21 Years of Changing Realities
Reality Changers was founded in a church in 2001. The organization started with just a handful of 8th and 9th graders and a vision for college success. Piece-by-piece, student-by-student, it grew from there. The organization expanded as it drew in more families, more volunteers, more partners, and more funding.
Today, Reality Changers serves 8th through 12th graders, college students, and even early career professionals. We have helped more than 3,150 youth graduate from high school and go on to college.
Christopher Yanov founds Reality Changers.
The organization begins with just $300 in seed money at Iglesia Presbiteriana Hispana in Golden Hill.
Reality Changers sends its first two students to UC San Diego’s Academic Connections, a three-week on-campus program for high school students that is also in its inaugural year.
Reality Changers' first class of students graduates from high school.
Reality Changers moves to a new location in City Heights and begins offering programs three nights a week.
Reality Changers is incorporated as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and has 3.5 full-time employees by the end of the year.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visits Reality Changers and calls the program "a model for the nation."
Reality Changers hosts its first “Challenge Assembly” for 8th graders with GPAs of 2.0 and below. These assemblies become essential to the organization’s model of starting high-potential students on the college track before they even begin high school.
Mexico’s 55th President, Vincente Fox, visits Reality Changers for the first time. A cross-border partnership begins.
Reality Changers is featured in a nationwide PBS documentary called “The Graduates”.
At the San Diego premiere of the film, San Diego Unified School District Superintendent (and future Deputy Secretary at the US Department of Education), Cindy Marten, says, “When I talk about solutions that work, the gold standard… is Reality Changers”.
Reality Changers students meet with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Reality Changers receives UC San Diego’s Diversity Champion Award.
Reality Changers celebrates its 1000th program graduate. The graduating class of 2015 includes seven Gates Millennium Scholars.
The White House names Reality Changers a "Bright Spot in Hispanic Education."
Barbara Davenport writes "Grit and Hope," a book about Reality Changers' 2008-09 school year.
San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce names Reality Changers as San Diego’s Most Outstanding Nonprofit.
Reality Changers graduate Michael Gaulden publishes his memoir “My Way Home: Growing Up Homeless in America”.
Reality Changers celebrates its 2000th program graduate.
The San Diego City Council proclaims “Reality Changers Day in San Diego”.
Reality Changers’ Founder, Christopher Yanov, steps down as President. Board Chair, Kimberley Phillips Boehm fills in as Interim President during the search for a new President.
Reality Changers sends its 1000th student to UC San Diego’s Academic Connections program.
The Reality Changers Board of Directors concludes their search for a new CEO, bringing in Tamara Y. Carver, an education equity leader with more than 18 years of experience.
The COVID-19 pandemic forces Reality Changers to move all programming online for more than a year.
Reality Changers moves to a new location on the Wilson Middle School campus.
Reality Changers celebrates its 20th Anniversary AND its 3000th program graduate.
Reality Changers wins the “Outstanding Organization for Diversity and Inclusion Award” from the Association of Fundraising Professionals, San Diego Chapter.