City Councilman Helps Save Education Program for Low-Income Students

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Latino students sometimes struggle to continue their education, which can hinder their long-term life outlook.

In San Antonio, TX (63.34% Latino population), many students have counted on the Upward Bound Program from the U.S. Department of Education to help prepare them for college.

However, according to the San Antonio Express-News, funding for the program – which has been in operation for the last 20 years in the city’s primarily Latino-populated South San Independent School District (SSAISD) – has been cut and was in danger of not continuing.

According to reports, 64 SSAISD students participate in Upward Bound.

“[That] number probably would have increased to about 100 had there been enough funding to continue the program this year and recruit a new freshman class of students,” said Jessica Weaver, CEO of Communities in Schools, the organization that administers the Upward Bound program.  “[The school district] didn’t score high enough on their new grant application to qualify for funding or to appeal the decision.”

In an effort to save the program, San Antonio District 4 City Councilman Rey Saldaña, who himself used the program to help him attend Stanford University, has stepped in in an effort to secure local funding from area foundations to help the program “survive” until SSAISD can re-apply for grant funding.

Money from Upward Bound allowed Saldaña to spend two summers living in dorms and taking classes at Our Lady of the Lake University.

Because he was the first member of his family to attend college, this experience proved to be “life-changing” for the future Councilmember and helped prepare him for what college would be like.

“That was one of the only exposures I had at being away from home on a college campus and feeling comfortable with something like being away and being in a setting like a college environment,” Saldaña told the Express-News. “That’s one of the reasons my family felt comfortable letting me leave.”

Some of the services provided by Upward Bound staff members include helping students with their college applications, taking them on college visits, and hosting SAT prep courses. For first-time prospective college students, like Saldaña, these services are invaluable.

“[Upward Bound staff members] filled the void of questions with answers I wouldn’t have been able to find otherwise, not in my home or in my neighborhood,” Saldaña said.

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By The Numbers By The Numbers

37

Percent

of Head Start and Early Head Start participants are Latino.

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