Benerd alumnus working to enrich education opportunities for Bay Area youth
Terrence Riley ’11 has become a pillar in the Bay Area community through his dedication to the Aim High program. The program is a tuition free academic summer camp that is offered on 18-campuses in and around the Bay Area, and has over 2,500 students who participate. The organization, which was founded in 1986, started by servicing 50 students at one site, and has expanded into an engaging and challenging academic service that helps children prepare for success in high school and beyond.
“Our multi-summer program is dedicated to the educational enrichment of our students. We teach math, science, and humanities,” stated Riley, who is the vice president of programs. “We also explore ‘issues and choices’ as well as provide room for the arts and sports.”
Aim High also provides tuition free services starting in middle school to children who come from high need communities in order to provide opportunities that may not necessarily be present otherwise.
Riley has a special tie to the program since he was also a program attendee, and attributes the summer program for helping cultivate his own success. He would go on to earn his degree in economics from the University of Southern California and later attended University of the Pacific, where he earned his Master of Arts in Educational Administration and Leadership.
Riley credits much of the success in his career to the support he received in Pacific's Educational Administration and Leadership program. He said, “The staff and faculty were exceptional, especially since I was commuting from San Francisco for class. The cohort experience was beneficial to my learning and growth, and I am continuing to hone my skills I received from the program.”
Riley, who left his job in the movie industry years ago, wanted a career in a non-profit environment. He specifically wanted to focus on education in order to make an impact on the communities that are the most vulnerable.
“Aim High exists to combat summer learning loss, which is the amount of information that students lose over the summer months, and this loss is most acutely felt amongst low-income students and communities,” said Riley. “Through our work, we are able to put students in a position to successfully matriculate to and through college. Our graduates go on to graduate from high school on time at a rate of 98% as opposed to the 76% national average for low-income students.”
Riley hopes to continue to expand Aim High despite the challenges of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
"Our vision is to close the opportunity and achievement gaps throughout Northern California through our summer learning programs," said Riley. "We envision every middle school student having access to joyful summer learning, inspired and innovative teachers, and the support they need to succeed in school and life."