Crystal's existing project SPACE 4 US connects underprivileged middle and high school students with professional resources in San Francisco. SPACE 4 US organizes free interactive career panels, workshops and webinars for students to speak with professionals from different career fields and participate in fun job simulation activities. SPACE 4 US partners with local nonprofit organizations that serve disadvantaged youth and brings career exploration activities to these organizations. Crystal will use the funds to organize field trips to allow students to shadow professionals at different companies in the Bay Area.Updates from Crystal
Hello Riley’s Way Foundation family and supporters! My name is Crystal Chan, and I’m a rising high school senior from San Francisco, California. I’m honored to be a recipient of the Riley’s Way Call for Kindness award, and I’m excited to be a part of this wonderful cohort of young changemakers dedicated to inspiring kindness around the world.
When I first heard about the Call for Kindness initiative, I was seeking funding to expand my project SPACE 4 US
, so it was the perfect timing. After reading and learning more about the mission of Riley’s Way Foundation, I knew the Call for Kindness was something I had to get involved with. The values of Riley’s Way resonated with me because I believe that kindness and empathy can positively change the world.
I see kindness as a transformative force that can change an individual’s life for the better. Kindness in a young person’s life has a tremendous life-long impact. Having grown up in an under-resourced community, I’ve experienced and witnessed the disadvantages of coming from a low-income background. I understand the importance of mentorship and guidance for students who come from similar socioeconomic backgrounds as me.
I am fortunate to have supportive mentors in my life who reach out to share life advice, who help me when I encounter challenges, and who encourage me to pursue my goals. The mentors in my life are selfless and don’t ask for anything in return - they’re kind-hearted, compassionate people who want to see me succeed and reach my fullest potential. Because of their kindness, I feel empowered to pay it forward by becoming a champion for other underprivileged students.
Coming from a family with parents who didn’t get to go to college, don’t speak English and work in low-paying jobs, I often feel lost when thinking about future career options. The adults in my life work minimum wage and blue collar jobs that come with poor job security, so I have limited exposure to different career paths. I don’t have the luxury of getting guidance on how to navigate our complex educational system and forge a path to a fulfilling career. Compared to more well-off students, I simply don’t have access to the same social networks or connections that can introduce me to the diverse career opportunities out there. Many of my peers from similar socioeconomic backgrounds feel the same way. We don’t know what we want to pursue and we want to explore different career paths, but we lack the resources to do so.
To help underprivileged students get exposure to different career opportunities, I founded an organization called SPACE 4 US. SPACE 4 US connects underprivileged middle and high school students with professional resources in the San Francisco Bay Area. We organize interactive career panels, workshops and webinars to give students a chance to speak with professionals from different fields and participate in job simulation activities.
Since starting SPACE 4 US last summer, I’ve secured over $15,000 in funding, organized three career exploration events, partnered with four nonprofit organizations, and built a community of over 120 students and 50 professionals. And we are just getting started.
Over the next couple of months, I will work on expanding our work at SPACE 4 US to other school campuses and states to reach more students. I hope to build a movement surrounding early career exploration for disadvantaged young people. When young people are given the resources and opportunities to succeed, they can break out of the poverty cycle and build a better future for themselves, their families, and their communities.
I envision SPACE 4 US not only as a vehicle for obtaining professional knowledge and connections, but also as a catalyst for social change. Through SPACE 4 US, I am taking a first step in helping to solve economic inequality by empowering students in my community to pursue a career that brings them both professional fulfillment and financial stability. I believe that the opportunity to access a fulfilling career is a basic human right and I want to ensure that all young people have equal access to the professional knowledge, connections, and experience to do so.
My experience running SPACE 4 US is most fulfilling because I know the difference it is making. Kindness pays forward and multiplies, and can cause a ripple effect. Kindness is a gift that keeps on giving, and I want to continue spreading kindness to those around me. Riley’s Way is a wonderful platform for me and other passionate young people to continue this cycle of kindness in our communities and in our world.