Founders Alan and Donna Rowe, natives of Sacramento, California, both grew up in the community of Del Paso Heights and attended Grant Union High School from which they graduated, and later Alan served for 13 years on the Board of Trustees of the then- Grant Joint High School District, now Twin Rivers Unified School District.
A lifelong activist, Alan was a member of the Black Student Union at then- Sacramento State College, now California State University at Sacramento, where he participated in student activities that resulted in the formation of the Black Studies Department at Sacramento State. Alan is a graduate of Sacramento State University and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology.
During 36 years in public service for the State of California, Alan continued to be active in numerous community boards, committees and organizing groups, including Black Advocates in State Services, a statewide advocacy group for state workers; the Coalition of California Black School Board Members, the National Caucus of Black School Board Members, and many other community and service organizations.
In 1988, Alan and his wife Donna founded the United College Action Network, Inc. (U-CAN) and became a catalyst for students to attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). In 1994, U-CAN was incorporated as a501© (3) non-profit. Under their leadership, U-CAN has provided college prep services and leadership development to more than 56,000 students, of which 20,000 have attended HBCUs, and some 16,000 received scholarships totaling $55 million from U-CAN’s HBCU partners.
Together the Rowe’s visualized and actualized the U-CAN concept of removing barriers to college by making historical black colleges and universities a gateway to education for African American students denied entry or who could not afford to attend California schools of higher education.
“The wind beneath his wings”, his wife of 44 years, Donna retired after working 34-years as an employee of the State of California where she served as Chief of Administrative Services for 20 years. Often working behind the scenes, using her professional skills to provide invaluable support to U-CAN in the areas of human resources and office development, and organizational structure and procedures, currently serves as Chief Administrative Officer of U-CAN.
Both Donna and Alan are recipients of numerous awards and recognition for their many accomplishments related to assisting students to attend four-year historically black colleges and universities after high school graduation. Alan’s work, commitment, and long-term support of historically black colleges and universities and fostering and encouragement of academic achievement of young African American students has been well-documented by numerous awards, proclamations, and recognition from community groups, elected officials, and various professional organizations, most notably are the bestowing of an Honorary Doctorate degree from Grambling State University in 1990 and in 2013 the opening and dedication of the Alan Rowe College Prep Academy, a Fortune School, for elementary students in Elk Grove, California.
Alan and Donna high school sweetheart have two adult sons, T’Shaka and Tsean, and five grandchildren. Additionally, the couple has served as surrogate parents to hundreds of students through U-CAN and often refers to U-CAN as their third child.
Barbara Evans joined UCAN in 2013 as an organizational consultant after coming out of retirement. She has over 40 years of experience in education with Elk Grove USD, Inglewood USD, and in North Carolina. During her career in education, she has served as a teacher, counselor, federal project coordinator, assistant principal (elementary, middle and high school), interim principal, District office administrator and university instructor.
Barbara is most proud of her work as an Educational Equity and Diversity Coach/Trainer, as well as her work in site instructional leadership, assisting and coaching dozens of teachers and administrators now successfully managing schools and districts. She holds a Bachelors and Master’s degree in Education; with California credentials for Administrative Services, Pupil Personnel Services, Multiple Subjects Teaching, and CLAD.
Roanna Krisko came to U-CAN via AARP in 2009. She has a strong passion for the work U-CAN accomplishes and enjoys sharing her wealth of experience in customer service and office management. After her tenure with AARP ended, she continued to volunteer for the organization. When U-CAN moved to its current office in the new Alan Rowe College Prep School, Roanna returned as an employee of the organization and she proudly states, “I have never regretted a day here.”
Jasmine Cooper joined the U-CAN team in March of 2016 as the Administrative Assistant. Prior to coming to U-CAN she has had over six years of experience as an executive assistant. Ms. Cooper is a Sacramento native and currently is pursuing her Liberal Studies degree to become an elementary school teacher. With over 900 hours of community service serving disadvantaged youth, Ms. Cooper has made the well-being of students her top priority and continues to do such in her daily duties here at U-CAN.
Angelice Ferrell joined UCAN in August, 2016 as a College Guidance Specialist. Previously, she worked with the California Black Chamber of Commerce as an Intern coordinator, project manager of the Chamber’s annual Youth Entrepreneurial and Scholarship Summit, and Marketing Director for the Chamber Foundation’s community radio station, 97.5KDEE-FM.
Angelice is a California State University, Sacramento graduate, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Deaf Studies, American Sign Language. Angelice hopes to one day work with young Deaf Children that are in the Foster Care System to help them find placement in homes with Deaf guardians, who are able to offer them a sense of equality and the ability to experience their cultural heritage.
Angelice is proud to have stayed in Sacramento after high school to go to college, so that she could play the role as “sister-mom” to her brother Keith, and sisters, Jasmine and Jordyn.
Mark Hamlett is a College Guidance Technician for United College Action Network(U-CAN). Before working for U-CAN he previously worked as a full-time Program Coordinator for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Sacramento where he specialized in educational and professional development for the teen population. Mark is a native of the Los Angeles Area he moved to Sacramento in 2009 to attend California State University Sacramento. In addition to school and work, he is a devoted member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated.
Veronica Williams is a U-CAN alumna and former staff member at Roberts Family Development Center. She is now one of the new College Guidance Technicians at U-CAN. She is also a Sacramento native who graduated from Sacramento Charter High School in 2010. After graduation, she attended California State University Sacramento obtaining a Bachelors of Arts degree in Ethnic Studies, concentration in Pan African Studies, with a double minor in Cultural Anthropology and Sociology. Next step in her educational endeavors is a Masters degree in Social Work. While being in college she was apart of Black Student Union, Cooper Woodson College Enhancement Program, Sacramento NAACP college and youth chapter, Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program, and National Council of Negro Women.
Franklin Withrow has worked with U-CAN for over 20 years as an Education Consultant. He is a published poet, retired educator and motivation speaker. Frank was born and educated in Washington, D.C. and attended Fayetteville State Teacher’s College where he received his B.S. degree in Business Education in 1969. Frank returned to Washington and served as Director of the Neighborhood Youth Corps for the Recreation Department from 1969 to 1971. He also taught for the D.C. Public Schools in 1971 and 1972.
Frank has received numerous awards and honors, including being named poet laureate for the Western Province of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Teacher of the Year for the Mental Retardation Association of Sacramento, the Western Province Achievement Award of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Sacramento’s Educator of the Year for the Black Educators for Action, the Black is Beautiful Outstanding Educator Award. And in 1997 he was inducted into the International Educational Hall of Fame.