Earlier this year, LNESC, McDonald’s USA, and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) partnered to launch a national initiative to provide greater access to higher education for Latino students in seven cities across the U.S. (Los Angeles, Chicago, El Paso, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Miami). The program called Steps for Success, consisted of a full day of bilingual hands-on specialized instruction and college preparation workshops for high school students and their parents and resulted in packed auditoriums and gyms.
LNESC was excited to partner with McDonald’s to take this program to the next level by providing additional support in the seven cities through the College Access & Success 101 program, which consisted of open lab hours and workshops on critical college access topics like FAFSA completion, college application procedures, and financial aid assistance. The central idea was to continue to support the communities where Steps for Success workshops were held – this program innovation resulted in additional services for high-need parents and students across the country.
I was fortunate to attend one of the Steps for Success workshops in Philadelphia and was blown away by the impact the presenters had on students and parents. Working at the national level, I often experience the education gap that exists in the Latino community as mere numbers on a screen (for instance, only 11.4 percent of Hispanics are enrolled in college). However, as I sat in on several sessions I heard students ask what I thought were basic questions like, “What’s a personal statement?” or “What is the FAFSA for?.” It was clear that these workshops were essential to getting these young people into college and to increasing Latino college enrollment beyond that 11.4 percent.
The College Access & Success 101 workshops have already proven to be a hit in the community. “They gave a lot of information for Hispanic parents, which we usually do not get,” said a parent who attended the October 29 workshop in Houston. Another parent said the workshop eased her doubts, and plans to attend more College Access workshops in the future. “I wanted clear recommendations, and we will receive more help with finding schools and scholarships in the next classes.”
Students also had great things to say about the workshops as well. “What I liked about the program was that it gave me plenty of information about what I need to do to get accepted to a college,” said a student in Philadelphia. “The program was very good and interesting.”
Jessica Rivera, LNESC director in Philadelphia, explained that workshops were useful because they incorporated practical information and involved both parents and students. “During the college application workshop parents learned about the application process. We used the Temple University application in order for parents and students to see what it looked like and how they were to fill it out. Every parent and student received a copy of the application,” said Ms. Rivera. “It is great to see how parents are committed to learning how they can help and support their children by attending these workshops.”
Not Just for Burgers…
College Access & Success 101 would not have been possible without the dedication and support of McDonald’s, who has been a true believer in LNESC’s mission to provide innovative educational opportunities for the Hispanic community. From corporate headquarters to local owner/operators, McDonald’s has been an invaluable partner for getting college access information to the high-need communities that LNESC serves.
For the students and parents that attended a College Access & Success 101 workshop, McDonald’s is about more than burgers, it’s about educational opportunity.
Interested in attending a College Access & Success 101 Workshop or just want to know more about LNESC programs near you? Visit our website at www.lnesc.org.