BrightTrack is a nonprofit organization that provides no-cost college admissions advising through mentorship to all students, especially to youth from under-resourced and low-income backgrounds, because we believe equal access to these resources promotes equality in success.

Photo by Jon Chase for the Harvard University Gazette


Our mission is to help students like you navigate and shine in the competitive and complex world of college admissions.

Real college admissions support shouldn't just be for the wealthy or well-connected.



We'll provide you with a holistic academic assessment and mentor you through the entire college admissions process.

Besides admissions advising, campus tours, and scholarships, a major part of the mentorship program is the Capstone Project.



Our program reviews and accepts new students three times a year:

Spring: May 1st

Fall: August 1st

Winter: December 1st



This is
our story.

BrightTrack was born from a shared belief that college advising shouldn't be reserved just for students from families with unlimited resources. Getting into a top college - or the right college - is a life-changing accomplishment that every bright and determined student should have the opportunity to pursue.

With the diversity of our personal, academic, and professional experiences, our mentors are passionate about providing free comprehensive college admissions advising and support to all, especially high school students from under-resourced and low-income backgrounds. We also realize that in order to achieve this, our work in promoting the appreciation of higher education through outreach, partnerships, and scholarships is equally important.

BrightTrack's hope is to level the college admissions playing field so that all students have the opportunity to nurture their full potential. Yes, the goal of making higher education accessible to all is that important.

Percent higher salary for
college graduates vs
non-college graduates

(U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Number of high school students
per every 1 counselor

(U.S. Department of Education)
Number of top 20 colleges
with free tuition programs
for low-income students


Meet the Team

Dennis Anzano

Dennis co-founded BrightTrack with his wife, Paula. His path to appreciating higher education was a rocky one that almost didn't start. Growing up, he and his family moved often and in high school, the goal of attending college was furthest from his mind. A chance meeting with a passionate counselor changed that. As a Research Fellow in her study, Dennis helped analyze the success of high school career centers in preparing students for college. He then went on to earn his Bachelor's degree from U.C. Berkeley and analyzed policy at the Roosevelt Institute, a student-led think tank. As an undergraduate, he attended Harvard University as a Visiting Scholar to continue studying Public Policy with the hope of one day affecting positive social change. Today, Dennis works on policy at Google while pursuing a Master's degree at Stanford University. His belief in the tremendous impact of having a college degree is what drives him to developing BrightTrack and giving all students the best chances at success.


Paula Galvez-Anzano

Paula co-founded BrightTrack with Dennis. At a very young age she was separated from her parents and eventually reunited. Through the years, she began to understand the scope of the hard work and sacrifice of her parents. Her parents left Philippines for America to give their six children better opportunities; it was this principle that motivated Paula to work hard in school to get into a university. Initially, Paula navigated through the system alone but eventually found support along the way through college-bound programs and school counselors. She went on to attend U.C. Davis where she earned a Bachelor's degree in Human Development and pursued a Master's degree in Education with an emphasis in Counseling. For the past 8 years, Paula's career revolved around making higher education more accessible as a social services provider. She developed a transitional program to assist foster youth in becoming independent, college-bound students. Needless to say, her passion for supporting students that are under-resourced get into college continues today.




Our advisory board helps steer the ship. From all walks of life and accomplished leaders in their communities, they all share a passion to equalize academic opportunities for all students. Without these generous individuals, our mission of making higher education more accessible would not be possible.


Peter Samuelson
Managing Director
USC Media Institute for
Social Change

Peter Samuelson has thirty years experience at the intersection of media and social change. Peter is a graduate of Cambridge University with a Masters in English Literature and the fourth of five family generations employed in the film industry. A member of the initial board of Participant Media, Samuelson has produced and executive produced 25 motion pictures including Wilde, Arlington Road, Revenge of the Nerds, and Tom & Viv, as well as television and interactive media. In 1982, Samuelson founded the Starlight Children's Foundation, a leading multi-national charity now serving 4.6 million seriously ill children and their families each year. In 1995, Samuelson and Steven Spielberg co-founded Starbright World, the first fully interactive multi-media, online social network, a virtual playground for ill children that still operates 24 hours a day. In 1999 Peter co-founded, a national advocacy non-profit representing abused and neglected children and, in 2006, he launched, a non-profit that provides single-user portable housing to our nation's urban homeless. Peter has lectured extensively on philanthropic entrepreneurship and pro-social media. He served as Chairman of the Executive Committee of Panavision, Inc. and serves on the Committee that selects the winners of the Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting of the Academy of Motion Picture. In April 2012, Peter Samuelson was appointed by the University of Southern California as the first Managing Director of the Media Institute for Social Change.

