our mission

We empower youth to design their future with tools that foster self-discovery.

our vision

We aspire to motivate all young people in America to become active participants in their educational and career journeys. We aim to cultivate emotional and social skills and instill a growth mindset in how our students approach their ongoing journeys of career exploration. We believe that such a mindset, when coupled with a strong understanding of self and the tools we provide to achieve tangible results, can create the resilience and adaptability necessary for young individuals to succeed given the ever-changing realities of today’s workforce. It is our goal to instill confidence, agency, and competencies in students so they remain engaged in school, stay away from crime, and become thriving, contributing members of society.

our timeline

our students

Our program strives to cater to ALL youth between the ages of 14 and 25. We help underserved students along the entire educational attainment spectrum, particularly marginalized youth whose circumstances leave them with fewer resources for them to envision their own success. We reach some young people who have already been disconnected from the institutions of school and work, some who are college bound, and still others who are unsure about their future educational plan.

our results

our belief

We provide a program that sees the development of a career roadmap as a dynamic process of self-assessment, imaginative exploration, and self-management. We believe that the practical realities of the job search, such as conscientiousness about financial planning and networking skills, need to be integrated into a more holistic process by which students can imaginatively identify with, envision, and plan for the path towards their future selves.

A Message from the Founder

Nicole Serena Silver
Founder, President and Executive Director

CREATION – IMPACT – PEOPLE

Nicole is a multifaceted problem solver and thought leader in the entrepreneurship and professional development space. Nicole is also the founder of Vekita, a professional development company, and the author of Vekita Full Potential, a step-by-step career and life guidance book designed for the modern professional.
 
For over a decade, Nicole has led professional development and talent optimization workshops for Fortune 500 companies such as LinkedIn, lectured at universities such as U.C. Berkeley Haas School of Business, taught entrepreneurship internationally, and has served as an advisor for numerous startups. She is also a Forbes contributor writing about the future of work and professional development. 
 
Nicole grew up in a family passionate about contributing to the world in a positive way. Her grandfather was a non-profit attorney, her mother and uncle nonprofit executive directors. It was just a matter of time before Nicole joined the family by starting her own nonprofit. Nicole is skilled at bringing the right people into organizations and is able to think both globally and locally. Her goal is to impact the lives of many and make G.R.O.W. a globally recognized organization.

“Our goal is to assist individuals to discover their full potential, hone their specific skills, and support them in contributing their gifts to society’s economic health. I have a daughter who is next in line to take care of our world, I aim for GROW to give her and those like her a blue print for success.”

 

The Board

Bryan Breckenridge

Vice President

AUTHENTIC – HUMANITARIAN – GLOBAL LEADER

Bryan has helped organizations, both in the nonprofit and commercial sectors, utilize technology to exceed their goals since the mid 90’s. Bryan Breckenridge is founding Executive Director of Box.org, an integrated social enterprise at Box.com Inc. that serves over 7000 nonprofits today.  In his role, Bryan leads Box.org’s vision to bring the social impact and tech worlds together enabling nonprofits and the tech community to innovate and fulfill their missions.  Prior to Box.org, Bryan founded the nonprofit facing pillar of LinkedIn for Good. Previously, Bryan was Director of Nonprofits and Education at the salesforce.org which leverages salesforce.com’s people, technology and resources to improve communities. Bryan is a passionate supporter of GROW’s mission and is committed to our growth.

Tracy Wu

Treasurer

MOTIVATED – FREE-SPIRITED – PERSONABLE

Tracy Wu graduated with a B.A. in Economics from U.C. Berkeley and is an alum of the very first beta class ran by G.R.O.W. She is an accountant for a concept-to-launch software innovation company and is planning on moving into the field of becoming a financial analyst. Tracy is passionate, ambitious and is constantly looking for new challenges to increase her knowledge. She excels at quantitative and analytical problem-solving with a keen eye for detail. She joined the G.R.O.W. team after realizing how valuable having career guidance can be for people. Her goal is to help promote and expand the organization in reaching out to as many students as possible. Her main responsibilities at G.R.O.W. is financial management and strategies planning.

Jill Brogan

Secretary

COMMUNICATION – DEDICATION – EXUBERANCE

Jill has fifteen years in the entertainment business operations and office administration. She has worked with record labels such as Universal and EMI/Capitol, helped produce numerous music videos, helped coordinate major tours with artists like John Mayer, worked with late night shows such as Jay Leno and David Letterman. Jill devours Excel tables, slays complex tax and legal forms, and gets down and dirty in process details to make sure the job gets done. She is reliable, smart, extremely personable and thinks fast on her feet. Jill goes the extra mile, where as most would stop at fulfilling the basic needs. Jill has discovered her passion for health and is pursuing a career in the wellness industry.

