How Public Housing is helping poor students
This article has been sent to us by Kim Thomas-Barros with The Neighborhood Academic Initiative. This article is great because is focuses on how skyrocketing college costs are impacting poorer students, and thus programs are being set up to solve that problem. People from Asian, Black, Hispanic and White backgrounds are coming together to support these students as they try to make their mark in education. And we couldn’t be more happy for them. Read it and take a look.
The distance from the Avalon Gardens public housing development in South Central Los Angeles to elite Smith College in western Massachusetts should be measured in more than the 2,900 miles separating them.
The housing project near Watts is a cluster of nearly identical pale orange one- and two-story buildings surrounded by a high metal gate installed to keep gangs out. It is home to about 440 low-income, mainly Latino and black, residents whose scramble for economic survival is eased by subsidized rents.
In contrast, Smith College, a women’s school where costs per student can top $69,000 a year, is one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation, dotted with Victorian architecture and its own pond. While Smith has enrolled a more diverse student body in recent years, its alumnae include such well-known and affluent figures as feminist icon Gloria Steinem, the late former First Lady Nancy Reagan and influential chef Julia Child.
Journeying from one to the other and back again is not easy. But Maria Perez did it, growing up in Avalon Gardens through high school and earning her bachelor’s degree at Smith last year. And now she is helping other youngsters in Los Angeles’ public housing make their own academic journeys, not necessarily to Smith but at least to a California State University or University of California campus. A community college nearby would be fine, too.