Kristel Acacio, PhD
Project Director
Alameda County Health Care Services Agency

Kristel Acacio has long had a passion for higher education, diversity and mentoring. She comes to BrightTrack with over 15 years of experience in mentoring high school, community college, and university students for college education and graduate studies. While earning her Ph.D. in Sociology at U.C. Berkeley, she taught formal courses in Graduate School Mentoring and specialized in outreach to diverse students. After finishing her doctorate in 2011, Kristel went on to pursue a career in public service. She currently works as Project Director at Alameda County Health Care Services Agency. One initiative she leads is the Fire Station Health Center project which intends to build health clinics on the grounds of fire stations throughout the County.

Alex De Marzi
Vice President
Morgan Stanley

Alex De Marzi, a first generation immigrant knew from a very young age that he wanted to attend a university and be successful in order to make all his parents' sacrifices worth it. He was always motivated because he saw his parents work multiple hard manual labor jobs in order for him and his brother to have all the opportunities that were available here in the United States. For his undergraduate, Alex attended the University of California – Santa Barbara where he attained his degree in Economics. Since graduating, Alex has worked for 10 years in the financial industry where he has had the opportunity to work with corporations from all over the world. He has built a strong reputation in his field and has spoken at various industry events around the world, sharing his expertise on the Agricultural and Energy commodity markets. He is always thankful for all the opportunities he has received and looks forward to helping the next generations in any way he can.

Ben Salkowe, MEd
Co-Founder and Leader
The Scholars Working
OverTime Team

Challenged and inspired by his parents, both first generation college graduates, Ben earned his Bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College in 2007 and joined Teach For America as a fifth grade teacher in East Las Vegas. Although his students led the state in achievement, Ben quickly realized it was not enough to overcome the obstacles they would face in their struggling middle and high schools. After completing a Masters in Education at UNLV in 2009, he co-founded The Scholars Working OverTime (SWOT) Team as a more rigorous “school-within-a-school” for 50 at-risk students willing to make an extraordinary commitment to their education. The SWOT Team became the first extended-day, college-prep program for fifth graders in Las Vegas and has since grown to serve over 200 students through seventh grade. Today, Ben is working with his team to launch the first college-prep charter school for families in East Las Vegas. Some say “It’s impossible.” But his scholars have learned to counter that often times “Impossible is not.”

Jevon Conroy, JD

Jevon Conroy recognized the value of education at an early age. His mother learned English as a second language and was the first person in her family to go to college. His father did not have the opportunity to receive a formal higher education, but his hard work ensured that his son had every opportunity to earn a college degree. Jevon attended Wheaton College in Massachusetts, earning a B.A. in history, Magna Cum Laude. During his undergraduate study, he was a visiting scholar at Harvard College. Jevon is currently in his last semester at Duke University School of Law, where he will earn a J.D. Jevon has worked as a full-time academic coach and fervently believes in the transformative power of higher education.



What's it About?

Our no-cost college admissions mentorship program provides long-term and comprehensive advising to high school students that apply and are admitted. Upon successful admission into the program, your mentor will create a detailed initial assessment of your college application profile.

Depending upon when you enter our mentorship program, we will work with you to determine next steps and recommendations based on the schools and programs you're interested in attending. Your mentor will also guide you on how to implement these recommendations. During this period, if interested (and live in the San Francisco Bay Area), you'll have the opportunity to attend local college and company tours we organize. Perhaps the most important and exciting component to the program, the Capstone Project, takes place the summer between your junior and senior years. The Capstone Project will allow you to brainstorm, plan, and execute a major project of your choosing. Projects can range from writing a book to starting a business to designing a science project. There are no limits to the scope of your endeavor. And once the time comes, we'll advise you on putting together the best college application possible. Lastly, we'll be happy to join you in celebrating your achievements.

With the exception of local college and company tours, our mentorship program is entirely virtual in order to maximize our reach and impact. Our mentors utilize the most current college and admissions information available as well as draw from their diverse personal and professional backgrounds. Most importantly, once in the program, mentorship is one-to-one, individually tailored, and continues through to successful admittance.

We'll be there to inspire, motivate, and support you through every step of the college admissions process.



