by Jennifer Mistrot

BERKELEY (KPIX 5) — For more than 20 years, KPIX 5 has brought viewers the stories of Students Rising Above scholars. These amazing young people have faced incredible challenges on the way to college success and beyond. Recently, the organization held its annual fundraiser, which was also a heartfelt homecoming for some very special SRA alums.

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“Walk the Walk” launched online May 1, encouraging donors to pledge money for miles walked in honor of the class of 2021, and culminating in a small, sit-down gathering at a local production facility in Berkeley. This was the second year Students Rising Above canceled its annual gala at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in San Francisco because of the pandemic.

But it was a joyful occasion for all as the pledge drive reunited retired KPIX 5 anchor and Students Rising Above co-founder Wendy Tokuda with some of her most beloved students, all working together to raise funds for an organization they hold close to their hearts.

“And it’s more crucial right now than ever before because of COVID,” explained Tokuda of the need for funds for communities and kids that have been hit hard by the pandemic.. “It’s been [hard] for these students and their families, all of them low-income and most of these kids, kids of color.”

LEARN MORE: Students Rising Above

CBSN national news reporter and SRA Alum Musadiq Bidar credits the non-profit for his professional success.

“I wouldn’t be at CBS News if it wasn’t for Students Rising Above,” said Bidar. “They gave me an opportunity to change my life. So any opportunity I get to give back to this community I jump on it as soon as I can.”

Bidar welcomed the chance sit down with old friends like business entrepreneur Tevah El Emmet, who flew back to the Bay Area from Mexico for the organization he sees as family.

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“Family no matter where you are is your family,” declared El Emmet, a self-proclaimed ‘Digital Nomad’ and owner of Pandemic Proof Profits and NSPIRED media. “You look out for them. they look out for you. They are people you care about and that you want to hear from.”

For Veronica Toscano, Chief of Staff for Cisco System’s Privacy team, having SRA as a safe space to share her story gives her courage.

“I know that SRA will always be behind me in any choice that I make, being there to support me,” declared Toscano. “And that is what really matters and I know I will be okay.”

Verleana Green agrees. She’s the owner of VDG law firm, and the founder of a non-profit that helps educate communities of color on the importance of estate planning and financial literacy. Her schedule is packed but SRA takes high priority.

“Making sure that whenever Students Rising Above needs me, or just calls me and says you know what we would like for you to represent, [I say] of course, of course,” the busy mom of two daughters says of making time for the organization she loves.

Students Rising Above hopes to hold its traditional in person Gala at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco in March of 2022. But the organization continues to take donations at its Walk The Walk for SRA (funraise.org).

 

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