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2022 Grants Challenge

Educating, Encouraging, and Empowering Emigrant Communities

Coptic Educational Foundation (CEF) helps to open doors for immigrant, refugee, and first generation youth who have the potential to succeed both academically and professionally but whose socioeconomic status, immigration status, and/or cultural background creates a barrier to overcome. We achieve this by bridging the gap between education and these closed-off communities through culturally responsive and person-centered educational services for middle and high school, college, and vocational students who attend our partner churches.

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What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Immigrant and Refugee Support

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

County of Los Angeles

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

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

CEF’s target population for this program are immigrant, refugee, and first generation students who also attend our partner churches. These isolated communities are in desperate need of services, but the only way to reach them is to meet them where they are: church. About 500,000 of these individuals live in California; the majority live in Los Angeles. 23% of our target population lives below the federal poverty line; more than twice the average rate. Because they are so insular, this immigrant community is often unknown, unaccessed, and forgotten by many organizations and government agencies. And yet, many of the youth that we serve grow up to become successful and thriving adults. For example, our board member Mina Hanin came here in 2011 as a refugee from Egypt. Mina received a scholarship from CEF to attend UC Riverside. Now he is currently enrolled with a full scholarship in his master’s program at Harvard while simultaneously serving as a highly passionate CEF board member.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

CEF bridges the opportunity gap by connecting students who attend our affiliate churches to important resources, educating them about how to utilize those resources, supporting them through individual counseling scholarships and subsidies, and ultimately empowering them to break through the trap of poverty and become successful and contributing members of society. We offer a variety of comprehensive services, including college admission and personal statement writing workshops for high school students, as well as test prep, financial aid counseling, and merit-based scholarships. We offer graduate school workshops and career counseling for college students, subsidized vocational training, and college counseling for immigrant, refugee, asylee, and first generation students applying for college in the US. We also offer high school preparation for middle school students and resources for families requiring assistance with special needs education. Due to cultural or linguistic barriers, a great number of families who attend the churches we collaborate with are unsure of what resources to reach out to or who to ask for help in order to ensure better educational opportunities for their children. CEF is unique in that it is an institution that parishioners can trust. As the board, founders, and staff all have lived experience of its target population, CEF is sensitive to their cultural and linguistic needs, and can thus provide the most suitable resources needed for their success.

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

CEF envisions a more empowered Los Angeles with youth ready to embark on their educational journeys equipped for success. We plan to accomplish the following: -Award 10 students with $1,000 scholarships -Conduct five college admission workshops and five financial aid workshops -Conduct three workshops on personal statements and essay writing -Conduct fifteen workshops on the following topics: extracurricular activities, pursuing multiple scholarships, career planning, and college guide for middle school parents -Sign up at least 10 parents with the homework assistance workshop -Conduct 10 multi-session bootcamps on college admission, personal statement, extracurricular activities, and financial aid In the long term, we envision: -25% reduction in the poverty rate in CEF’s target population in the next 10 years -70% of our program participants leading stable, fulfilling careers by 2030 -A 65% increase in English literacy among our newly emigrated population within 5-10 years

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

Our primary goal is to empower students to pursue higher education in order to reach their full academic and professional potential. Outputs and outcomes are actively measured and published in our annual Assessment Report. The outputs we measure include the number of students who: -Participate in a CEF college admissions workshop, financial aid workshop, and personal statement workshop -Attend one-on-one college counseling sessions -Participate in a community service project The outcomes we measure include: -Number of students who attend a four-year college -Number of students who receive financial aid -Number of students who give back to their community by becoming highly involved in community service. On average, CEF finds that 85% of students who participate in CEF’s services will attend a four-year college after high school or community college; 75% will receive some form of financial aid to attend, and 90% will become highly involved in a community service project.

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

Direct Impact: 500

Indirect Impact: 2,000

Describe the specific role of the partner organization(s) in the project, program, or initiative.

Although we are not submitting a collaborative proposal, CEF partners with 7 churches across Los Angeles to conduct outreach. Our target population endures a 25% poverty rate; most members attend the churches CEF collaborates with. Each church is operated by clergy people who understand the unique circumstances of all of their regular parishioners and their families and serve as their advocates and liaisons to CEF. Our partnerships with these churches allow us to make the most direct outreach possible to a population who has been routinely overlooked and neglected by other nonprofits who are unfamiliar with the vastness of the educatiol are in the United States. These partnerships, combined with our lived experience, CEF is uniquely prepared to fill that gap of understanding.