LAPF & Uber Team up to Promote College Success

LAPF & Uber Team up to Promote College Success

By Peter Horton

The ceremonies that mark the end of high school are bittersweet for students and their families. At awards night and graduation, seniors cross a stage to celebrate their accomplishments, only to linger outside the venue to say rushed goodbyes to friends and teachers. Besides dealing with the loss of these day-to-day relationships, students have to face the challenge of an uncertain future.

At senior awards nights at Manual Arts Senior High School and West Adams Prep High School, eight students could look towards the future with new optimism after they received transportation scholarships from Uber. Uber awarded $8,000 across both campuses. The two high schools are partner schools of the LA Promise Fund, which partnered with Uber to make the scholarships available. At LAPF, we work hard to get every student at our partnership schools to cross that stage on graduation day. But their academic journeys don’t end there; that’s why we want to find ways to continue to support our students and help them navigate the obstacles and inequities they encounter.

Transportation costs are one major obstacle. The College Board estimates that students in the 2018-19 academic year will spend 18% of their total living expenses on transportation, between $3,000 and $4,000. To offer some context, that’s about twice the average yearly in-state tuition at California’s public community colleges.

For Daisey Lopez, a transportation scholarship recipient from Manual Arts, the Uber scholarship will help her attend CSU Long Beach while caring for her family at home. The oldest of five in a single parent household, Daisey describes herself as a second parent to her siblings. All across California, students like Daisey have responsibilities at home to balance with their academics. And if transportation between home and campus is inefficient or inexpensive, students can be forced to make an impossible choice between school and family.

Other students are unable to afford the cost of living on campus, forcing them to take out loans or to turn down admission even to schools they’ve dreamed of attending. Xochitl Castillo, a senior at West Adams, says the transportation scholarship has helped her attend UCLA next year. “This money can prevent me from having to take out loans,” says Xochitl. “With the extra $500 for Uber rides, it can transport me back and forth from campus to home, since I was not able to afford housing.”

The three other award recipients at West Adams note the importance of the money to their goals and their families. David Juarez is going to attend LATTC, and he is especially grateful for his $2,500 transportation scholarship. David uses a wheelchair, which can make finding public transportation frustrating and time-consuming. He knows the scholarship will help him get to class on time. But he — along with Brian McLucas (attending CalState LA), another scholarship recipient — is also thinking of his mom, feeling relieved that she will have one less burden to worry about. Jasmin Ortega, who will attend Santa Monica College, agrees that the money will be a relief for her family, but she points out, “It will also be better for me, because I will be less stressed about the money and able to mainly focus on school.”

The LA Promise Fund is committed to developing creative solutions to the challenges that might otherwise hinder our students in achieving college success.