Former LAPD Officer Founds Rising Stars Business Academy To Help All Children Succeed – Press Enterprise


As a former Los Angeles police officer working on the streets, Alicia Berridge developed a passion for underserved youth who needed special attention. When she returned to Moreno Valley in 2010, she wanted to create a way to give all children a chance to be successful. She therefore founded the Rising Stars Business Academy.

RSBA trains participants in life skills that include leadership, coping, anger management, substance abuse, entrepreneurship, college resources, and job training. Young people who attend the RSBA are all required to work to earn high school diplomas.

The program partners with an accredited charter school, YouthBuild, and is aimed at students aged 15-24. Students who struggle with the traditional high school setting or who have dropped out of high school all receive individual attention as they strive to achieve their personal goal.

“Our first hit is when they cross the stage and graduate,” said Berridge, who remains the organization’s chief executive. “They were so disappointed with family, friends and teachers. “

The program has served over 1,000 students over the past 10 years, 640 have graduated. After receiving their degrees, they finally return to talk about their continued successes. The students went to four-year colleges, enlisted to serve in the military, and even started their own businesses.

RSBA2 staff at Rising Star Business Academy (courtesy Rising Star Business Academy)

The success of the program lies in its individual approach and in meeting students where they are, according to Berridge. Where most high schools have thousands of students, there are around 100 participants in the RSBA and the staff are working to help where it is needed most.

“We meet them where they are and then we take them to the next level,” Berridge said. “It doesn’t matter if they’re senior and don’t know chemistry. We come back to where they left off and we take the time to get them there.

The organization does more than help students graduate from high school. It also requires that participants serve the community by volunteering at least 60 hours while they participate in the program. Recently, students have worked with the association Power speaks louder help distribute 400 boxes of food each week. Students in the next term will participate in discussions on the correlation between COVID-19 and depression, then share their findings on its effects on young people and their recommendations.

“Our students are getting more involved in their communities and focusing more on being law-abiding citizens and making better choices,” said Berridge. “They have a respect for life and become active members of the community.”

During the pandemic, the school switched to virtual classes. The students continue to excel but are eager to return to school. The organization offers adjustment classes and counselors work with the children to help them overcome any distress and find ways to cope.

RSBA depends on grants and donations to deliver its programs to young adults. Recently, the organization received a grant from the Riverside County Nonprofit Aid Fund through the Inland Empire Community Foundation. Berridge encourages the community to learn more about the organization’s work and hopes to expand to serve more students in the Inland Empire in the future. RSBA continues to grow as students and alumni sponsor friends from the Moreno Valley and surrounding towns, encouraging them to attend.

“A lot of the students who come to us aren’t bad, they just got overlooked or needed a smaller frame,” Berridge said. “With us, they find out that they want to say something. They have a purpose and they just have to find their purpose.

Information: or (951) 455-4622

Inland Empire Community Foundation works to strengthen the interior of Southern California through philanthropy.


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