Mission & Vision

Our mission is to empower first-generation and/or low-income (FGLI) students and professionals nationwide to achieve their full potential by providing life and career advice, lists of support resources and mentorship opportunities through a technology platform with online tools. This platform is built for and by FGLI students, providing a real-life business and professional experience.

As we build this online platform, we envision a future where we close the achievement gap by increasing the graduation rate for FGLI college students to be closer to 77% than the current 9% (Source) and where no FGLI student has to navigate their path alone. We hope to be the first place they look when they need help in navigating the unfamiliar, don't know the right questions to ask, or want to connect to someone who's been through the same challenges they are encountering.Together as a community, we aim to support and empower this segment of our future leaders.


The idea for Rise First started as a vision from our founder, Cindy Rentala, to help more first-generation, low-income (FGLI) students to achieve their full potential. As an FGLI graduate herself, Cindy has mentored many FGLI students over the years. She noticed that with colleges and universities enrolling more FGLI students every year, the demand for support is growing. Though there are many national and local support programs, the most impactful programs only serve certain large cities or have limited capacity, leaving many underserved. In addition, there is no one-stop destination (or an easier way) to search for information and resources for FGLI students. Rise First was formed to fill this gap.

After drafting the initial business plan, during the February 2018 1vyG Conference at the University of Pennsylvania (her alma mater), Cindy recruited three FGLI students to join her on this passion project. A month later, the team grew to five students. Since one of the key missions of Rise First is to use the platform to help FGLI students hone real life business skills, the core team primarily consists of FGLI student volunteers serving as Vice-President, Chief Operations Officer, Treasurer, as well as heads of Design and Content. In a few short months, Rise First quickly went from a vision to a blueprint.

Though we are incredibly proud of our work to date, we are only at the beginning stage of our journey to achieve our goal of building a curated resource center and online community to serve FGLI students.We welcome you to join us on this journey.