10,000 Degrees celebrated its 40 years of success at its annual fundraising gala, One Amazing Community, held virtually on April 24. First Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden, kicked off the evening’s festivities with a special video message about the importance of community colleges and the power of college degrees to change lives.
For four decades, 10,000 Degrees’ mission has been to help students attend and graduate from college, despite the odds stacked against them. 100 percent of its students are from low-income backgrounds, nearly all are people of color, and 85 percent will be the first in their families to attend college.
California State Senator Mike McGuire emceed the event and introduced alumni speakers and founders, as well as led the evening’s auction. 10,000 Degrees Alumna and Former Fellow Kaila Love mesmerized the crowd with a spoken word performance.
A highlight of the evening was a presentation of the ONE Degree of Change Award to honoree Dr. Thomas Peters, President and CEO of Marin Community Foundation. Peters was recognized for his decades-long contributions and support of 10,000 Degrees.
Despite the education disruptions, threatened progress and troublesome racial and economic disparities of the past year, 10,000 Degrees was able to help more than 12,000 students and families, support more than 2,200 college undergraduates, and celebrate 244 new college graduates—its largest class of graduates to date—in 2020. Upwards of 38 of its program alumni have gone on to secure employment within 10,000 Degrees, using themselves as real-life examples and inspiration for younger individuals with college aspirations.
“I first got involved with 10,000 Degrees as a high school student in 2005,” says Tania Requenes, a 10,000 Degrees alumna and the organization’s community college success director. “I’m the oldest child in my family, and no one in my family had any knowledge about the college experience. Higher education is truly life-changing, and breaks the cycle of poverty for many students, including me.”
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Donna Berry Glass is a freelance writer in Marin County who writes mostly about family and kid-oriented topics. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family exploring the natural beauty of Marin, snuggling with her Cavalier King Charles spaniel while reading a good book or whipping up something delicious in her space-challenged kitchen. Donna is a supporter of the California Academy of Sciences, a world class science museum and research institution, and the Institute on Aging which provides much needed services to seniors and disabled individuals.