Kid City's college access aims to prepare high school juniors and seniors for the college application process and provide them with information on undergraduate admissions, financial aid, majors and careers, and scholarships. Many of the students are very low-income first generation youth who come from underperforming school with limited resources. They need a lot of help navigating the college application process and encouragement to pursue their dreams of higher education. Kid City's college persistence program supports and engages students who have been through the college access program through mentorship, leadership activities, college visits, and reunions. Students are assisted with emotional and spiritual support as well as with assistance with financial aid, goal-setting, career planning, and job preparation.
We are proud of every single student at Kid City-- from a student doggedly pursuing his diploma at community college, to those excelling at UCLA and UC Berkeley. This year, Kid City has several students planning to enroll in private colleges, including Yale, Fordham, and Elizabethtown. Jose Lopez comes from a family of five that has an annual income of less than $20,000. His mother is a homemaker and his father is a garment worker who gets paid by piece. They live in a 250 square foot room, with two bunk beds, a folding table, and one folding chair. When Jose was little he visited his father at work and was impressed because his father sewed so fast. His father knew he could do better. After his family goes to sleep, Jose pulls out the table and chair, and studies for his advance placement classes. He has earned above a 4.0 GPA and, thanks to coming to Kid City's SAT study groups, scored a perfect SAT math score of 800. Jose has played trumpet in Kid City's jazz band, as well as the all-city jazz band. He has taught music to younger students at Kid City, and completed Kid City's work readiness workshop. Jose was recently accepted to Yale, and this fall he will join the Yale class of 2018. At Kid City, we do not have sufficient resources to fill all the needs of every student. Instead, we try to identify where we can make the biggest difference for each person. Jose didn't need academic support, but he was unsure about applying to private schools. Program manager Laura Cuellar knew he was ivy league ready, and on her own time, drove to Fresno to introduce Jose to the Yale dean of admissions, who was there with the Ivy League Project. Laura carefully noted the dean's advice, and helped Jose edit his application so that each point the dean made was addressed. According to the New York Times, a child born in the bottom quintile of the income distribution has just a 5 percent chance of moving up to the top quintile without college. The chance of making it to the top nearly quadruples if the child gets a college degree. But currently, the proportion of children from low-income families who obtain a college degree is low around 9 percent compared with 50 percent of children from affluent families, (Peg Tyre, Improving Economic Diversity at the Better Colleges) We are proud of Jose, and of Kid City staff, who improve the chances for students like Jose.
Kid City's mission is to transform young people's lives by welcoming them into a caring, college-going culture, and by nurturing the development of leadership, agency, and intellectual curiosity. We place a high value on lasting, genuine relationships; and radical hospitality that demonstrates respect for all individuals, including LGBTQ, dreamers, undocumented families, and differently abled. We practice careful, empathic listening and encourage students to be honest as they find their own voice and share their stories. We believe in creating expectations tailored to individual students, and in the power of a community of fictive kin to encourage everyone to succeed. We recognize the pervasiveness of educational inequity, severe economic hardship, and other injustices, and seek within our learning community to understand and alleviate their affect on the youth and communities we serve. We believe the communities we serve, though low in economic resources, are rich in other ways, and that everyone involved has gifts to contribute. We are committed to Kid City as a transformative program that ultimately impacts extended families and communities, as it allows students to dream and become self-empowered leaders.