Supes, Community Orgs Gather To Encourage Students To Get Loans For School

By Bay City News
SF Appeal Online
February 8, 2011

City officials, students, parents and community organization staff members gathered on the steps at San Francisco’s City Hall Tuesday morning to launch “Financial Aid Awareness Week,” which aims to educate people about grants and loans for students from low-income families and first-generation college students.

Supervisor David Campos said the Board of Supervisors will meet Tuesday to discuss officially designating Feb. 6-12 “Financial Aid Awareness Week.”

Speakers at the event included supervisors Campos, Jane Kim and John Avalos; city treasurer Jose Cisneros; and students who lauded community organizations Mission Graduates and Juma Ventures.

“A college education is the key to success for all of us,” Campos said.

Campos stressed that coming from a low-income family doesn’t mean that a person shouldn’t be able to attend college.

University of California at Berkeley freshman Rebeca Lopez said she is enjoying life in college thanks to Mission Graduates, a nonprofit that helps San Francisco’s K-12 students prepare for and complete a college education.

“I always wonder how students can pass up this opportunity,” Lopez said of financial aid. “It’s probably because they don’t know about it.”

Lopez grew up in San Francisco an attended International Studies Academy in Potrero Hill.

Lopez, an architecture major, now lives on campus.

Alex Moore, who’s in his second semester at City College of San Francisco, credits youth development program Juma Ventures with helping him secure student loans.

Moore has a part-time job and said he doesn’t have to work as many hours because of his loans.

“Financial aid has helped me out a lot,” Moore said.

Moore now has more time to focus on his studies.

Avalos, a University of California, Santa Barbara graduate, said he is the first member of his family to go to college.

Avalos said the financial aid process would have been easier if he had worked with a youth development program.

“I found it very daunting,” he said.

Avalos hopes to spread the word about groups like MEDA — or Mission Economic Development Agency, Mission Graduates and Juma Ventures.

“We need outreach that meets the cultural and linguistic diversity of San Francisco,” Avalos said.

Other speakers included representatives from the Citi Foundation, San Francisco Education Fund and MEDA.

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