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Bay Area Organization, 10,000 Degrees, Steps Up to Support Low-Income Students During Pandemic

HOW PANDEMIC IS THWARTING COLLEGE ACCESS FOR STUDENTS FROM LOW-INCOME: Pre-pandemic, the college success journey for students from low-income backgrounds and communities of color was already rife with obstacles. Today’s crisis exacerbates the systemic inequities and marginalization to profound levels. Our staff at 10,000 Degrees are finding that many students and their families are doing everything they can to survive poverty, and now, COVID-19. For example, 10,000 Degrees students and/or their families tell us that they are now struggling with lack of technology/Internet access, job losses, mental health issues, elevated stress and anxiety, family illnesses, DACA/immigration issues, and more. And without their usual routines and on-campus support systems, students say they’re feeling isolated, alone, and like their college degree is even more out of reach.

HELPING LOCAL STUDENTS: COVID-19 became a true test of the strength of 10,000 Degrees Fellowship program, and has emphasized just how much the deep relationships that these near-peer mentors have cultivated with students matter. 10,000 Degrees is a leading college success nonprofit operating in seven Bay Area counties to support students from low-income backgrounds to and through college. During the pandemic, the Fellows, who are all recent college graduates and often 10,000 Degrees alum themselves, have become the go-to trusted source for thousands of Bay Area students from low-income backgrounds. Fellows are serving as their critical link to education and now with the pandemic, also to other vital resources for mental health, housing, food, and more.

EXAMPLES OF PROVIDING LIFELINE TO STUDENTS: 10,000 Degrees teams and Fellows have needed to redouble their support in this crisis to provide guidance and resources to keep students from low-income backgrounds connected to and engaged with their education:

  • Fellows mobilized within 48 hours of school closures to convert all in-person support to virtual platforms.
  • Fellows are hosting ongoing online learning sessions and making step-by-step tutorials for students, plus providing wellness programming to help them cope. Topics include scholarship/financial aid assistance, matriculation steps, how to use online learning platforms, etc.
  • Fellows are collaborating with school partners and community organizations as well as using social media, online office hours, and one-on-one support calls/texts to increase student support and connect them to critical resources for education, food, housing, Internet, mental health support, disaster relief funds, unemployment insurance, etc.,
  • Fellows created a series of interactive videos and exercises to enable us to move our high school and college summer bridge programs – which helps seniors get college-ready – from an on-campus retreat to an online experience.
  • 10,000 Degrees teams also extended scholarship application deadlines and expedited $2 million in scholarship funds to provide immediate emergency financial relief.
  • 10,000 Degrees teams are also assisting high school seniors and more than 2,200 college students with contingency planning for the coming fall semester.

APRIL 25TH FUNDRAISING EVENT FOR STUDENTS: “ONE Amazing Community” Zoom Webinar this Saturday, April 25, 5:30 p.m.-6 p.m., Info: oneamazingnight.org To watch – just join Facebook live: facebook.com/10000degrees

PHOTOS BY REQUEST

PANDEMIC RELATED VIDEOS & SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS

INTERVIEW SOURCES:

  • 10,000 Degrees CEO, Kim Mazzuca: 415-272-3374; kmazzuca@10000degrees.org
  • Sara Stinson: KRON4 Reporter, 10,000 Degrees Alumna & Keynote at our ONE Amazing Community event this Saturday 4/25.
    • Contact info: 415-847-0992
    • Sara’s dream of becoming a TV reporter came true because 10,000 Degrees enabled her to go to college. Now with COVID-19, she says students & their families from low-income backgrounds are scared, losing jobs, and struggling to see how they can make college happen. Sara will be the keynote speaker at our ONE Amazing Community celebration in honor of our students this Saturday, April 25.
  • 10,000 Degrees Student Ambassadors: Sanjeev Ralh & Gabby Hojilla
    • As ambassadors pre-pandemic, Sanjeev & Gabby’s roles were to provide peer-support for over 200 college students on academic programs, mental health-related resources, and by organizing community-building student events. Now they are working to build and maintain community among the 10,000 Degrees student cohort at College of Marin by planning online gatherings – like a Kahoot Trivia Night this Friday, April 24th.
      • Sanjeev Ralh: Contact info: 415-572-8955, sanjeev7302000@gmail.com
        • Sanjeev is finding it challenging to concentrate on his studies at home because not only is he an ambassador for college students – but he’s now mentoring his own siblings at home!
      • Gabby Hojilla: Contact info: 415-420-1790, gabbyhojilla14@gmail.com
        • Gabby is fulfilling her ambassador role while also trying to navigate her own education and her family struggles – her dad just lost his job because of COVID-19, and her mom is an essential worker at a senior home who works 11 p.m. to 9 a.m. nightly. Gabby is a first-generation immigrant from the Philippines and college student pursuing a career in higher education.

