BravenX logo and Making Waves Education Foundation logo with blue and orange wave gradient underneath
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A Making Waves and Braven Partnership for the Next Generation of Leaders

by Bonnie Shea

Making Waves Education Foundation » News Stories » A Making Waves and Braven Partnership for the Next Generation of Leaders

This past fall, Making Waves Education Foundation partnered with Braven to support students on their career development journeys.

Both organizations partner with first-generation college students, students of color, and students from low-income backgrounds – and both organizations know the importance of students getting a strong first job when they graduate from college.

“Given Making Waves and Braven are both committed to helping incredibly talented young people on their path to economic mobility, this partnership was a no brainer.”

Jonathan Chaparro, Executive Director, Innovation & Head of Chicago at Braven

The partnership brought the following students, who are a part of Making Waves’ college and career success program, one step closer to their career goals through the BravenX fellowship program.

“Participating in this program definitely helped me practice my leadership, communication, and other skills. I leaned into a leadership position working with a team and it felt really good to know I am capable of that.”

Ale Paz, Wave-Maker and geography major at UC Berkeley

BravenX included a 14-week virtual career development course designed to help students build their skills, grow their networks, and get ready for their careers. In 2022, Braven Fellows outpaced their national peers in job attainment by 14 percentage points (61% vs 47%).

“The saying, ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ is common in the career world,” shared Kaitlyn Endo, career development manager at Making Waves Education Foundation. “Programs like this help students gain knowledge and information they don’t yet know about. This can be hugely impactful to someone’s career trajectory, especially for first-gen college students.”

“These programs are an investment in your future self and career; you may not see the impact immediately, but the investment will pay dividends over time.”

Kaitlyn Endo, Career Development Manager at Making Waves Education Foundation

Culminating with a Capstone Project, students worked in groups on a consulting project for United Airlines. They took on various leadership roles, presented recommendations, and received feedback from United executives around the question: How might United create a positive experience for college students who are infrequent flyers?

“It was exciting to see Wave-Makers working in teams and engaging with executives. It was so clear that students were building strong collaboration, critical thinking, and presentation skills, which are all skills that will give them a leg up as they pursue internships and jobs.”

Patrick O’Donnell, CEO at Making Waves Education Foundation
Ale Paz standing in front of city view in Spain with hands clasped
Ale Paz

“Presenting to United was definitely useful,” shared Paz. “This is not the last time I will need to do a presentation like that.”

Fellows also put together a career plan and a portfolio as a part of the program. They were matched with a Leadership Coach from one of Braven’s employer partners. And the students received a stipend for their participation.

“This is a great opportunity. Whether it’s the facilitators, volunteers, peers, or the alumni network – all of them can be invaluable contributors to students’ networks and communities,” shared Endo. “Students can also ask to meet with folks offline for quick coffee chats and informational interviews.”

The support Wave-Makers receive from Braven doesn’t end after the course.

“The impact of this type of programming is not just based on the curriculum experience,” shared Endo. “Braven also provides access to a newsletter that shares internship and job postings through their Braven community in partnership with employers. These can also be very beneficial and can completely change a student’s career journey.”

In addition to internship connections, through their college graduation, students will continue to have access to networking and mentorship opportunities as well.

“We’re very much looking forward to continuing our partnership to ensure more Making Waves students have access to the skills, networks, experiences, and confidence to land a job worthy of their bachelor’s degree,” shared Chaparro.

“I’m grateful to Alejandra, Brandon, Chaylah, Maria, Robert, Ronald, and Ruby for being the first Wave-Makers to complete the course, Paola Cadena and Kaitlyn Endo on our career and alumni team for their work launching this pilot partnership, and to the team at Braven for supporting our Wave-Makers in pursuing their career goals,” shared O’Donnell.

“Partnerships, like this one between Braven and Making Waves, are so valuable,” shared Endo. “We look forward to continuing to engage in partnership and community building to best support our students.”

About Making Waves Education Foundation

At Making Waves, we are committed to educational equity. Making Waves Education Foundation is a Bay Area nonprofit that supports Making Waves Academy – a public charter school with more than 1,100 5th through 12th grade students – and leads college and career programming with more than 430 college students. Knowing the opportunities that come with a college degree, we partner with historically underrepresented and underserved students to help make college affordable and graduation attainable. Centering the journeys of our students, our personalized approach includes college and career coaching, scholarships, and financial planning. Our alumni network includes more than 730 college graduates, who earn their degrees and land jobs at more than twice the rate of their first-generation, low-income peers, with 85% graduating debt-free.

About Braven

Founded in 2013, Braven empowers promising, underrepresented young people—first-generation college students, students from low-income backgrounds, and students of color—with the skills, confidence, experiences, and networks necessary to transition from college to strong first jobs. Braven is embedded within large public universities and partners with employers to build cutting-edge career education into the undergraduate experience for low-income and first-generation college goers and provides students with a network of supporters and a sense of belonging. Braven Fellows are persisting in college and achieving exciting levels of internship and job attainment. For more information about Braven, visit

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