Why We Do It

Our Motivation

Pasadena is the Crown City—home of the Rose Bowl, the Rose Parade, Caltech. But there is a different side to Pasadena than what the world sees on New Year’s Day. Pasadena consistently ranks in the top ten cities with the highest income disparity in the state of California, and one of the highest private-to- public school enrollment ratios in the nation. That means Pasadena Unified School District serves an increasingly low-income urban student population with fewer and fewer resources. Across America’s hard-to- serve urban areas, public school students drop out of school in alarming numbers, and for those that do graduate, the road to post-secondary education is filled with obstacles. Too many of America’s high school students are underserved and, as a result, are underperforming. Pasadena is a city of tremendous resources—the problem is that the resources are not shared equitably. By providing holistic support to students and families—through after-school programming, mentoring, college readiness, and parent engagement—Stars is providing the resources that help make dreams a reality.

Our Part of the Solution

Stars offers a holistic, community-collaborative approach in providing educational opportunity and support for students.  Our programs include four after-school program sites, a mentoring program, summer enrichment trips and academic programs, college support, counseling, social skills classes, and parenting classes. Together, Stars programs provide over 9000 hours of tutoring and mentoring annually to more than 200 students and their families. It has become an established part of the Northwest Pasadena educational community, and our high school graduation rates are at 99%.

By encouraging, teaching, supporting and making a difference in the lives of the children and youth that we serve, Stars strengthens our whole community. Our approach is unique in the depth of the relationships we form with the students and families we serve and our long-term commitment to them. Programs start in 1st grade and continue through middle school, high school, college, and beyond.

Words from our Alumni

Barbara Waffer

“There is so much I can say about Stars’ programs. As I look back on all my experiences, this program has taught me so much. While challenging me from the beginning, the Mentor Program was rewarding from a developmental perspective. My mentor, Kristin Dockery, challenged me to first build a relationship with a colleague, which I had interacted with but had not worked with in any direct way. She helped me by strengthening my presentation skills, career exploration, and most importantly taught me to believe in myself. Nothing is ever easy, but Stars made a way for students like myself to have a better future. They supported me with all my needs and gave me the tools to succeed in life.

The most memorable moment for me was when we went to trips, such as, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and more. Those moments were an opportunity for me to share the stage with others about who I am as a person. Our conversations led to what I felt was the best part of our mentoring relationship; a bond of friendship, which I miss dearly. Because Stars, I have gained many friends and have become very successful. I am now graduating from Cal State University Northridge with a B.A in communication with a minor in family studies. I also graduated from Pasadena City College, thanks to the people of this program. My mentor pushed me so hard, and now because of her I’m on two honor rolls and make college look easy. The best part of this program is having my mentor Kristin as my best friend and I’m truly blessed to still have her in life after high school.”

Demetrice Wilson

“I’m not sure how many times I can erase an opening sentence. To my count, I am now at 19. 19 well thought phrases and punchlines to tickle your optical fancy. Some of them were awesome, mind you… awesome! But, in the end I realized that the best way to start this would have to be full throttle. So, here is my aggressive love driven thanks…

THANK YOU!!! (notice the 3 exclamation marks? That’s how you know I am serious.) For what? How about for creating a safe place with Stars for my younger bro and myself, as well as every other at risk youth in the North West Pasadena area – 600 block – to not only fellowship and learn about the Great G.O.D., but also provide us with tutors and mentors to assist us with school work and social issues.

Who could forget the day I woke up after high school and was told by the Big Homie Curt Gibson, A.K.A. Wild Man Gibbs, A.K.A. Pappa Thor, A.K.A… um. OH! I was told that the church had forwarded my name to a Christian organization called Ascending Lights, and that because of the potential they had seen in me throughout the years, I would have an opportunity to go to junior college for free while be allowed to grow as a Christian leader via this program and the backing of Lake Avenue Church.

I have to thank Stars for how it physically housed me and some of my closest friends for years! Both helping us grow in maturity while teaching us the how to take care of… (here comes the B word, for those faint of heart) bills.

So much pressure was taken off of my shoulders and allowed me to focus on school, which eventually lead me to Art Center College of Design. There I thrived! And though I had to distance myself to stay focused in the maddening, elongated machine that was ACCD, I was given guidance, assurance, confidence and most of all, friendships to lean upon in the toughest of times.

There are friends of mine who also attended this church and were funneled through its embrace, just as I was. Some are still here, some are not. Yet, I saw love, joy, and the power of God sink into each of us. Not just that, I saw it, and still see it, being shared with others as it was to us. I for was lead worship at a church in Riverside – Riverside Christian Assembly. I have been for years. It’s in giving back, that I understand why you gave in the first place.

Now I’m not sure how to end this… Um. I went from being an at risk youth who didn’t believe he, for all his talents, could ever achieve anything, to being hired in the industry before graduating Art center, to having a career as an Artist at Warner Brothers and teaching at the same school, Art center, that I attended. This I know is God. I know this because I am a sane person. I am a sane person, largely in part, because Stars rigorously opened gates, blockades, doors and windows for a young brother to get through without losing his mind. Real talk.”