Founded in 1972, Mission Graduates clarified its commitment to getting more youth from the Mission District into college as a means to achieve economic equity and strengthen the fabric of the community. MG works to fulfill its mission through a wide range of K-12 after-school, in-school, and summer programs that reach over 1,100 low-income children, youth, and families from San FranciscoÃ?Â?Ã?Â¢Ã?Â??Ã?Â??s Mission District each year. College education as an expectation and goal for every child is a theme woven throughout all of MGÃ?Â?Ã?Â¢Ã?Â??Ã?Â??s programs that serve low-income youth and families from the Mission District. Our College Connect program identifies high school juniors who would be the first in their family to attend college, surround them with caring adult experts in college admissions as well as a cohort of peers who are just as committed to attending college, and supports them and their families all the way through college graduation. While participating in our program, students are provided training on college entrance exams, coaching in developing a personal statement, support in navigating the world of financial aid and scholarships, and suggestions on colleges and universities that will best meet their needs. We ensure that students are not only accepted into college, but that they acquire the financial means to attend, and the support to ensure they receive their diploma. College Connect launched in 2008 with just nine youth in the inaugural cohort.
Meet Edgar Mendez, a College Connect participant who completed his education at St. MaryÃ?Â?Ã?Â¢Ã?Â??Ã?Â??s College of California. Edgar represents so well the difference we have made together. He says: Ã?Â?Ã?Â¢Ã?Â??Ã?Â??Graduating in May 2013 is an accomplishment I hold close to my heart. My parents both immigrated from Tarimoro, Michuacan to give me this opportunity. I am the first in my family to graduate from college, and the honor is beautiful to feel. I graduated with a degree in English and Dance, and if I had the opportunity to do my undergrad all over again at Saint Mary's, I would.Ã?Â?Ã?Â¢Ã?Â??Ã?Â?? Because of the preparation and support he received through College Connect, Edgar believed that he could attend AND complete a college education. EdgarÃ?Â?Ã?Â¢Ã?Â??Ã?Â??s story speaks volumes to the tenacity of possibility. It says, Ã?Â?Ã?Â¢Ã?Â??Ã?Â??I can do it because I believe I canÃ?Â?Ã?Â¢Ã?Â??Ã?Â??. It says, Ã?Â?Ã?Â¢Ã?Â??Ã?Â??I can do it because I am not aloneÃ?Â?Ã?Â¢Ã?Â??Ã?Â??. It says, Ã?Â?Ã?Â¢Ã?Â??Ã?Â??I can do it because the option is not an exception; it is an expectation I have with confidenceÃ?Â?Ã?Â¢Ã?Â??Ã?Â??.