Community partners recently announced the launch of Stanislaus Futures, a long-term and large-scale commitment to provide low-income Stanislaus County students the opportunity to achieve their college and career goals.
Growing the number of students who earn college degrees and obtain well-paying jobs makes a bright future for Stanislaus County. A Milken Institute study shows that if each employed person in Stanislaus County got an additional year of college, the county’s GDP could jump $2.8 million.
But only one out of six Stanislaus County residents age 25 and older has a bachelor’s degree or higher level of education, compared to one out of three California residents. And out of every 100 ninth graders in Stanislaus County, 84 will graduate from high school, but only 19 will complete college within six years.
“Stanislaus Futures is about the community aligning with our education institutions to create a college-going culture in the region,” said Marian Kaanon, CEO of Stanislaus Community Foundation. “We want to ensure that families and students know there are multiple post-high school options for them, including college.”
Stanislaus Futures helps students navigate the complicated road to higher education, persist through college and earn a bachelor’s degree with three focus areas. Stanislaus Futures, through education and community partners, commits to:
ACCESS: Educate students and their parents about college options and access to financial aid; provide culturally-sensitive college and financial aid preparation and guidance for low-income, underrepresented students and their parents; support college counselors trained to help the transition to college and increase FAFSA completion rates.
ATTAIN: Build and administer strategic, needs-based scholarship funds to students with the most financial need; provide scholarships to low-income students who have the potential and drive to succeed in college, but lack the means; create funding opportunities for Stanislaus County donors and corporations to invest in Stanislaus Futures.
ALIGN: Work with high school districts and institutions of higher education to embrace best practices; partner with Stanford’s John Gardner Center for Youth & Communities to gather data and identify gaps and opportunities along a student’s path through Stanislaus County’s K-12 system and into college.
Stanislaus Community Foundation is working closely with College Futures Foundation, a respected statewide foundation that has studied the experience of more than 20,000 low-income California scholarship recipients over the past decade. Stanislaus Futures partners include Stanislaus County Office of Education, The Modesto Bee, Modesto Junior College and other local education partners to build scholarship funds, align systems and deepen family engagement around financial aid and college resources.
“The Stanislaus County Office of Education is committed to working with our partners on Stanislaus Futures,” said Stanislaus County Office of Education Superintendent Tom Changnon. “We recognize the challenges many students and families have in navigating the higher education process. We want to help support this initiative and provide families the opportunity to have their children obtain their educational goals.”
“Modesto Junior College is pleased to join Stanislaus Futures as our next step in creating a smooth transition for students from high school to college,” said Jill Stearns, Modesto Junior College President. “The partnership provides a collaborative opportunity to strengthen the pathway for local students into college success and the career of their dreams.”
UC Merced engineering student Danny Mauricio is able to pursue his college and career goals thanks to scholarships and college guidance. Neither of Mauricio’s parents went to college, so the support he received gave him the knowledge, confidence and means to attend a four-year university.
“Receiving the scholarships made me realize, ‘Here’s the seed, just water it. Let it grow,’” Mauricio said. “I don’t know if life would’ve turned out the same if it weren’t for that small seed that grew and blossomed.”
Through Stanislaus Futures, low-income students attending seven pilot high schools throughout Stanislaus County will receive additional college advising and be eligible for scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $3,000. Each scholarship is “last dollar in,” which closes the gap between what financial aid has been awarded and what is still needed. Longitudinal data on scholarship recipients will be gathered to determine their success in college.
To learn more about or support Stanislaus Futures, visit www.StanislausFutures.org or contact Stanislaus Community Foundation at (209) 576-1608.