LA2050 Grants Challenge applications are open now through June 28th, 2024.
2023 Grants Challenge

PUENTE's College and Career Program

PUENTE's College and Career Program provides continual services for up to 10 years to motivate and empower local youth to succeed in their pre-college performance, gain acceptance to and persist through college, obtain a competitive degree, and enter the workforce. Program provides direct classroom instruction, healthcare career exploration workshops, paid internships, scholarships, and intensive case management to increase the number of college graduates in Los Angeles and breaking the cycle of poverty in Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles.


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

Income Inequality

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

East LA

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?

PUENTE seeks to combat poverty in the historically disadvantaged communities of Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles and move the needle of achievement through high-quality, data-informed education. In a community where 94.6% of residents are Latina/o, gentrification is making PUENTE service area unaffordable and displacing residents. In 2021, median income in service area was $54,440 compared to $76,367 countywide. The renter's rate of Boyle Heights (75%) and East LA (65%) is among the highest in the county (53.8%). Only 10.8% of PUENTE service area residents over the age of 24 have a Bachelor's degree and 45% hold less than a high school diploma. In 2021, the weekly median earnings for a person over age 24 was $809 with a high school diploma and $1,334 with a Bachelor's degree. Latino freshmen enrollment declined 7.8% from spring 2020 to spring 2021, the first decline of Latino enrollment in a decade. In 2021, the college completion rate was 23.5% nationally and 20.6% among Latinos.

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

PUENTE's College and Career Program supports high school and college students through College Access and College Success. N.E.xT. - Navigating Education and Transitions - is an alumni engagement program to provide extended mentoring and track long-term outcomes through an alumni database and communication / engagement strategies. College Access serves over 320 students from Los Angeles Unified School District partner schools (Mendez High School and Roybal Learning Center). Program components include weekly in-person instruction on college and career readiness; case management that intensifies during senior year in support of submitting applications for college, financial aid, and scholarships; healthcare career exploration workshops in partnership with Keck School of Medicine of USC; college tours; and summer programming. College Success provides over 120 students who completed College Access with supportive services to complete their postsecondary education and gain the skills and experiences necessary to successfully enter a competitive job market. Program components include monthly 90-minute workshops; intensive case management; scholarships for college going high school seniors, needs- or merit-based scholarships, and micro-scholarships; peer mentoring; and paid PUENTE internships. N.E.xT. supports college graduates to transition into the workforce or purse an advanced degree. Program components are workshops, networking opportunities, and continued case management.

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

The vision of success for PUENTE's College and Career Program is to increase college graduation rates leading to higher median household incomes in Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles. Expansion includes more parent engagement and summer programming and the establishment of N.E.x.T. Research shows strong family engagement increases college readiness and completion especially among Latina/o families; we are increasing parent engagement workshops from 2 to 8 annually. Summer programming is expanding from 4 to 6 weeks with separate curriculum for each high school grade level; previously, summer served only seniors. Students will conduct a service-learning project, develop and pitch a STEM business plan, or get a head start on college applications. In 4 years, College Success grew from 15 to 91 post-secondary students and growing by 30 students annually; support through scholarships and N.E.x.T. is essential to ensure students persist and transition from college to workforce.

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

The primary goals for the College and Career Program are: 100% financial aid application completion / renewal rates to complete post-secondary education with minimal student loan debt, 100% high school graduation rate, 90% college acceptance rate, 75% college transfer rate for students attending two-year colleges, 100% of retained college students persisting towards graduation, and 100% of retained college students entering a career or seeking advanced degree within one year of graduation. In four years, the College and Career Program has served 1,367 high school and college students with a four-year average of 97% college acceptance rate; 88% program persistence rate to college completion; 26,741 weekly sessions of one-hour college and career readiness instruction; 3,079 sessions of one-on-one case management; $89,900 in PUENTE scholarships awarded. This spring, the program celebrated its first cohort of 7 graduating college and more to follow each year.

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

Direct Impact: 530

Indirect Impact: 65