Barrio Logan College Institute creates legacy of opportunity

Encouraging college dreams and the pursuit of an engaging life are causes worth celebrating.

And while traditional holiday giving may be over, the Barrio Logan College Institute accepts support year-round to help empower students to make positive changes in their lives and their communities.

Barrio Logan College Institute is a comprehensive college-prep after-school program for local disadvantaged students. Following a holistic approach, BLCI works with students as early as third grade to promote higher education as a ticket out of poverty.

According to Executive Director Jose Cruz, BLCI prepares students from San Diego's most underserved areas to become the first in their families to attend college. Following this path breaks the cycle of poverty and allows students to make a positive impact on both themselves and their community.

"Kids aren't burdens, they are treasures," Cruz said.

He said that of the BLCI participants to date, all first-generation college students, 100 percent have pursued higher education while 80 percent of those who pursued college either successfully graduated or are on track to do so. The success rate of BLCI students is markedly higher than other similar individuals lacking the support the program provides. According to Cruz, nationally, only one in 10 of every first-generation college student successfully graduates college.

A key component of the BLCI program is incorporating families as members of a team. While the program is free to participants, parents must contribute 30 hours of service to BLCI. Options for involvement vary and include everything from helping with custodial needs at BLCI to participating in workshops such as communication classes or financial literacy. BLCI also strives to teach families about the American education system and the value of higher education.

"For families, there is a menu of opportunities simply to get them engaged," Cruz said.

Not only do BLCI graduates benefit from increased job prospects, they also are more likely to be involved and engaged in their community. "They live a more inclusive life," said Cruz.

There are various ways to get involved in supporting BLCI's mission. Donations help change lives. While many individuals may increase charitable giving around the holidays, BLCI accepts donations year-round and such continuing support is critical. Visit BLCI's website at www.blci.org and click on "Donate" to make a donation online or to learn more about sending a contribution by mail.

BLCI also needs volunteers to work hand-in-hand with students, families and staff and to serve as tutors, mentors and staff. BLCI encourages career nights to expose students to the world and welcomes tours of companies as well.

"Professionals from all walks of life bring unique gifts and experiences which benefit our students," said Cruz. "Current college students also make excellent examples for the kids by volunteering at BLCI as tutors."

Ambassadors from the Barrio Logan College Institute are available to speak about the program and its mission to businesses, civic groups, clubs and more.

To learn more, contact the Barrio Logan College Institute at 619-232-4686 or visit blci.org.

Source: DiscoverSD

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