New funding helps high school students transition

By Raymond Nava

California Representative Judy Chu presented a $200,000 check to the East Los Angeles College Family and Community Engagement Services program on August 26. 

By her side was leadership from ELAC, the Los Angeles Community College District and Alhambra Unified School District. 

The FACES program aims to provide a seamless transition from high school to college while building trust with the families of kindergarten through 12th grade students.

Chu, a Democrat and former professor at ELAC, was able to secure the funding for the FACES program through the Congressional Community Project Funding process. 

The funding was added as part of the 2022 fiscal year congressional appropriations process.

The CCPF allows members of Congress to request funding for projects in their districts. 

The Legislative & Governmental Affairs Officer for the Los Angeles Community College District, Maria Luisa Veloz, shared that all the colleges in the district submitted funding requests that in total was $6.345 million. 

She said that she sent all requests to the respective representatives of the districts each college is in. 

Veloz said that the law firm Holland and Knight lobbied on behalf of Representative Chu in order to secure the $200,000 funding for the FACES program.

The FACES program was first launched with the Los Angeles Unified School District and worked in conjunction with their Parent and Community Engagement program.

In an interview with Campus News, the Dean of Student Service, Blanca Gomez said the idea for the FACES program was inspired by the mission of the PACE program at LAUSD. 

The mission was to engage with parents and the community to facilitate their children’s transition from high school to college. 

“When their sons or daughters come, they not only know of the services, but they also know who we are, and the campus and where they can go,” Gomez stated. 

During the pandemic, the FACES program acted, as Gomez put it, as a “conduit” of communication between ELAC and the community

The program was able to have Spanish and English webinars in addition to College Hour webinars once a month. 

The program, in conjunction with LAUSD, proved to be such a success that the Montebello Unified School District reached out and wanted to do something similar to the College Hour that FACES did because it was so popular. 

Gomez said the first FACES College Hour with the PACE program had over 100 participants that came from South Gate to the northeast of Lincoln Heights.

When asked about how the $200,000 would be spent, Gomez said that it would be up to the parents and community and what they determine is needed.

“If it’s for bringing [students] onto campus, getting buses, providing activities, getting speakers, I think there’s a lot of opportunity,” Gomez said.

Gomez further shared, “We want to do it collectively.” 

Gomez says they want to start having the conversation with parents regarding the transition of their children into higher education. 

There are even plans to poll parents on what they feel they currently need and how the FACES program can help them with those issues.

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