learn / 2021

Rebuilding the Bridge to College

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Fulfillment Fund

The pandemic has widened the educational achievement gap, particularly among low-income students of color. After a year of significant disengagement, we need to help students rebuild connections—to their sense of purpose, their peers, their educational community. Fulfillment Fund will add social-emotional interventions to our college access program for 9th-12th graders in our partner schools. Now more than ever, students need help finding hope and getting back on a path to college, which is key to economic mobility and uplifting diverse voices.


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

  • Central LA
  • LAUSD (select only if you have a district-wide partnership or project)

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

Our students have been disproportionately affected by distance learning (64% of LAUSD middle and high school students did not “actively participate’’ online last spring) and the stress of the pandemic (US teens had a 31% increase in mental health-related ER visits). Moreover, college applications are declining dramatically (immediate college enrollment fell by 21.7% in 2020, nearly 8 times the pre-pandemic loss rate) especially among low-income and first-generation youth and at campuses that primarily serve disadvantaged students (e.g., CSU Dominguez Hills saw a 17% plunge in applications). This is the greatest educational crisis of our generation. Without significant intervention, previous gains to close the opportunity gap for underserved students will slide precipitously. After a year of record disengagement, as our school partners work to get students back on track academically, we know they will need more help than ever with college counseling and social-emotional supports.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

Fulfillment Fund will help 9th-12th grade students in our partner schools rebuild social-emotional connections to their peers, their educational community, and their sense of purpose through on-site and/or virtual workshops. Delivered with a college access and trauma-informed care lens, these workshops will engage and re-connect students through team-building exercises, identity development/empowerment activities, wellness checks, guest speakers, and community service/civic engagement opportunities. Offered in tandem with our existing programming, workshops will focus on fostering social-emotional development, improving mental health and well-being in a fun and interactive learning environment. Our high school programs will continue to include personalized college counseling, college access lessons, college tours, financial aid workshops, programming for parents in English and Spanish, a summer bridge program, scholarships, and financial aid counseling (all offered in-person, hybrid, or virtual as allowed by LAUSD). By creating safe spaces where students are encouraged to rebuild relationships, we will instill hope that their futures are still bright and their college dreams are attainable and more important than ever. (Note: Apart from this grant, Fulfillment Fund continues to serve our students at both 2- and 4-year colleges and universities through our College Success program, where we are also ramping up social-emotional support services and career readiness activities.)

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative (expanding and continuing ongoing, successful work)

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

1,900
Direct impact
5,700
Indirect impact

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

We believe that education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty and forging a path to meaningful economic mobility while uplifting the diverse voices we are privileged to serve. In the short term, our students will overcome their pandemic-related learning loss, will be hopeful about their futures and prepared for the expectations of college, will graduate high school with the courses needed for college admission, will have the funding required to matriculate in the Fall, and will be accepted to the school that makes the most sense for them. In the long-term, our students will graduate college and embark on meaningful career paths, the opportunity gap will decrease, our target communities will be healthier and live longer, and median household incomes will rise, for this generation of students as well as for future generations. Like so many others we have served, these students will give back to their communities, thus creating a growing cycle of support in Los Angeles and beyond.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Fulfillment Fund has a long track record of providing deep and meaningful College Access and Success programs in L.A. Last year we served 2,794 students: 99% BIPOC, 90% low-income, and 83% first in their family to earn a college degree. In 2020 our high school seniors achieved a 92% graduation rate (vs. 80% for LAUSD overall). In 2019 (the most recent year for which data is available) only 70% of LAUSD seniors enrolled in college after graduation, while among Fulfillment Fund’s graduated seniors that year, college enrollment was nearly 100% (in 2020 it was 94%). In addition, only about 25% of LAUSD high school graduates overall finish a college degree within six years, while in 2020 our most recent cohort achieved an 84% six-year graduation rate. The success of our new social-emotional components will be measured by specific pre-and post-intervention surveys, along with measurement of high school graduation and college matriculation rates despite the challenges caused by the pandemic.

Describe the role of collaborating organizations on this project.

Since we began partnering with LAUSD high schools to offer our college access services we have served thousands of students across dozens of schools. Today, we have contractual full-service partnerships with five Title I LAUSD public schools, plus two additional partner schools receiving opt-in services, a formal vendor partnership with all LAUSD, and active efforts to increase our number of partner schools. We specifically target Title I schools due to the high incidence of students that require additional resources beyond that which can be provided by school staff. For this project, our full-service partner schools will provide access to students and will collaborate on service delivery based on needs assessments unique to each partner school.

Which of the learn metrics will you impact?​

  • College graduates
  • College matriculation
  • High school graduation rates

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

  • LA is the best place to CONNECT
  • LA is the healthiest place to LIVE