Next Generation Scholars is the result of a chance meeting between co-founders Sally Matsuishi and Kenji Treanor at a community event in San Rafael in 2002. They quickly discovered shared interests in educational equity and youth leadership development. The two began working from Sally’s kitchen table in 2003 as volunteers reaching out to high schools seniors that needed assistance with college counseling.

By 2005, Next Generation Scholars was serving both high school juniors and seniors in a borrowed conference room space at a social service agency in San Rafael. In 2006 and 2007, while continuing to serve their students who had transitioned to college, the high school program grew to include sophomores. To better serve its growing community, Next Generation Scholars secured its first space – a single cubicle within a nonprofit resource center in Terra Linda.

The organization continued to thrive in 2008 and Sally was hired as Next Generation Scholars' first paid employee in the Executive Director role. That year, NGS brought on high school freshman into the program, as well as piloted a middle school program. To accomodate growth, Next Generation Scholars moved again to a small office in central San Rafael. By 2010, NGS had expanded its successful middle school program and added another paid employee as a Program Coordinator to help manage the increased scale of activities and services. The end of 2010 was marked by the successful opening of Next Generation Scholars' 2,500 square foot College Access Center in downtown San Rafael.

Today, the Next Generation Scholars College Access Center offers its students and the greater county a wide variety of programming and resources all reflective of its commitment to social justice and educational equity.