By Martin Lamarque
A Gala Night you will not forgetUploaded: Mar 11, 2014
As someone who didn't go far past the 9th grade, making sure that my kids attend college has been one of my life's key goals.
One of the great advantages of this country is that if you are willing to make the effort, and run into someone who can show you the way, you can end up in some good university, or community college, and get a degree.
This is what happened to our family when we came upon the Foundation for a College Education, in East Palo Alto. An organization that has been sending kids to college for almost 20 years.
Knowing what you want and being willing to work for it is a very important first step in aiming for higher education. But getting bogged down as one tries to navigate the maze of a-g curriculum, AP classes, PSAT and SAT, high school graduation, college applications, FAFSA, paying for college, etc, can derail the best intentions. Especially for families like ours, with no one before us ever walking down that path, to at least point us in the general direction.
One day while in high school, my daughter came home with a flyer a boy had given her. It was something about a program that helped kids from East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park "go to college". We went over to inquire, and what we saw and heard was like something sent from heaven.
When they enroll kids at the beginning of high school, FCE staff analyzes their strengths and weaknesses to know what the possibilities are, and where the efforts will be needed. Parents sign a release authorization to give FCE access to their kid's grades, and make sure the program detects early any problems that may make it harder for that child to achieve the goals.
FCE has a group of very dedicated tutors to help kids with homework and projects after school. The students get classes to prepare them for the PSAT and SAT tests, and help with their essays and college applications. Supposedly, those who comply with the program's requirements get to go on tours of colleges in California. Supposedly, but I heard that even those who may have failed to fulfill some of the conditions, are given a break and get to go too. You see, FCE doesn't like to leave anyone behind.
In its 19th year, FCE has helped graduate 140 high school students, it currently has 59 students enrolled in institutions of higher learning; 69 of FCE graduates have obtained a bachelor's degree, and 11 have gone on to get an advanced degree. Sixty-four percent of FCE's students complete college in 4 years. Pretty amazing, isn't it?
If you would like to learn more about it, here is the website: FCE
This is year 4 for me on FCE's Board of Directors. After they helped 2 of my kids prepare for and enroll in college, the least I could do is help other families who want their kids to aim higher, but like us back then, have no idea where to start the process.
If you would like to support FCE's efforts to continue changing lives for the better, please join me at FCE's Gala on April 5th. I promise you will love this event.
Here is the invitation