Recently appointed Executive Director of the Peninsula College Fund (PCF), Catherine Crystal Foster joins the organization as it’s poised for expansion.
“PCF represents the best in our community – talented and motivated students, committed and creative mentors, and a visionary founder who translates student dreams into reality every day. I’m honored to have the opportunity to lead the organization into its next stage of growth.”
Non-profit PCF was founded in 2005 by Menlo Park resident Charles Schmuck to help low-income, first-generation and traditionally under-represented minority students from the Bay Area mid-peninsula achieve their educational and career goals. Serving primarily East Palo Alto, eastern Menlo Park and Redwood City, PCF provides students with a comprehensive program of four-year scholarships, one-on-one mentoring, college skills training, and internship support. Of the 81 students who have received support from PCF to date, more than 97% have graduated from college or currently attend college on the path to completion.
Catherine has more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, including 15 years of partnering with philanthropic organizations to enhance the impact of their policy work and grant-making. Most recently, she consulted with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Postsecondary Success Team, supporting their efforts to promote college completion among low-income young adults.
“I’ve been working on anti-poverty issues for years,” said Catherine. “If you want to make an impact in poverty, you have to tackle education, which is often complicated and sometimes hard, due to the many constituencies involved.
“Post-secondary education was long thought of as a ‘nice to have’ not a ‘must have.’ But, that’s changed. We now live in a service economy and that makes post-secondary education essential.
“At PCF, we want students to get degrees and skills in career paths that are meaningful to them. We want them to get a job. We select students for our scholarship who will give back to the community. They will mentor the next generation. Going to college enables these young people to get a civic as well as academic education.”
Catherine is setting as goals the ability of PCF to serve more students and provide more training for each student’s one-on-one mentor, which Catherine describes as “the relationship that gets these students across the graduation stage.”
“I also want to make sure we gain greater visibility in the community and integration with a lot more organizations and programs. I feel that everyone in this community has a stake in the outcome of these students and we look forward to more involvement.”
Photo by Scott R. Kline