Myisha M. Gatson

Board Member

CHANGE AGENT – DISRUPTOR – ADVOCATE

Myisha is the Founder and CEO of Pearl Long Term Care Solutions, Inc. Pearl Long Term Care Solutions, Inc. is disrupting the way Americans plan for their
future long-term care needs by providing flexible and affordable options that make long term care a part of their over financial strategy and asset portfolios. Advocacy has been Myisha’s life’s passion. She has worked with many organizations accomplishing good in the world, including working as the Program Officer for the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, Director of Mobilization for the Black AIDS Institute, and Director of the NAACP’s National Health Department. Myisha started her own consulting business and secured contracts with the AFSCME; Schott Foundation for Public Education; AmFAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, and Amnesty International. Myisha is also the co-founder of the Black Angel Technology Investment Fund and the Black Angel Technology Innovation Foundation – two organizations that seek to bridge the gap in technology funding by helping Blacks develop and launch entrepreneurial ventures. Myisha received her undergraduate degree from Stanford University, master’s degree in public administration from New York University, and is currently pursuing a joint MBA/MS in Finance from the University of Maryland R.H.Smith School of Business.

Elisa Sabatini

Board Member

GLOBAL – VERSATILE – LOYAL

Elisa has created and stewarded international nonprofit organizations for over 30 years. She has dealt with the complexity of poverty, war and human transformation in these environments. She supports GROW to develop leaders who are working to bring about change in individuals that will help shift the roots of the volatile issues of our time.

“We envision a world where young people are empowered to pursue careers aligned with their passions and skills, leading to a more engaged workforce, increased productivity, lower dropout rates, decreased crime, less depression, and a healthier society.”

The Team

Brenda Huang

Executive Director Assistant

PATIENT – CONSIDERATE – EMPATHETIC

Brenda is a graduate from University of California – Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Psychology. Her interest in GROW stems from her passion to work with youth. Having had her own struggles with discovering her full potential, Brenda really resonated with GROW’s mission due to her own personal experiences. With her knowledge and involvement with GROW, she hopes that she can make a positive impact with students and their future goals.

John Jefferson

Advisor

INQUISITIVE – INSPIRED – INTREPID

John has worked in a variety of capacities in both the nonprofit and for profit sectors, always with an eye to value and opportunity creation.  Prior to his current position at AT&T in external affairs, he worked in roles ranging from manager of a hostel in Tel Aviv, Israel, to a history and social science teacher in Los Angeles.  His extensive international travel has spanned South and Central America, Europe, India, Southeast Asia, Australia and various countries throughout Africa and the Middle East. John regularly travels to East Africa for humanitarian and faith-based mission work with indigenous people groups.

Vicki Lyons

Advisor

BUILDING STRONG PARTNERSHIPS – COMMUNICATION – IMPROVING COMMUNITIES

Vicki’s diverse experience has focused on communication vehicles and tools to engage people to connect with each other for success. Her career includes the management of products, projects and relationships in the telecommunications, technology and retail industries. As a partner success manager at LinkedIn she partners with sales professionals around the globe to maximize social selling and LinkedIn Sales Navigator as their primary solution to drive sales. She’s passionate about connecting employee, community and company goals for social responsibility and improved business results.

Emmeline Wei

HR Coordinator

EMPATHETIC – PRACTICAL – DEDICATED

Emmeline is an educator-turned-HR neophyte with a passion for education equity and social responsibility. Prior to GROW, she has volunteered with nonprofits in community welfare, education, and mental health, and is a trained crisis counselor. After graduating from UC Davis, she pursued a career in K-12 education before pivoting towards talent acquisition and development. With her current background in the tech industry, she continues to be an advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion in recruiting. Emmeline is currently managing HR at GROW, and hopes to keep building its inclusive-minded community and continue empowering the next generation.

 

Sruti Bharat

Curriculum and Program Development

COMPASSION – LEARNING – AUTHENTICITY

Sruti has worked in project management, facilitation, and strategy for four years at OSIsoft, a software company. She graduated from UC Berkeley and is passionate about sustainability, social justice, and education in the East Bay community. Her strengths lie in understanding diverse perspectives, bringing teams together, and empowering individuals to be their best selves. She is currently getting her MBA from Kellogg School of Management in Chicago.

Jessica Bank

Curriculum Development

COMPASSION – RESILIENT – COMMUNITY

Jess studied to be an elementary school teacher but soon discovered a passion for working with teenage youth. She is so passionate about her work with non-profit organizations supporting low-income, first-generation, college-bound students that she joined G.R.O.W. as opportunity to give back even more. Jess believes in the need to understand and embrace diversity in life, as well as to continually practice self-improvement.

