At Making Waves, we are passionate about a more equitable future

A bachelor’s degree leads to greater economic and career mobility for individuals and better outcomes for society.

Yet only 21% of first-generation students from low-income backgrounds graduate with a bachelor’s degree in six years. We know a more equitable future is possible.

Our Making Waves programs provide support for historically underserved and underrepresented students – from 5th grade through college and into their careers – so they can overcome barriers and reach their college, career, and life goals. 

“Making Waves gave me a community I could always count on.”


How is the Making Waves partnership with students different from what other nonprofits offer?

Teacher and student talking outside

Starting as early as 5th grade sets students up for success

Making Waves students have a comprehensive support system, starting as early as 5th grade when they enroll at Making Waves Academy, a state-of-the-art public charter school.

Through middle school and into high school, students discover their passions and interests through a curriculum of rigorous academics, social-emotional skill development, and college and career exploration. Plus: nearly 100% meet the A-G admissions requirements to attend a University of California or California State University campus.

Student holding USC flag and student holding UCLA flag

A strong bridge between high school to college

The partnership with Making Waves doesn’t end at high school graduation.

Through Making Waves Education Foundation, students and families have 1-on-1 support for complicated processes that are often barriers to starting or affording higher education, like completing FAFSA and financial aid forms, making college decisions, choosing a major, and planning college budgets.

Jennifer with her college coach on CSU East Bay campus

Scholarships and coaching make college graduation and career dreams a reality

Even with financial aid, the cost of college can exclude students from low-income backgrounds. Our students gain yearly need-based scholarships from Making Waves.

But scholarships alone are not enough. Our students are paired with Making Waves’ expert team of college, career, and financial coaches. They have the guidance first-generation college students need like how to choose the right courses to graduate on time or to make a college budget so they can graduate debt-free. They develop clear goals and get ready to transition to a job after college.

Impact by the numbers

Making Waves supports thousands of students through the lifecycle of their education and employment journeys. Our students are determined to break barriers, reach financial security, and pave the way for future generations.


5th through 12th grade






college students


Eligible for federal
Pell Grants


People of color


Meet the A-G requirements to attend a UC or CSU


Graduate from college


Obtained a job that required a bachelor’s degree or
started grad school

Meet some of our Wave-Makers

Our Making Waves alumni network is more than 730 college graduates and growing. Passionate about giving back to their communities, our Wave-Makers are using their college degrees to advance their careers in business, education, healthcare, law, social work, and more.

Guadalupe in white dress and yellow grad stole

“I was able to graduate without any student loans! I am now able to focus on investing my money, and I am excited about becoming financially stable.”

Leaje between bookshelves at the library wearing graduation cap and gown

“It is very gratifying to know that I can inspire other young students of color, especially those who come from a similar background as I do.”

Leajé Morris
Making Waves Academy ’15
UC Berkeley B.S ’19, J.D. ’22

“I wouldn’t have been able to get so involved in college if not for my Making Waves coach.”

Alejandro Aceves Madriz
Making Waves Academy ’18
San Francisco State University ’23
Alejandra in the middle of his parents smiling with confetti falling around them and balloons in background

“All my life I was worried about the financial aspects of things. It’s great to not have to worry about that anymore, to not have that huge burden. I get to do something I am passionate about.”

Making Waves Academy ’21
UC Berkeley ’25
Ale Paz standing in front of city view in Spain with hands clasped

Student stories

Hear directly from our students and alums about mean to be a part of the Making Waves community from middle school to career.

Join our community of supporters

Donating to Making Waves means advancing the impact of not one, but two nonprofits. It means thousands of students have the support they need for the lifecycle of their education and employment journey – from middle school into high school, through their college journeys, and into their careers.

Join our Making Waves community of supporters who are passionate about educational equity and supporting the next generation of leaders.