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Foundation for a College Education

  • Foundation for a College Education
  • 2160 Euclid Avenue
  • East Palo Alto, CA 94303
  • 650-322-5048
  • 1995

Program Description


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.

Student Population

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.

Core Programs

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:

  • Academic Excellence: Sessions meet three times a week and include academic advising, one-on-one and group tutoring, course selection advising, and study skills enhancement. The writing center helps students develop academic and creative writing skills. Participants in a weekly book group develop critical thinking skills and a love of literature.
  • College Planning and counseling: Includes college admissions planning ad support, college application instruction and support, PSAT/SAT preparation, college research and exploration, and college tours.
  • Mentoring/College Coaching: Uses a small group model with volunteer college coaches to assist FCE staff in providing guidance for FCE students on a variety of college-related topics.
  • Leadership Development: Provides team-and community-building activities designed to give participants the skills to become advocates for their own interests and development as well as for those of the larger community. Introduces students to policy issues affecting higher education and their role in the educational process.
  • Summer FUNdamentals: Facilitates rising ninth graders' transition to high school. Provides activities that enable students to develop greater reasoning, critical thinking, communication, and writing skills, as well as the self-confidence and knowledge that will help them throughout high school.

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:

  • Parent/Guardian Support: Offers a curriculum to help parents understand the secondary and post-secondary educational system in the US. Topics includes: funding higher education, understanding standardized test scores, and the difference between high school graduation requirements and college admissions requirements.
  • Leadership Development: Facilitates parent participation at FCE. Helps parents acquire the skills and the confidence to ensure that their children receive the educational services they need.

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:

  • Transitions: Offers workshops to college freshmen and their parents that facilitate FCE students' transition to college and help parents become more comfortable with the idea of having their children leave home. Consists of a senior retreat, presentations by experts in college life, and discussion groups led by FCE college students and alumni.
  • Communications: Frequent communication with all our college students allows us to learn of possible problems early on and to offer effective strategies either for preventing them or for reducing their severity. FCE stays in contact through face-to-face meetings, phone calls, e-mails, and Facebook.
  • Relationship Building among Students: FCE creates opportunities for students at the same college to offer one another support and advice. FCE college students also serve as hosts when FCE high school students visit the college where an FCE student is in attendance.
  • Relationship Building with Colleges: FCE College Success students primarily receive advice and support from the faculty and administrators at the colleges and universities they attend. In addition, FCE continues to develop stronger relationships with college administrators who work with FCE students, helping them access the resources they need to be successful.
  • Mentoring: FCE college students and alumni serve as mentors, tutors, and coaches for the college bound students. Each summer, an FCE student serves as an intern in the FCE offices.
  • Career Development: FCE provides workshops to help FCE college students identify internship and career opportunities.

Scholarship Program

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.

Success Stories

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.

Services Provided

  • Academic enrichment/tutoring/study skills
  • Career exploration and counseling/internships
  • College admissions guidance and counseling
  • College fairs/campus visits
  • College transition and retention support
  • Financial aid advising/FAFSA completion
  • Leadership development
  • Mentoring
  • Parent/family services
  • SAT/ACT and other test preparation
  • Scholarships and last-dollar grants


Race & Ethnicity

  • Asian or Pacific Islander: 14%
  • Hispanic/Latino: 70%
  • Other: 4%
  • African American: 12%

Education Level and
Number of Students

  • High School: 70
  • Middle School: 0
  • Elementary School: 0
  • Post-secondary: 55
  • Non-traditional: 0

Populations Served

  • Academically At-risk
  • Academically High-performing


  • More than 75%

Matriculation & Completion

  • 4-yr College Matriculation: 100%
  • 4-yr College Graduation: 89%