Foundation for a College Education (FCE) was founded in 1995 to improve the social and economic conditions of East Palo Alto residents. The belief then and now is that education is a powerful tool which promotes individual, family, and community change.
FCE's mission is to increase the number of students of color from East Palo Alto and surrounding communities graduating from four-year colleges and universities. FCE accomplishes its mission by providing free, comprehensive college access and retention services to its students and their families.
FCE's programs serve low-income students who are typically the first in their families to enroll in a four-year college and who often lack the knowledge and resources to successfully negotiate the college application process.
Over the last 15 years, FCE has been highly successful in working with students and their families to help them on their journey through the secondary and post-secondary educational system. We deliver our services free of charge through four program strands: College Bound, Parent Leadership, College Success, and College Scholarship. FCE currently works with 110 students and their families.
College Bound Program
FCE's College Bound Program provides high school students with the necessary resources and support to be prepared academically and emotionally to apply to college. The program includes the following components:
Parent Leadership Program
FCE's College Bound Program not only helps students prepare for college, it also helps their parents acquire the skills and confidence to become effective educational advocates for their children and agents for positive change in East Palo Alto.
Research in systemic education reform underscores the importance of meaningful parent engagement as a key factor in increased student performance. FCE requires each student to have at least one parent, guardian, or caring adult who actively participates in the program. Parents play a significant role in program development and governance of the organization. Members of the Parent Leadership Team advise the staff on programming and assume responsibility for a variety of activities, including designing and hosting the Senior Celebration which honors FCE's graduating high school students. In addition, at least one parent serves on the FCE Board of Directors. The Parent Leadership Program consists of the following components:
College Success Program
At FCE, we determine the success of our program by the number of students who graduate from a four-year college or university. During the years our students participate in FCE's College Bound Program, they develop close ties to one another and to FCE staff and volunteers. One-on-one and group contact enables our college students to connect with us and with one another and to stay on track to graduate within five years. The College Success Program includes the following components:
FCE scholarships serve as persistence grants for our students and play a significant role in college retention. FCE provides competitive scholarships to high school seniors and college students funded by individual and foundation donors. In addition, FCE provides "discretionary" scholarships to help students with small, but significant, fees for books, academic programs, and other costs associated with their education.
The current Mayor of East Palo Alto, Laura Martinez, is a graduate of our program. Laura joined our program as a high school student. She graduated from Whittier College and returned to East Palo Alto where she worked in a number of community-based nonprofit organizations. In 2008, she decided to run for the East Palo Alto City Council. She was the first Latina ever elected to the Council and its youngest member.