learn / 2016

Future Focus: College and Career Pathways for LA County Students

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by College Bridge

The Future Focus program provides all students and families - regardless of income – personalized support to transition from high school to college and career.


Are any other organizations collaborating on this proposal?

College Bridge and YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles

Please describe your project proposal.

Personalized college and career planning should not be something only accessible to the wealthiest Angelenos. In California’s public schools, college counselors on average can only spend 38 minutes once a year per student advising them on this critical process. The Future Focus program ameliorates this situation by providing group workshops and individual mentoring to students and their families to ensure that everyone is given equitable support to pursue their dreams beyond high school.

Which of the learn metrics will your proposal impact?​

  • College matriculation rates
  • Student education pipeline
  • Youth unemployment and underemployment

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South LA
  • Westside
  • South Bay
  • Gateway Cities
  • Antelope Valley
  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles
  • LAUSD

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to learn?

Future Focus will make LA the best place to LEARN by improving the student educational pipeline, increasing college matriculation rates, and decreasing the rates of youth unemployment and underemployment.

Educational Pipeline/College Matriculation Rates

Currently, there are no county-wide programs to help students and their families navigate the transition from high school into college and career. Wealthy families can afford expensive private schools or personal coaches who will assist their children in the transition. For the rest of us, we are on our own to figure it out. The result is often stressed families, students entering college without a major or career plan, or students attempting to go to college but unable to due to mistakes made on college or financial aid applications.

Future Focus, accessible to all, is a comprehensive college and career preparation program for students and their families that includes 11 group workshops and ongoing individual or small-group mentoring. The workshops include topics from the following categories: Planning for College and Career, Choosing a College and Career, Applying to College and Careers, and College Tests. The program is offered, in part or in whole, to students in grades 7-12. Students build a portfolio with their transcripts, test scores, extracurricular activities as well as researched college plans that is maintained at the YMCA and updated annually.

While most of the students’ research, planning, and applications are completed at the YMCA, families and school counselors are also engaged in the process. At a minimum, a students’ school counselor and family reviews college and career plans and provides feedback. In terms of financial aid for college, families attend the workshops and complete the applications with their child. The cost of college is a major concern for most students and families. Through Future Focus, students and families will make the final decision about whether or not they can afford college based on their financial aid award letters and not on a notion that it might be too expensive. Further, responses from the colleges are tracked and students are taught to follow-through to ensure all mistakes are corrected.

Youth Unemployment and Underemployment

The question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is not easily answered by most teenagers; it is not even easy to answer as an adult. Through Future Focus students will begin the exploration through web-based tools to discover personality traits and natural talents as well as possible careers that may be a good match. From there, they will research regional job growth categories, wages, and educational requirements. Students will explore internships and summer jobs in their chosen fields to determine fit, build their resume, and plan for future employment. All of their research and experiences are organized in their portfolio assisting them in their transition into college or career.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

The success of Future Focus will be defined using the following metrics:

  1. At least 85% of Future Focus students will correctly submit their college and financial aid applications (compared to 60% now).
  2. At least 85% of Future Focus students will matriculate into a postsecondary degree or credential program (compared to 67% now).
  3. At least 33% of Future Focus students who wish to begin their careers without a postsecondary degree or credential will secure full-time employment after high school (compared to 17% now).

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money
  • Volunteers
  • Advisors/board members
  • Staff
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles etc.)
  • Education/training
  • Technical infrastructure (computers etc.)
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support
  • Quality improvement research