Skip to content

Eliezer Guerrero and his mentor, Israel Figueroa, celebrate Guerrero's scholarship

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

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)

Click the audio player to learn more about the East Bay College Fund.


  1. Roy Benford on March 14, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    As a previous volunteer with East Bay College Fund I remain interested in your organization and the help you provide to low-income students who live in Oakland. Please keep me on your email list and keep in touch.



  2. Susie Poncelet on March 19, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    Thank you for your thoughtful article about East Bay College Fund. As a mentor and donor myself, I can attest that they do outstanding work. If you live in Oakland and went to college, consider becoming a mentor to an award recipient, as it is a truly valuable experience. The scholars will inspire you beyond belief!

  3. Susan Stutzman on March 21, 2013 at 10:45 am

    As a board member, I am convinced that our growing organization will create real change in Oakland by providing a way out of poverty for young people who would not otherwise be able to attend college. Our scholars who have graduated from college are already giving back to their communities and serving as role models for the next generation of EBCF scholars. We are an exciting and powerful force for change and I encourage anyone who is interested in joining our efforts to contact us!

  4. […] Local media features East Bay College Fund Mentoring program.  Click here to read full story and hear radio broadcast. […]

Oakland North welcomes comments from our readers, but we ask users to keep all discussion civil and on-topic. Comments post automatically without review from our staff, but we reserve the right to delete material that is libelous, a personal attack, or spam. We request that commenters consistently use the same login name. Comments from the same user posted under multiple aliases may be deleted. Oakland North assumes no liability for comments posted to the site and no endorsement is implied; commenters are solely responsible for their own content.

Photo by Basil D Soufi
Oakland North

Oakland North is an online news service produced by students at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and covering Oakland, California. Our goals are to improve local coverage, innovate with digital media, and listen to you–about the issues that concern you and the reporting you’d like to see in your community. Please send news tips to:

Latest Posts

Scroll To Top