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Dream of college made a reality for low-income kids

10,000 Degrees’ Summer Institute Guides Students in Marin, Sonoma and Solano Counties

(SAN RAFAEL, CA) – Today, 10,000 Degrees’ Summer Institute launched a group of 79 high school seniors on the road to college. More than 150 people – students, parents, mentors and supporters – turned out for the Summer Institute graduation ceremony at Pickleweed Community Center. If they are like previous 10,000 Degrees’ participants, 84% will complete a college degree within six years, compared to a national average of 54%. More than 500 students have gone through the program since 2000.

“This program is opening up a world of opportunity for students who otherwise wouldn’t believe it was possible,” said 10,000 Degrees’ president, Kim Mazzuca. “All of our students who attend the Summer Institute are first in their family to go to college or follow in a sibling’s footsteps. All have significant financial need and all are bright and committed young people,” said Mazzuca.

10,000 Degrees partnered with Dominican University and Sonoma State University for the Summer Institute. The program includes an intensive five-day dormitory experience with workshops on choosing a college, study habits, researching and applying for financial aid and scholarships. Students work throughout the year with staff and volunteers mentors.

“It was like having a whole new family,” said Maura Espinoza, a graduate from San Marin High School who will attend Santa Rosa Junior College. “I felt like everyone had a similar experience to me and it made me feel so welcome. It’s really cool.”

Hannah Bright, a graduate from Tamiscal High will attend UC Davis in the fall. She said, “I can’t tell you how grateful I am. My mentor was a total lifesaver. She was there every step of the way.”

Omar Flores, a graduate at Healdsburg High who will attend San Diego State University to study criminal justice, feared he and his family wouldn’t be able to afford it. “I had no idea what to do about college. 10,000 Degrees helped me the whole way – applying for college, finding scholarships. If it wasn’t for them (10,000 Degrees), I would be totally clueless.”

The Fullerton Family Foundation, the Kimball Foundation, Belvedere/Tiburon Rotary Club, Dodge & Cox Investment Managers, the Vallejo High School Hope Scholarship Fund and donors Thomas and Joanne Peterson and Marilyn Burns help support the Summer Institute year after year. They are joined by Marin Community Foundation and the Sonoma Valley Teacher Support Network to help students further their dreams of higher education.

Ivonne Menses, another Healdsburg High graduate who will attend Santa Rosa Junior College with hopes of entering the nursing program, summed it up, “It’s impossible to get lost when there are so many people helping you.”

Download a PDF of this press release.

About 10,000 Degrees has a 30-year track record of providing college access programs, scholarships and support to students in need of all ages. The low-income and traditionally underrepresented students who receive support are frequently the first generation of their family to go to college. After a name change and rebranding 10,000 Degrees, formerly Marin Education Fund, has expanded its college planning and preparation programs to Sonoma County and Solano County to serve more low-income students.