Lindsay Stanley

Curriculum Development

INSPIRATIONAL – OPTIMISTIC – OPEN-MINDED

Lindsay Stanley is a UC Berkeley student majoring in Social Welfare. Her involvement with G.R.O.W. began after her life changed from taking the A.I.M. class. She is a compassionate people person, energetic, and thrives on motivating others.

Kane Li

Curriculum Development

PASSIONATE – EMPATHETIC – POSITIVE

Kane believes in life-long learning and has a passion for supporting youth and professionals find their fullest potential. While studying psychology in college, Kane worked with a variety of organizations focused on education and mental health. She joined GROW’s curriculum development team to continue to give back to the community and support low-income, college-bound students.

Roberto Giannicola

Curriculum Design Consultant

ENGAGING – PASSIONATE – CARING

Roberto has a background in technology and instructional design, as well as in facilitating and coaching people for Presentation, Communication, Change Management, Leadership, Cultural Awareness and other soft skills. He worked with groups and audiences of virtually any size (though he admits that he gets a kick out of keeping large audiences utterly captivated). He has facilitated sessions developing people from a variety of industries and business situations for companies or organizations like: The United Nations World Food Program, Cisco, ASML, Oracle and Dale Carnegie training, among others. His passion is to help people grow and discover their hidden potential. To see the transformation that comes from this, with empowering experiences that resonate, is the real paycheck for him!

 

Joanna MartinezBay

Area Partnership Outreach

MOTIVATE-INNOVATE-INTEGRITY

After earning her degree in Sociology and African American Studies from UC Berkeley, Joanna began working at a non-profit providing educational, career, and mental health services to youth/young adults and the prison reentry population in the Bay Area. She grew up much the same way many of her current clients grew up–in a family struggling to make ends meet. This is where she gets her indelible passion for helping young people define and achieve their dreams in spite of hardship. Joanna is skilled at sparking a flame in anyone who wants to BE someone. Her interests span from leading talent development innovation to providing individual coaching for health and wellness. Joanna has been involved in teaching GROW’s AIM class and is the first certified GROW teacher. She continues to bring her expertise in organizational development and outreach as the CEO of FaM Consulting, a strategic GROW partner.

Deepti M.

Grant Writer

ANALYTICAL – INSIGHTFUL  – SINCERE

Deepti has a background in Education and Psychology with a focus on the development of college age students. Her doctoral studies and personal experiences have given her a strong foundation in the psychosocial and cultural factors involved in academic achievement. Deepti strongly believes that counseling and support is crucial for youth to have successful careers, regardless of their academic potential. Navigating the career labyrinth can be made easier with the right kind of help. GROW fills this critical gap and puts youth on the right career path.

Alexsis Lunn

Grant Writer

COMPASSIONATE – INQUISITIVE – DETERMINED

Currently studying Economics at Pennsylvania State University, Alexsis is passionate about creating equitable learning environments and opportunities for today’s underserved youth. Through grant writing, she is able to combine her love of writing and her strong empathy for those in need to creatively solve the funding needs of nonprofits. Alexsis enjoys serving her community through her involvement with Junior League and spending time with her family.

Rob Brown

Metrics Director

HOLISTIC – EVOLVING – WISDOM OF CROWDS

Rob has earned multidisciplinary PhD studies at Portland State University in Global Strategic Management, Innovation, Complexity Science and advanced parametric methods.  Spent a decade as a professor of Business and national/international consultant to private sector and public sector: local, state and federal.  Served as staff in U.S. Senate in nineties. Currently employed in Teleworker capacity as a Consultant and SME with a Federally Funded Research Development Corporation (nonprofit, @ 6 years).  Key areas of expertise: Complex systems, Innovation, Strategy & Fractal solutions to complex problems, Computational Modeling & Simulation, Financial & Operational Analytics.  Areas of application: Resilience, Education, Healthcare, Infrastructure, Sustainability, Public Sector Reform.

Na-Keta Michael

Social Media Manager

AMBITIOUS – COMPASSIONATE – INVESTIGATIVE

Na-Keta Cheri Michael is a Rutgers University graduate in which she obtained a Bachelors Degree in Economics and a Southern New Hampshire University graduate with a Masters in Communications (concentration in Public Relations). She currently works as an Adjuster for Foresters Financial but she finds most of her joy interning for GROW as their Social Media Manager. She enjoys playing volleyball, reading and watching college basketball.

Rachel Infante Finkelstein

Graphic Designer

CREATION – CURIOUS – ARTISTIC

Rachel is a graphic designer from the San Francisco Bay Area, currently residing in New York City. She graduated from Bard College in 2013 with a degree in Studio Arts and a Concentration in Mind, Brain, & Behavior. 

Al Palmer

Web Developer