2023 Grants Challenge

Connect to College/CAUSA (CCC)

Connect to College/CAUSA (CCC) is a year-round, after-school college access program that serves low-income youth and families in the San Gabriel Valley of eastern Los Angeles County. For the past 19 years, we have sent one hundred percent of our CCC graduates to college. CCC enables students to succeed academically and personally through high impact, one-to-one mentoring and tutoring; career pipelines; STEAM focused enrichment activities; nutritious food; and social services.


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

K-12 STEAM Education

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

San Gabriel Valley

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?

The students and families served by CCC reside in the neglected San Gabriel Valley of eastern Los Angeles County. One hundred percent of students are Latinx, and 100 percent are low-income. The San Gabriel Valley has an unusually high concentration of poverty. In Pomona Unified School District (PUSD), the largest district in our region, 91.5 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunches, compared to the statewide 59.2 percent of students who qualify. Local youth and families need academic support. In PUSD, only 27.4 percent of 4th graders are proficient in reading, and only 30.6 percent of 4th graders are proficient in math. The latest available data for PUSD shows a counselor-to-student ratio of 594:1 (more than twice the recommended 250:1) and, alarmingly, zero social workers (Kidsdata.org). Without adequate resources to address their needs, struggling students fall into patterns of frustration and failure: in 2020 PUSD's graduation rate was only 77 percent.

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

Uncommon Good's Connect to College/CAUSA (CCC) program is an after-school year-round college access and completion program available to low-income students who have the goal of earning a college degree. Established in 2004, the program serves 4th - 12th grade students with the mission of sending all graduates to college. For 19 years straight, 100 percent of our C2C graduates have gone to college, many to the most prestigious institutions in the nation, including UCLA, UC Berkeley, Stanford, Columbia and Princeton. Further, we have tracked 99 percent of our students and have found that 90 percent have graduated from college or are on track to do so. CCC provides one-to-one mentoring, tutoring, and academic guidance; STEAM focused enrichment activities, including courses in robotics and coding; and systems-changing programs in dyslexia services and mental health. The CAUSA piece of CCC is our urban farming and hunger-relief program, which also serves as a real-world science laboratory for CCC students. CAUSA produces more than 20 tons of fresh fruit and vegetables annually, providing healthy food for all client families that they otherwise could not afford. Through the program, students study environmental science, test water and soil quality, and help maintain fruit orchards at local schools. CCC also includes a medical career pipeline, connecting students with medical professionals in UG's MED program and hosting a variety of health profession-related workshops.

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

Our vision is to send every CCC graduate to and through college, allowing our low-income, Latinx students to rise out of poverty and build economic security for themselves and their families. Each student who successfully navigates this path will leave a significant wake that impacts their school, their district, and their community. Together, students, families, and Uncommon Good will demonstrate the power of key tools that are widely underutilized: long-term mentoring, quality academic guidance, and structured literacy instruction. We will continue focusing on STEAM enrichment to build on the 42 percent of our class of 2023 graduates who have declared STEAM related majors. We envision expanding our literacy and dyslexia services to help districts throughout eastern Los Angeles County grow their own capacity to teach reading well-raising the literacy skills of all students, including the 20% of students who have dyslexia.

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

Uncommon Good tracks students' grades via a cooperative agreement between Uncommon Good, parents, and schools. Our organizational goal is for 80 percent or more students to have a grade point average of 3.0 or better, which we meet or exceed nearly every semester. Uncommon Good also tracks the number of high school seniors who enroll in college. For the past 19 years, 100 percent of our program graduates have gone to college. Using the National Student Clearinghouse as well as one-to-one contacts, we have tracked 99 percent of our college students, and 90 percent have graduated from college or are on track to do so. Finally, we regularly gather evaluative data directly from mentors, tutors, students, and parents via workshop evaluations, exit interviews, and one-to-one meetings. In these discussions, we regularly hear of growth in students' self-confidence and sense of belonging, as well as academic performance.

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

Direct Impact: 824

Indirect Impact: 22,307