Why We Support Wave Makers graphic with Tipping Point and Making Waves Foundation logo and headshot of Ali Sutton
Ali Sutton, chief program officer at Tipping Point Community, is featured in this ‘Why We Support Wave-Makers’ series article highlighting the Tipping Point and Making Waves Foundation partnership.
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Partnering With Tipping Point to Make Bay Area Students’ Dreams a Reality

Making Waves Foundation

Making Waves Foundation » News Stories » Partnering With Tipping Point to Make Bay Area Students’ Dreams a Reality

Why We Support Wave-Makers: Tipping Point

Tipping Point imagines a Bay Area where everyone has what they need to thrive – that means every student would have a pathway to achieving a college degree. To make this aspiration a reality, Tipping Point partners with organizations – like Making Waves Foundation – that are deeply embedded in their communities and have the knowledge and expertise to build the most effective strategies for economic mobility. Educational opportunity, is of course, one of those strategies.

A partnership to increase graduation rates in the Bay Area

Since 2021, Tipping Point has provided funding and capacity building support to help Making Waves Foundation reach their shared goal of supporting students who are first-generation college students and are from low-income backgrounds – and ultimately, significantly increasing the college attendance and graduation rates in the Bay Area’s Contra Costa County.

Why Contra Costa County? Because Contra Costa County has more low-income students than Oakland and San Francisco combined and is not receiving the same level of investment from non-profits focused on college access and success. Knowing students there have limitless potential but are not receiving enough support to counter the inequities, Making Waves Foundation supports its students – known as Wave-Makers – with resources to overcome systemic barriers, live choice-filled lives, and achieve their dreams.

Making Waves also has long-standing roots going back to its founding in Richmond more than 30 years ago. Since then, it has grown into Making Waves Foundation, which focuses on college access and college success through early career, and Making Waves Academy, a leading public charter school educating more than 1,100 5th through 12th graders.

Expanding educational opportunity for students across the Bay Area

The partnership with Tipping Point includes supporting Wave-Makers from Making Waves Academy who transition into the foundation’s college success program, which provides scholarships and coaching. This also includes a growing number of Wave-Makers from Pittsburg High School who are benefiting from Making Waves’ knowledge around getting to college – whether it’s through advising on the financial aid and admissions processes, choosing the right fit for college, or preparing for college – and navigating higher education through Making Waves’ comprehensive scholarship and coaching model.

“Making Waves deeply understands the systemic barriers that stand in the way of students on the path to college. By expanding their college coaching model to include students across Contra Costa County, Making Waves Foundation is committed to ensuring even more students in the Bay Area succeed in college and beyond,” shared Tipping Point Community Chief Program Officer Ali Sutton about why Tipping Point is passionate about supporting Wave-Makers.

Currently, Wave-Makers graduate from college at twice the rate of their peers and with less than $2,200 in debt on average, which is 90% less than the national average. Looking ahead, Tipping Point’s support will continue to drive impact and help reach more Wave-Makers. Innovations and pilot programs underway include a mix of in-person and artificial intelligence powered advising as well as a new Wave-Maker Success Framework that outlines the foundation’s intentions, actions, and resources in ways that are authentic to Wave-Makers’ sense of self and community.  

“Tipping Point is an incredible partner. Their financial investment is helping Making Waves serve more students in Contra Costa, and their capacity building support strengthens our organizational capabilities so we can produce strong outcomes. We’re excited for the continued impact of this partnership,” shared Making Waves Foundation CEO Patrick O’Donnell.


About Making Waves Foundation

With a unique focus on college attendance and graduation, Making Waves Foundation supports historically underrepresented and underserved students in pursuing their dreams. Making Waves Academy is a public charter school in Richmond, California, educating more than 1,100 students and Making Waves Foundation’s college success program, known as CAP, provides coaching, scholarships, financial literacy, and career support for more than 500 college students as well as a network for more than 500 Wave-Maker alumni.

About Tipping Point

In the Bay Area, 1.1 million people don’t have the resources they need to meet their basic needs. Since 2005, Tipping Point has invested nearly $350 million for housing, early childhood, education, and employment solutions in the region. Our board covers 100% of our operating costs, so every dollar donated goes where it’s needed most. Last year, 100,000 of our neighbors turned to our grantees for support.