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East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy
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College Scholarships: Invest In Opportunity for Our Students

The financial needs of our students are great, and the disparity between resources available to our students and those in surrounding areas is striking. This video, produced by EPAPA student Francisco Ramirez (see his other productions), captures the difficult choices our students are forced to make.
Learn more about:
» The challenges first-generation and low-income students face.
» How we'll use your investment.
» Our school's results.
» How to get involved as a College Mentor.

The Challenges of Financing a First-Generation College Education: A National Problem
The "funding gap" experienced by students from East Palo Alto is part of a national problem.

  • The average annual unmet financial needs (college costs not covered by loans, grants or scholarships) of low-income students in the United States is around $4,000 for public universities and $6,000 for private institutions.
  • Nationwide, only 20% of low-income, college-qualified students achieve a bachelor's degree (vs. 60% for high income students).

The discrepancy in resources hits students from our local community especially hard.

  • About 10% of the students from East Palo Alto that attend the district's large comprehensive high schools graduate college-ready (having met California's "a-g" Requirements for eligibility to apply to a UC or CSU).
  • 11% of East Palo Alto residents hold a bachelor's degree (compared with roughly 75% in neighboring Palo Alto).

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EPAPA College and Financial Literacy Programs

Every aspect of our school community is designed to equip our students and their families with the skills, knowledge and habits necessary to find success in college and beyond. Our College Programs, in particular, are designed to prepare our students to overcome the obstacles they will face on their path to earning a college degree. Financial literacy is a particularly important skill as our students (and their parents) try to navigate the challenging terrain of personal finance. Concrete financial support -- in the form of merit- and need-based scholarships -- is just one element of our college preparedness program.

  • Advisory: Starting in middle school, all EPAPA students participate in a regularly-scheduled class designed to address many of the skills and issues they will face on the road to college. As early as sixth grade, students begin looking at the financial options available to them to pay for their college educations. As they progress through high school, these discussions become more detailed and concrete.
  • Senior Seminar: Once they reach their senior year, students are enrolled in an additional class that is entirely focused on the college process, from essay-writing to college applications to the FAFSA. As early as July of their senior year, students begin working on developing a personal budget for their college years and begin researching the costs associated with attending each of the schools on their list.
  • College Mentors: Each student is assigned a one-on-one mentor (learn more about volunteering here!) who helps steward him/her through the college application and selection process during our bi-weekly meetings. Mentors help our students develop their personal budgets, submit their FAFSA, and polish applications for scholarships. Come April, mentors are there to help our students evaluate their financial awards and make their final decisions about which college to attend.
  • Senior/Parent Meetings: We expect our families to attend meetings twice a month to work through all aspects of the college process, with a special emphasis on financial planning. As part of our Family and College Resource Center Programming, we guide our parents through the creation of a family budget that will allow them to accurately anticipate how much money they will have available to pay for their student's college education.
  • Glow Foundation: All of our juniors and seniors participate in a financial literacy program created by the Glow Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides financial education, mentoring and scholarships to high-potential, college-ready students from under-resourced communities."
  • Beyond12/Alumni Programming: With so much attention (rightly) focused on providing college access, Beyond12 is a non-profit organization that focuses on persistence. Their model includes 1) a technological tool to help high schools and colleges track student success and stay in touch with students, and 2) individualized coaching for students. All of our alumni are enrolled in the Beyond12 program and agree to participate in additional EPAPA Alumni Programming as a pre-condition for any scholarship support from our school.

EPAPA Scholarship Fund
Once they have successfully completed all of the requirements above, students are eligible to apply for scholarship support from the EPAPA Scholarship Fund. The application process is as follows:

  1. Students sign the EPAPA Scholarship Contract, which enumerates the expectations students must meet in order to receive continued financial support. The expectations include submitting regular academic progress reports, annual personal budgets and updates, as well as partipation in EPAPA's alumni programming.
  2. Students submit a finalized Personal Student Budget. This will be used to determine a student's financial need.
  3. Students submit a copy of their tuition bill along with a Scholarship Disbursement Request.
  4. Upon approval by EPAPA staff, the scholarship funds are disbursed directly to the college or university.

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