Breakfast BLAST 2019

For the last 19 years, a group called Long Beach BLAST has been pairing mentors with challenged high school students.

Getting a high school diploma is the first goal, but the nonprofit has become justly famous for also getting students into college. Last year alone, BLAST worked with 298 11th and 12th grade students — 68% of those students applied to college; 70% graduated from high school.

That's on top of the 549 youngsters k-12 provided with mentors during the 2017-18 school year. Those mentors were recruited from Cal State Long Beach, Cal State Dominguez Hills and Long Beach City College.

"BLAST has also been serving Long Beach youth long enough, that we are now seeing former mentees serving as BLAST mentors. How amazing is this!" BLAST executive director Lilaina Real said. "Also, by the end of 2018, we have matched 9,540 mentors and served 14,697 youth since 2000."

To celebrate all that success, BLAST will host its annual Breakfast BLAST next Wednesday at Long Beach Yacht Club. There will be celebrations for students moving on to college next fall, along with speeches and tales about the program.

"We host the fundraising breakfast for sponsors, donors and other BLAST supporters, to thank them for their contributions and to bring awareness to the community," Real said. "As part of the annual breakfast, we also showcase one of our superstar mentor-mentee matches from our Academic Mentoring Program and a Bridge to Success program student, who have compelling stories to tell."

The full breakfast is served beginning at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, April  10. The keynote speaker this year is Dr. Juan Benitez, the newest Long Beach Unified School District board member and the executive director at the Cal State Long Beach Center for Community Engagement (where some mentors are recruited). LBCC Professor Paul Savoie is the guest speaker.

Awards will be made to Edison International (Funder of the Year), Secure Transportation (Corporation of the Year), Dr. Fay Shin, professor at the Cal State Long Beach Department of Teacher Education (Faculty Partner of the Year) and Troy Bennett, principal at Beach High School (Site Partner of the Year).

The breakfast is a fundraiser, and Real said there still are tickets and sponsorships available. Individual tickets are $75 and a table of eight sponsorship is $700.

For more information and to buy tickets, go to www.lbblast.org.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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