BGCP enlists Silicon Valley tech CEOs and the Warriors’ Kevin Durant to raise $2 million towards closing the opportunity gap for local youth

by Contributed Content on February 9, 2018

With help from a star-studded panel of judges Thursday night (2/8) at its annual Youth of the Year benefit, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula (BGCP) shined a spotlight on their 2,500 students and their families, and how they work hard to access Silicon Valley’s opportunities to build a better life for themselves and their community.

The event was hosted by LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and Lisette Derouaux. Four exemplary BGCP finalists — all high school seniors who will be the first in their families to attend college — shared their inspiring personal stories of resilience before an audience of 500 guests.

A star panel of judges, including Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s Jim Shelton, journalist and educator Esther Wojcicki, and Durant Company Partner Rich Kleiman selected Alysia Demery (pictured below), a senior at East Palo Alto Academy, as BGCP’s 2018 Youth of the Year. Alysia will go on to compete with Youths of the Year from other Boys & Girls Clubs as part of a national competition.

At the end of the event, Kevin Durant surprised all four finalists by announcing that he would pay for their first year of college tuition.

Youth of the Year guests and sponsors gave $2 million to provide BGCP’s students — 40% of whom are homeless, transient, or in foster care — with year-round academics, enrichment, career pathways, and support getting to and through college. This year’s event raised a record amount, a $1.2 million increase from last year, to help close the opportunity gap for the students BGCP serves in eastern Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, and Redwood City.

Youth of the Year 2018 finalists Joselin Quinteros, Dezmond “Dez” Frazier, Magali Pineda, and Alysia Demery submitted transcripts and letters of recommendation, and wrote essays about their challenges, goals, and achievements.

Alysia Demery, a senior at East Palo Alto Academy, once struggled with homelessness and severe poverty — on some days her only meal was the daily dinner served at BGCP. Despite her challenges, Alysia has earned a 3.7 GPA, founded a Black Student Union, served as captain of her basketball team, and was elected president of BGCP’s leadership council. Her dream is to attend New York University or Stanford and be the first in her family to graduate college.

“I’m so proud of our students and continue to be amazed at their resiliency and talent,” said BGCP Executive Director Peter Fortenbaugh. “It was incredible to watch them grow through Youth of the Year, meeting with our star judges and giving speeches in front of a large audience. I’m deeply appreciative of the many people who chose to partner with Team BGCP to make Silicon Valley a great place for all kids to grow up. We’re one Silicon Valley community and every family matters here — this is our message and our audience embraced that.”

Photos by Khristoper “Squint” Sandifer. Top photo pictured left to right: Peter Fortenbaugh, Jim Shelton, Magali Pineda, Alysia Demery, Sundar Pichai, Kevin Durant, Jocelyn Quinteros, Esther Wojcicki, Dezmond “Dez” Frazier, Rich Kleiman

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