A college-going culture is beginning to take root in Pico Rivera, California, a community that is close to our heart. Jacki’s grandfather was once the mayor of Pico Rivera and it is where she grew up.
In many ways it is an all-too typical Southern California city: High poverty, predominantly Hispanic population, low educational attainment and low wage earning potential as a result. Inspired by the Kalamazoo Promise in Kalamazoo in Michigan, we decided to bring together a number of key players in Pico Rivera and start a grassroots movement to have every home in Pico Rivera have a college degree.
The program is called Generation 1st Degree Pico Rivera. Now in it’s third year, the program has supported more than 1,500 students through 3 key programs: College Blueprint, Be A Leader and the Frank Terrazas Scholarship, which is managed by our partners, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund. Generation 1st Degree includes a variety of support mechanisms including college essay prep, college tours, support through the application process, financial literacy and scholarship support as well as ‘Town-Hall’ events where families come together to learn more about the college process.
Every time we hear back from our students who are finishing college, we are humbled. These are some of the best and brightest young people and they say: I could have never even dreamed of college if it wasn’t for Generation 1st Degree. Nobody in my family even knew where to begin to help me and here I am at Yale, or Brown, or George Washington University, getting my dual major degree! These young people are an incredible resource to Pico Rivera and to the nation as a whole, and that is what drives us forward in our mission to create access for them to go to and through college.
Perhaps more important is this idea that Generation 1st Degree works here in Pico Rivera, and it could work anywhere. This is a formula that can be replicated in communities throughout the country and, it is one of those rare initiatives that has an incredibly high return on investment. We invite you to stay tuned with our progress in Pico Rivera by signing up for the Generation 1st Degree Newsletter here.