QUOTES:

Kim Mazzuca, 10,000 Degrees CEO: “The inequities that have historically plagued our students from lower-income communities are only going to deepen. This is why, what we do at 10,000 Degrees is absolutely, unequivocally essential. We are not backing off during this time of crisis. Our priority is our students and we are going to do everything to elevate our support and to accelerate our equity work. COVID-19, undoubtedly has rocked our world. While we don’t yet know all that will change because of it, we do know this: Education is imperative-it is the foundation of a just and equitable society. And now, more than ever, postsecondary education, and the community college pathway is essential to our economic recovery, and to the healing and reshaping of our communities and the nation. And our Fellowship program works. The valued, trusted, and enduring relationships our Fellows establish with students has made it possible for us to be the critical link to their education and other resources during these challenging times.”

Amy Tan, Author and 10,000 Degrees supporter: “This time of crisis is shaping young people in how they respond to challenge, self-determination, community, and lifelong commitment. Those who foster that are heroes.”

Anna L. Pilloton, College of Marin Director of School & Community Partnerships: “None of us can do this alone. College of Marin is stronger and is fortified in our support for our students because of 10,000 Degrees. If a student has a question about academic resources, financial aid, or just needs a friendly face–certainly we’re there for them, but so is 10,000 Degrees. The 10,000 Degrees model of support is so comprehensive. It’s not just about giving students a scholarship check. It’s how they mentor and teach students the ingredients for college success. I’ve seen first-hand how hundreds and hundreds of students have benefited.”

Maria Rodriguez, 10,000 Degrees Fellow, Southern Marin: “Yesterday, I had a financial aid meeting with a student and her parents where we discussed her options. In the end, it was clear where she was going to go. The financial relief that they felt was apparent on their faces as they smiled from ear to ear. They were thrilled to be able to see the end result of years of sacrifice for them as a family. This was a moment where they were reminded of all the wonderful things that the student has yet to accomplish. She is the first in her family to go to college and will be starting at UC Merced this fall for less than $1,000 per year! Moments like this remind me of the long-term value that our financial aid meetings hold for the clarity that families receive during this time.”

Stefany Reyes, 10,000 Degrees Fellow, Petaluma & West Marin: “This week I caught up with a few of our students through phone calls. It’s been really heartwarming to hear a some of them open up about how they’re handling the current situation and to hear that they’re grateful for the continued support we’re providing from home. Although I miss seeing everyone on campus, it’s always nice to hear back from them through email, text or call.”

COLLEGE DEGREE STATS:

  • A college degree is the most effective way to break the cycle of poverty for generations to come.
  • In the United States, only 13% of students from low-income backgrounds earn a bachelor’s degree by their mid-twenties.
  • 80% of 10,000 Degrees 4-year college students graduate compared to 31% of their peers nationally
  • 10,000 Degrees community college students transfer at three times the national average.

About 10,000 Degrees®

10,000 Degrees® is a leading college success nonprofit in California that supports students from low-income backgrounds to and through college. 10,000 Degrees serves more than 10,000 students and their families each year with comprehensive wraparound support, college and financial aid counseling, near-peer alumni coaching, scholarships, and financial aid management. Unlike most other college success organizations, there is no GPA requirement to participate in 10,000 Degrees programs. Powered by Fellows, near-peer coaches who are recent college graduates and often alum of 10,000 Degrees, they are embedded in high school and college campuses to help students navigate life both on and off-campus and throughout their college success journey. With this innovative support model, 10,000 Degrees achieves unmatched success rates: Over 80% of 10,000 Degrees four-year college students earn bachelor’s degrees, compared to 31% of their peers nationally. 10,000 Degrees community college students transfer to and graduate from four-year colleges at a rate that’s three times the national average. 10,000 Degrees students also graduate with 85% less student loan debt than the national average. 10,000 Degrees operates in seven Bay Area counties – San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Contra Costa, San Mateo, and Santa Clara – and works in 27 high schools, 34 community colleges, and over 50 four-year colleges and universities across the nation.