Nuts & Bolts

Applying to our mentorship program as early as your sophomore year in high school will make the most of our counseling services, however you're free to apply at any point in your last three years of high school (sophomore to senior year). The point at which you apply has no bearing on our review of your application into the program.

That said, here's a general outline of what you can expect:

Apply - Complete and submit our online application. You can expect to hear back from us within 3 weeks of the application deadline.
Assessment - Once admitted, you'll be introduced to your mentor and asked for additional information. Your mentor will send you a detailed assessment of your profile as a college applicant and discuss with you any recommendations and improvements.
Build - You and your mentor will work together on building your profile by working towards accomplishing various goals we've recommended.
Capstone Project - With our support, you'll think up, plan, and execute a project of your choosing. There are no limits to what you can hope to accomplish, but our only requirement is that it's something you're passionate about.
Test Prep (optional) - Although we don't directly provide standardized testing (SAT, ACT, etc.) preparation, we'll do our best to provide you with free or affordable test prep resources and services if needed.
Application - Lastly, we'll take a good look at your application holistically and work with you to create a compelling narrative that best presents your hard work, uniqueness, and academic potential.


Scholarships Too

At the end of each school year, scholarships will be awarded to two graduating students enrolled in our mentorship program. Awarded scholars will be selected by a panel of mentors and advisory board members.

Karl Robinson Entrepreneurial Scholarship
This scholarship will be awarded to a graduating student that exemplifies an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit.

Riccah Anne Aligada Educational Scholarship
This scholarship will be awarded to a graduating student that expresses great interest and potential in pursuing a career in education.



The Process


We're always accepting applications to our college admissions mentorship program. Three times a year we come together as a committee to review all applications received by that due date to admit new students into our program. Application due dates will remain the same each year:

  • Spring applications are due May 1st
  • Fall applications are due August 1st
  • Winter applications are due December 1st


When can I expect to hear back about my application?
You can expect to hear back from us within 3 weeks of the application due date.

Are there any application requirements or ideal applicants?
Although we review and accept all types of applicants, accepted candidates are typically the following:

  • Within their last three years of high school (sophomore to senior year)
  • From a low-income or under-resourced background
  • Have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA
  • Aspiring to attend a four-year college or university

Are your college counseling services really free?
Yes. We believe that premium college admissions advising should be free to all.

What if I don't live in the San Francisco Bay Area?
That's perfectly fine. Because our advising almost entirely takes place virtually (ie. email, video chat, phone) we're happy to work with you no matter where you are in the US. However, our in-person college campus and company tours are held in the bay area.

The Form

The following application form and any personal information you submit within it is securely encrypted and will not be viewed or shared with anyone outside of the BrightTrack organization and its board members. We'll ask for your expressed consent before sharing any personal information or photos for the purposes of promoting the organization and your achievements. If you're interested in learning more about how your information will be used, please see our terms of service and privacy policy.



"If you think education is expensive, try ignorance."
- Derek Bok, former President of Harvard University


Because BrightTrack is a nonprofit organization and our goal is to provide no-cost college advising to all, especially high school students from under-resourced and low-income backgrounds, nearly all of the donations we receive go right back into maintaining our scholarships, campus tours, and outreach programs. We're managed and advised by kind-hearted volunteers and our mentors - as bright and valuable as they are - are also passionate volunteers.





One of the most impactful and free ways to support BrightTrack and our mission is to help spread the word. We hate spending money on things like advertising and marketing just to reach the high school students most in need of our free services. By sharing our site, liking our social networking pages, or retweeting our posts, you can help us reach out to folks we may have otherwise missed.








Our passionate and accomplished volunteer mentors are at the heart of BrightTrack's mission to provide premium college admissions counseling at no cost to all high school students, especially those that are under-resourced. If our mission sounds like something you can be committed to then we'd love to have you on our team. We accept new mentors throughout the year.




We'd love to
hear from you!

If you would like to reach out to us for any reason please feel free to use the contact form below. We'd love to hear your thoughts, suggestions, and any interest you have in partnering with us or ways to help spread the word.

Copyright © 2014, BrightTrack. All Rights Reserved.


Privacy Policy
We respect your privacy and personal information. BrightTrack will not share or sell your information to any party and all information shared with us will remain confidential, used only for the purposes of advising by members of our organization and its promotion, but only with the explicit consent of the individual. If you have any additional questions about how your information may be used, please don't hesitate to contact us.