When Cynthia Erenas was eight years old, her father risked everything to move their family from Mexico to the United States. As a young teenager feeling disconnected in her new home, Cynthia struggled at school until a teacher gave her the push she needed to join College Track, a program that helps students succeed in high school and beyond.
A small after-school program, branded i.am College Track in homage to founding partner musician will.i.am and his i.am angel foundation, launched in Boyle Heights four years ago with 45 students. Last week it graduated all 45 of them.
In 2012, College Track opened in the Los Angeles community of Boyle Heights with the promise to take students to and through college. Four years later, we celebrate the 45 high school graduates who are heading off to college in the fall. Reaching this milestone took courage, confidence, and determination. "Defying Odds on the Path to College," takes us through the journey of two of our Boyle Heights graduates.
As first-generation college applicants begin the road to higher education, they encounter many barriers to completing college. College Track New Orleans helps to guide high school students from underserved communities to college graduation by providing academic support, leadership training, financial and college advising, and scholarships.
On November 12th, we celebrated the launch of College Track Watts. It was truly a historic occasion. As our country marked the 50th anniversary of the Watts riots, we made a commitment--in partnership with the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, Partnership for Los Angeles Schools and Green Dot Public Schools--to long-lasting change for the students and families of Watts. Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilman Joe Buscaino joined our ninth grade student Alex and alumna Kyra in speaking at our celebration in the Jordan Downs housing development.