San José Aspires (SJ Aspires)
Source: San José Mayor’s Office of Strategic Partnerships: Sheyla Tupua, Strategic Initiatives Advisor, Education & Equity
Organization: San José Aspires is a program designed for first-generation college going students at select schools in San José. Students in the program receive micro-scholarships, or scholar dollars, as they complete different tasks connected to college and career readiness. Through the program, students may earn up to $5,000 to support their post-secondary educational goals.
As a three-way partnership between the Office of Mayor Sam Liccardo, the San José Public Library, and the San José Public Library Foundation, SJ Aspires can be a model for how public and philanthropic partners can come together to create new pathways for post-secondary success.
The average California public high school student receives only about 12 minutes of college counseling between freshman year and graduation. Seeking to reduce the financial and informational barriers that disadvantaged students face in accessing academic opportunities, Mayor Sam Liccardo championed an expansion of opportunities for first-generation college students through San José Aspires.
Administered by the San José Public Library, SJ Aspires provides nearly 1,200 students from Title 1 high schools, who are often left off the higher-education-bound path, with a roadmap to post secondary education. Students are awarded up to $5,000 in micro scholarships or scholar dollars as they make decisions, take actions, and achieve accomplishments that are connected to college and career success. These scholar dollars become real dollars when the student graduates from high school and begins their post-secondary education.
A FOUNDING STEERING COMMITTEE MEMBER
OUR WORK WITH NCCPC
San José Aspires values the relationships and expertise of others in the educational equity space. Through NCCPC, we are able to develop a tight-knit community of like-minded partners who are committed to improving higher education access for underrepresented students.
Photo credit: San José Aspires
WHAT COLLABORATION LOOKS LIKE
San José Aspires’ involvement in the Policy and Workforce committee has increased students’ access to college and career opportunities. Our partnership with NCCPC is invaluable, building a cross-cultural community of practice to serve and provide opportunities for students in SJ Aspires.
GOALS FOR 2022 AND BEYOND
San José Aspires’ goals for NCCPC are centered around building community and influencing change to address the unique needs of first-generation and underrepresented students. As our first cohorts of students begin to graduate, we are excited to see how NCCPC’s partnerships provide more opportunities for our students as they transition from high school and into post-secondary school.
WHY NCCPC AND WHY NOW
NCCPC’s leadership is invaluable in shaping policy and influencing change. Through the partnership, San José Aspires is able to provide more opportunity for our students and advocate on behalf of our students in order to create a more equitable educational landscape in San José.