Striving for a Better Future


201808131157901187.jpgKid City plays a big role in helping students pursue a higher education, whether through SAT tutoring, personal statement revisions, or simply by helping an individual fill out a college application. But what then? What happens after a student is accepted and settles in?

Jason Granados has been an active member at Kid City for over 7 years and recently graduated from UC Santa Barbara. (Left: 11th grader, Jason, carrying his pre-calculus books) 

During high school, Jason describes himself as the kid with the 200 pound, overstuffed backpack. He loved learning, focused heavily on academics, and even called himself the ‘teachers pet’. Although education was important to him, Jason’s end goal after high school was to immediately start working. As the oldest child in the family, Jason was under pressure to graduate and start bringing in income immediately. Although supportive and hard working, Jason’s parents had limited knowledge of the education system, and would frequently ask “cuando vas a empezar a trabajar?”. 

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A Look Back

DSC_1149.JPGI first visited the Urban Foundation’s Kid City program in Fall 2016. I heard about the program from a close friend and a presentation in class, but I was hesitant to go because I wasn’t sure if I needed the college prep they offered. At the time, I doubted that college was the right choice for me but my friends convinced me otherwise. Going to Kid City during the college application period was one of the best decisions I ever made, because the wonderful staff helped ease my worries and pushed me to explore my interests. Thanks to their help, I am the first in my family to go to college.

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Youth speak out!

20604394_1450937438324013_6361882894795783821_n.jpgAs a member of the College for All Coalition, the Urban Foundation has joined a grassroots movement to promote equity in higher education. This incredible partnership, spearheaded by Urban Foundation board chair Stewart Kwoh and our good friends at Asian Americans Advancing Justice, has provided Kid City students with training in policy and advocacy, and the opportunity to tell stories that speak to the importance for equity in higher education. Here are some highlights!

 On May 4, Erick Gonzalez testified at the oversight hearing for SB 1050 (College Readiness Block Grant), and was greeted and thanked by Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukEDfUWdaHA&feature=youtu.be

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Using My Voice For College Equity

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In June, I had to opportunity to be part of the College for All Coalition! I boarded a bus with about 50 other people and set off to my destination seven hours away. Students, parents and community members of all ethnicities from Pomona and Los Angeles went to Sacramento and talked to state assembly members and senators about AB 699, Safe Schools For Immigrant Students, and continuing support of SB 1050, College Readiness Block Grant. AB 699 would guarantee undocumented students protection from ICE in schools. The elongation of SB 1050 would continue to give funding to schools with majority low income, English language learners, and foster youth to support college admissions and completion. Unfortunately, the current money allocated from SB 1050 is due to run out in two years and AB 699 is yet to pass; however, this coalition gave us the opportunity to express our opinions to legislators. By sharing our concerns, we became active advocates for our communities.

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Community College Pride

Connee_Jazmin.jpegJazmin Valenzuela offered us this testimonial to the value of a community college education. Jazmin is currently a senior at UC Santa Barbara. At left, she was our guest speaker at a fundraiser in 2015, pictured here with Connee Freeman, former Urban Foundation board member.

"After high school, I begrudgingly began attending community college. My plans of going to a four year school didn’t pan out and I felt defeated. I was angry because I felt like I had to settle for less, and upset because I thought to myself, “this place is for kids who don’t know where to go or what they want.”

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From Member to Intern

I have been a part of Kid City since 2012 and received help with applying to college. I soon became close to Laura, Alma and Anne and knew I could count on them for support.

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At the time, I was really stressed with the idea of applying to college and scholarships. However, every time I entered Kid City, I would feel relieved and knew everything would turn out great. I was paired with a mentor and we worked together on my personal statements. Kid City provided me with academic support and also with emotional support. Laura had us read and discuss an article about "impostor syndrome" and I related so much to it. She made me rethink my feeling of being an imposter and taught me to be more confident and take ownership of my hard work. 

Since I joined Kid City, I have always tried to give back in any way. I volunteered during Splash of LA and was part of college panels. This summer I wanted to play a bigger role and decided to become a Kid City intern.

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Monologue/Dialogue

Two years ago, just before entering her first year at UCLA, Jocelyn Martinez wrote this essay in response to reading Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” while in my pre-college writing workshop at Kid City. A year later, Jocelyn, together with Maria Alonso taught the pre-college writing workshop. This week, to commemorate the MLK Jr. holiday, I asked one of Jocelyn's students to reflect on the meaning of her essay, two years later. In this way, students continue to be in dialog with Dr. King and with each other.

Monologue/Dialogue, by Jocelyn Martinez

Martin Luther King Jr. famously wrote, in his now renowned letter from Birmingham jail, that the American South of his time tragically lived in “monologue rather than dialogue.” Using such a loaded phrase, King captured an unjust American truth: the story of America is that of the white man; his African-American brothers, and other minorities, are largely ignored. Disgusted by the injustice of segregation and the degrading inferiority thrust upon thousands of African-Americans, Martin Luther King dedicated his time and efforts to making the story of America a story of all. To obtain such results, King first had to induce a shift from monologue to dialogue.

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Saul Nolasco: SMC to UCSB

Blog_Saul_Pic.jpgSaúl Nolasco, a former Santa Monica College student now at UC Santa Barbara, is finishing his first quarter and jokes that classes are too easy.

At first being away from his mother and little sister made him homesick. But he joined Hermanos Unidos and La Escuelita, clubs that help him stay active and give back to the community. At La Escuelita Saúl tutors local kids in math and helps them with homework. Saúl says that the clubs helped him adjust to campus life. "My homesickness subsided as soon as I joined Hermanos Unidos and La Escuelita. These two clubs on campus have helped with adjustment and reinforcement of being active. As a member of Hermanos Unidos I help promote academic excellence, community service, and social and personal development. As hermanos (brothers) we support each other as we prepare to graduate, thrive, and become respected leaders on campus and beyond." With Hermanos Unidos, Saúl volunteers at community events and is planning a Thanksgiving dinner for needy families.

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Nancy Avelino: Kid City Kid

The first day I went to Kid City is the day things started to get better and better.

IMG_8500.jpgI can still remember the summer I became a Kid City kid. It was before my senior year of high school and Kid City was offering job training, SAT math and verbal prep, personal statement writing, and many other workshops. I met Anne and Laura and bright faced high school students, all of whom made me feel comfortable and valued. Even though I was a bit shy and unsure of my abilities as a student and a leader, being at Kid City helped me take notice of my abilities. They encouraged me to participate in the job training course to enhance my ability as as speaker. Kid City has guided me to resources and information, such as toastmasters, to help me overcome my speech apprehension. Without Kid City, I might have remained a nervous girl with a dream to be a leader, but without knowledge of where to begin. 

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Deni Rodriguez, Reporter and Renaissance Woman

Deni_corsair_article.jpgDeni Rodriguez: artist, writer, thinker, as well as Kid City and Urban Foundation volunteer, is also a first-year Santa Monica College student. Deni wrote this lyrical piece for the Santa Monica College Corsair. No wonder they want her to write more articles!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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