Campbell200
Janis Ulevich100
Mike Gordon250
Bill Reller*
Ellen & Mike Turbow200
Xiaofan Lin50
M D Savioe*
Ron Wolf200
Marcia & Michael Katz200
Tom Goodrich100
Leif & Sharon Erickson250
Stephen Levy 500
John & Meg Monroe500
Daniel Cox200
Richard Zuanich200
Kieschnick Family*
Deborah Williams500
Joan & Roger Warnke*
Havern Family"5,000
Bill Johnson & Terri Lobdell"1,000
Mike & Jean Couch250
Tony & Judy Kramer*
Peter Stern*
Dorothy Saxe100
David & Nancy Kalkbrenner100
David & Lynn Mitchell450
Barbara Riper*
Nancy & Joe Huber100
Sue Kemp250
Richard Baumgartner & Elizabeth Salzer*
Sally & Craig Nordlund500
Ted & Ginny Chu*
Stev & Mary Chapel50
Ruth Hammett100
Drew McCalley & Marilyn Green100
Roy & Carol Blitzer*
Judith Appleby200
Carolyn Brennan*
Susana & Doug Woodman*
Jody Maxmin*
Pat Burt250
Larry Baer500
Arthur Keller*
Lawrence Naiman100
Pamela Mayerfeld100
Eileen Brooks500
Scott & Jan Kilner500
Andrea Smith100
Braff Family500
Eugene & Mabel Dong200
Debby Roth200
Phil Hanawalt & Garciela Spivak"1,000
Lani Freeman & Stephen Monismith100
Tom & Ellen Ehrlich350
Robert & Barbara Simpson*
Gwen Luce*
Robert Aulger*
Pat & John Davis50
Art & Peggy Stauffer500
Kroymann Family250
Mahlon & Carol Hubenthal*
Karen & Steve Ross*
Wileta Burch*
Mandy Lowell*
George & Betsy Young*
Tom & Pat Sanders*
Gerald & Joyce Barker200
Brigid Barton & Rob Robinson400
Jim & Alma Phillips500
Peggy & Boyce Nute*
Michael & Cathie Foster500
Diane Moore*
Linda & Steve Boxer*
Chuck & Jean Thompson100
Julie Jerome500
Bonnie Berg*
Gallo Family500
Ann & Don Rothblatt500
Caryn Huberman Yacowitz*
Shirley R. Ely"1,000
Luca & Mary Cafiero*
Steve & Diane Ciesinski500
Jennifer DiBrienza & Jesse Dorogusker500
James W. & Nancy E. Baer200
The Ely Family250
Page & Ferrell Sanders100
JoAnne N. Zschokke100
Ralph R. Wheeler300
Bert Fingerhut & Caroline Hicks250
Kaaren & John Antoun1,500
Richard Johnsson"7,000
Bruce Gee & Jane Gee250
Eric Hahn & Elaine Hahn"1,000
Bob & Dee Crawford*
Diane & Bob Simoni200
Jan Thomson & Roy Levin*
Donald & Adele Langendorf200
Irvin & Marilyn Yalom100
Brigid Barton500
Jerry & Bobbie Wagger*
John & Florine Galen*
H. Anton & Carolyn Tucher250
Phil Fernandez & Daniel Sternbergh*
Bob & Micki Cardelli*
John Pavkovich500
Eileen Stolee100
Sallie Whaley*
Ann Burrell & Allen Smith*
Patti Yanklowitz150
Linda Selden*
Dena Hill500
Michael Patrick200
Bonnie Packer100
Romola Georgia*
Martha Shirk500
Christina Kenrick"1,000
Dawes Family250
Ken Bencala & Sally O'Neil200
Nina & Norman Kulgein*
Tom & Nancy Fiene*
Lee Zulman*
Merrill & Lee Newman250
Judy & Lee Shulman200
Donna & Jerry Silverberg100
Victor Befera100
Kay & Don Remsen*
Beth & Peter Rosenthal300
Robyn H. Crumly*
Charles & Barbara Stevens*
Amado Padilla & Deborah Farrington500
Jerry & Linda Elkind500
Donald & Virginia Fitton25
Don & Bonnie Miller100
Roger V. Smith300
In Memory Of

Er-Ying & Yen-Chen Yen250
Janet Hermsen200
Ray Bacchetti250
Nancy & Bob Lobdell*
Ruth & Chet Johnson*
Tracy & Alan Herrick100
Bob Fenster*
David, Zoe & Ken100
Mrs. Nancy Yih*
Thomas W. & Louise L. Phinney*
Leo & Sylvia Breidenbach*
Corrine Aulgur*
Duncan Matteson250
Pam Grady300
Elliot Eisner*
Nate Rosenberg200
Francine Mendlin250
Bob Donald*
Bill Land*
Emmett Lorey*
Ted Linden200
Marie & Don Snow150
Ben Barres100
Kathleen Morris*
Our Loving Parents Albert & Beverly Pellizzari*
August L. King*
In Honor Of

Melissa Baten Caswell*
Lucy Berman's clients"2,500
Jill200
Scott200
Polly200
Hayley200
Jake200
Garrett200
Gil200
Joe Simitian*
Businesses/Organizations

Alta Mesa Cemetery & Funeral Home2,000
Bleibler Properties1,000
Communications & Power Industries500
deLemos Properties200

Apply for a Holiday Fund Grant

Nonprofits serving children and families may apply for funds by downloading our Grant Application Guidelines and Grant Application Form. Application deadline: 11:59 p.m. on January 4, 2019.