Our Story


Discover how Reality Changers’ Founder, Christopher Yanov, turned an idea into a program that has helped thousands of inner city youth become first generation college graduates.

College Changes Everything

Earlier this year, I asked a struggling 8th grader how it would feel if he were accepted into Reality Changers. Without hesitation came his response: “Words haven’t been invented yet.” I echo these sentiments when trying to quantify my gratitude towards everyone who has supported Reality Changers over the years, because it’s all of you that have helped us (like our students) defy the odds and prosper.

It all started in 2001 with a handful of eighth and ninth graders that I recruited at Ray A. Kroc Middle School, where I worked at the time as a substitute teacher. I ran the program solo, supported by a few college-student tutors. Back then, program was held in the Hispanic Presbyterian Church, near downtown San Diego. With minimal help, funding, and students in attendance, there were times I wasn’t sure if the program was going to take.

Flash-forward to today:

Nearly two decades later, Reality Changers now serves nearly 1,000 youth
from disadvantaged backgrounds in Southern California every year.


Headquartered in a neighborhood described once described as “the rotting core of America’s Finest City,” Reality Changers has developed a nationally-recognized, three-stage college access program that changes realities for high-potential, inner city youth.

Since starting with just $300 in seed money, Reality Changers has served 2,000 graduates

– including 29 Gates Scholars – who have earned over $140,000,000 in scholarship from all sources.


Reality Changers aims to scale its programs so that we can provide even more youth with the academic support, financial assistance, and leadership training to become college graduates.

Our vision is to create universal access to college, one community at a time.
Please join this effort so we can succeed together!

Who We Serve

Some people view gangs, poverty, violence, homelessness, and refugee camps as obstacles. Our students use such circumstances as the inspiration to become college graduates.

Our Approach

When Reality Changers began, the focus shifted away from talking about the dangers of drugs and gangs and instead became solely focused on how to build first generation college students.

Life-Changing Results

We are proud to share the 28-page report of our first independent program evaluation!

How You Can Help

Our vision and ultimate goal is to create universal access to college, one community at a time. Help us make this a reality. Become an Agent of Change today.

Our Next Chapter

" I am delighted to share the news that Reality Changers has reached an important and exciting milestone: the individual who founded the organization no longer has to lead it. As such, I have stepped down as the organization’s president and have taken on the role of Founder & Senior Advisor. "