Empowering Underserved Middle Schoolers to Succeed

By Giving List Staff   |   November 18, 2022
Mentor/tutor Elodie working with her 7th grade student, Jocelyn, in South L.A.

On the night their 13-year-old daughter Emily was murdered, Michel and Ellen Shane thought of a way to memorialize her – a website that would encourage and chronicle people’s good deeds. Soon after, their inbox was flooded with testimonies from community members, strangers, and kids who attended middle school with Emily.

A year later, Michel and Ellen evolved this simple project highlighting good deeds into The Emily Shane Foundation, a nonprofit that empowers underserved middle schoolers at risk of academic failure via its Successful Educational Achievement Program (SEA). The program provides both individualized tutoring and mentorship for struggling students in the mainstream classroom, like Emily. The program aims to equalize disparities in accessing resources to allow all students to attain their best academic potential. 

 “I felt compelled to do something… something that would be significant to Emily and help others,” says Ellen Shane, co-founder of the foundation.

From a modest start in 2012, with three students at one school, it grew rapidly to the current 13 sites throughout Los Angeles and Ventura counties. To date, the SEA Program has supported 1,000 middle school students.

SEA Program student Dominic with his mentor/tutor Matthew at the Westchester site.

“We would love to grow and reach even more children, and we’re also seeking to increase resources for our SEA Program to ensure a sustainable future,” Ellen says. 

While there are many after-school programs that help kids with homework, what makes the SEA Program stand out is their one-on-one approach to both mentoring and tutoring for at least one hour, twice a week, with an emphasis on organizational and study skills, as well. This approach is comprehensive and focuses on the whole student.  

Mentors/tutors have access to students’ online school portals so they can view their grades, upcoming assignments, etc. and so they know where to focus their efforts to guide their students to improve. The mentors/tutors also advocate for students to their educators who may not see the challenges they have at home or beyond. 

“Middle school is a critical time to catch a student who is failing,” Ellen says. 

Mentors/tutors are typically college students who can relate to the struggles these middle schoolers are facing. Many of the mentors/tutors have been where these kids are – unsure of themselves, unaware of their potential, and in need of attention and guidance – and who realize the necessity of outside-the-classroom support in order to achieve success. 

To honor Emily’s gracious spirit, kids who participate in SEA are asked to share two good deeds (one per SEA Program session) that they performed during the week – the same way Michel and Ellen began their foundation. This embraces the foundation’s “Pass it Forward” motto, and fosters kindness and social consciousness in these youth.

“If another child sat alone at the lunch table, Emily invited them to sit with her,” Michel says. “Emily transcended cliques.”


The Emily Shane Foundation

Donate now!

Matching Funds Challenge

You Can Help ESF Serve More Students. Thanks to generous supporters, for every dollar you donate, a dollar will be matched to fund the SEA Program, up to a total of $65,000*.

Helping our foundation reach this goal will make it possible for us to reach and serve more students, and to operate at maximum effectiveness. Your support will truly allow us to help equalize educational disparity, and make it possible for struggling middle schoolers to attain academic success. Middle school is a key time when help with serious learning deficits and acquiring the skills necessary to be a successful student are critical.

(213) 290-5441
Executive Director: Ellen Shane


Our driving mission is to support local, disadvantaged students with the educational resources they need to thrive in middle school and beyond. We not only offer individualized academic coaching and mentorship, but we work hard to build relationships that are positive and lasting.

Begin to Build a Relationship

We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s director of development and/or Executive Director.

As an educator for one of the largest school districts in the nation, I can attest to the vital need for students to have support, such as mentors/tutors, beyond the scope of the classroom (teacher). The Emily Shane Foundation provides necessitous students with the opportunities and resources needed to achieve academic and personal success. This foundation works to close the opportunity gap, a systematic issue, existing within the educational system, existing within my own classroom. This foundation is a vehicle in which I can work on this disparity on a more macro level.

Ms. Sabina Goldstein
ESF Board Member and Educator 

Lifting Students Up Before They Fail

When you donate $1,000, you provide an entire year of support for a struggling or failing middle school student who has no other recourse. Children have access to one-on-one caring, learning and guidance. The Emily Shane Foundation sets children on a positive pathway so they may achieve the academic success that is directly related to reaching their goals and dreams.

Key Supporters

Carolynn and Kevin Cozen
Mr. Jeffrey Edell 
and Mrs. Elaine Hastings Edell
Richard and Lisa Ellis
Karen and Cameron Farrer
Mr. and Mrs. Michael Garrison
Emily Schmidt Goldstein
and Dr. Mitchell Goldstein
Dorothy Lucey
and David Goldstein
Jennifer Michelle Josephine Hardy
and Christopher James Parke
Deborah Zara Kobylt and John Kobylt
Kathy and Laird Landmann
Kendall and Amy Raine
Shamra and Brian Strange
Peggy and Robert Shapiro
Kristin and Curtis Swindal
Steven and Dana Weinberg
Diane and Rob Wilkins