East Bay College Fund helps Oakland students get to college—and stay there
on March 14, 2013
The East Bay College Fund awards up to forty sixteen-thousand dollar scholarships each year to low-income students from Oakland. Nearly all of these students are the first in their families to attend college, and nearly all have weathered the kind of personal challenges—such as violence, homelessness, or early parenthood—that could easily have blocked the way.
Across the country less than thirty percent of first-generation college students graduate, but over eighty percent of these students do. What works is complex, but according to executive director Diane Dodge, students often report that the reason they applied to college in the first place is because, “there’s someone who believes in me,” she said.
Every East Bay College Fund scholarship recipient gets paired with a mentor—someone who has a bachelor’s degree and knows the ropes, but who can also offer emotional support. Each mentor pledges to meet up at least once a month, no matter what, until their scholar graduates.
“I have something to live for and go to school for…and do good for,” said Darion Jefferson, a student at Peralta Colleges who will enter San Francisco State in the fall. His mentor, Erik Moore, isn’t so much of a mentor anymore—he’s “more like family,” Jefferson said. “Unless we both leave this earth, there’s no other way we could lose connection.”
The East Bay College Fund is currently seeking new mentors for the high school seniors who’ll receive this year’s scholarships. To learn more about the program or how to be a mentor, visit EastBayCollegeFund.org.
This story first aired on KALX 90.7 FM. Image: Eliezer Guerrero (left) and his mentor, Israel Figueroa, celebrate Guerrero’s scholarship from the East Bay College Fund. (Photo courtesy Diane Dodge)
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