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Meet Davina

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By Davina Lopez
Pivotal Scholar

I have been part of the Pivotal community since 2017, when it was Teen Force. Like most people, I’ve faced my share of hardships as well as victories.  There were times when I felt no hope for my future, convinced I wouldn’t be able to escape the statistics of being a foster youth.

For so long, I’d heard that a foster youth’s chances of graduating high school, let alone college, and finding a successful career were slim to none. But all that changed when I found Pivotal. I was paired with a coach, Sue Pires, who wholeheartedly...

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Meet Our Newest Board Members!

Three new board members have joined the Pivotal team this year! We’re so excited to introduce you to all of them!

Maribeth Portz has lived in the Bay Area since 1999 coming here to join the tech sector where she worked for both Intel and Apple.  She got to know her new community by joining the Junior League of San Jose (JLSJ) where she volunteered and collaborated with organizations such as the Children's Discovery Museum, Parents Helping Parents, Sunday Friends, and LifeMoves...

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Pivotal Launches "On the Move" Initiative to Expand Education and Career Support for Foster Youth

Campaign encompasses growth across counties, younger ages, and advocacy efforts 

SAN JOSE, Calif., - September 13, 2022 – Pivotal, the only nonprofit in Silicon Valley focused exclusively on meeting the educational and career needs of foster youth, today announced an expansion of services to reach a broader age range and wider geography. The Pivotal on the Move initiative encompasses three focus areas to expand impact. The agency, which has over 30 years of experience supporting...

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The Pivotal Experience

What is your personal brand? What is it really like to do the job you’re dreaming of? 

These are a couple of the questions we posed to our post-secondary students this summer. To help them find answers, they participated in the Pivotal Experience – a summer program that helps students get an in-depth understanding of the careers they’re interested in, understand, and develop their personal brand, and create strong resumes. The four-week experience culminates in an...

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Summer Challenge 2022

Every summer, we throw down the gauntlet for our high school students as they take on the Pivotal Summer Challenge. Designed to give our young people an outlet for self-expression and learning over the summer, the Summer Challenge provides students with prompts for activities they can do to stay active, learn more about the world and get to know themselves and the people around them a little better. 

Students select activities from a list of 16 in four different categories: Connect,...

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TAY Summit - Pivotal Scholars Pay it Forward

On Wednesday, August 3, 2022 Pivotal was proud to partner with San Mateo County Children and Family Services Independent Living Program and Central Labor Council Partnership to host the 16th Annual TAY (Transition Aged Youth) Summit.

The day provided an opportunity for young people from foster care to learn from and meaningfully connect with other current and former foster youth. Hosted at Beresford Park, the event included a fabulous picnic, outdoor recreational activities, and...

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Pivotal CEO Elise Cutini Recognized with Regional Jefferson Award for Public Service

We’re so excited to announce that Pivotal’s CEO Elise Cutini has been awarded a regional Jefferson Award for Public Service for the life-changing impact she has made in the lives of foster youth! 

The Jefferson Awards recognize individuals who are making a difference in their communities. Elise has led Pivotal for over 16 years and we’re thrilled to see her hard work and dedication acknowledged and honored! Check out the video below. 



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Pride Month and RISE

As we celebrate Pride month at Pivotal, we want to acknowledge the fact that a disproportionate percentage of foster youth – 30.4% - identify as LGBTQ+ as compared to 11.2% of youth not in foster care. In addition, 5% of foster youth identify as transgender, as compared to 1.17% of youth not in foster care. 

According to the Trevor Project, LGBTQ youth from foster care are 3 times more likely to report a past-year suicide attempt and have nearly 4 times greater odds of being...

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Preparing Pivotal scholars for their summer internships - Thank you Macy's!

As the days get warmer and the school year comes to an end, many students are taking the summer to relax and unwind. But for our Pivotal scholars, June means it’s time to get ready for summer internships. Our foster youth scholars love the Pivotal Internship Program which gives them hands-on professional experience that aligns with their career goals and allows them to earn some money over the summer months. And it’s a win-win - Silicon Valley employers who choose a Pivotal intern...

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Staff Spotlight - Laura Phelps

For me, it’s the little wins. It's not just looking at the big picture. When one of my students texts me, “I got my essay turned in on time” or “I’m getting an A in Math!” - that’s a win. 

I celebrate the little wins because I know what it is to “lose a kid”. I recently found out that one of the young people I work with is incarcerated. He was unhoused for a while. It’s just terrible especially when you’ve worked hard to...

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Staff Spotlight - Trinh Tong

I’ve worked at a lot of places but I especially enjoy being a part of the Pivotal family for its unique culture of positivity & inclusivity – you know you can be your authentic self and still get the job done.

I graduated from San Jose State University with a bachelor’s degree in social work last year. I knew right away that having hands-on experience was super important. I joined Pivotal as an intern coach supporting high school-aged foster youth with their academics...
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Young Professional's Conference 2022

On Saturday, March 26, we invited our Pivotal post-secondary scholars to join us for a day of collaboration, learning, and conversation at the 2022 Young Professional’s Conference. Although we hosted some small in-person events last year, this was the first major activity we’ve been able to host in-person since the start of the pandemic and we were so thrilled to be able to finally see students, staff, and volunteers face-to-face!

The conference provided students with an...

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