Update from Sam

The highlight of my college experience had to be my midterms.  I had all A’s and one D.  But, that D is now a B in my math class.  It felt good to work hard to get that grade up and to connect with my professor.  College can make you look at the world and past circumstances of life and help you realize that this is the place to be.  No block, hood or friends can give you the opportunities that college has to offer.  I love my school and I love Ed Fund for believing in me.

Financial Aid Campaign

The Ed Fund is once again partnering with the West Contra Costa Unified School District to carry out a district-wide campaign to increase completion of applications for public aid to support students going to college. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the primary application that students complete in order to be eligible to receive financial aid for college. Knowing that many students never get the opportunity to attend college because their families believe they can’t afford the tuition, our goal is to ensure that all students in the district have the opportunity to complete the FAFSA or the California Dream Application (for undocumented students). Studies indicate that increasing financial aid completion can result in increased college-going rates. Further, low-income California students have been missing out on hundreds of millions of student aid dollars.

In 2012, 33% of district students completed the FAFSA by the March 2nd priority deadline. In 2016, sixty-seven percent of district seniors completed their FAFSA or California Dream Application by the priority deadline. This is the highest completion rate the district has achieved. WCCUSD leads Contra Costa County in financial aid completion.

We invite all high school seniors and their parents to attend one of six Cash for College Nights in the district. Cash for College Nights for the 2017-2018 school year are:

October 26: Kennedy High School
November 7: El Cerrito High School
November 8: De Anza High School

November 14: Hercules High School
November 16: Richmond High School
January 25: Pinole High School

Transfer Student Success! -From Contra Costa College to San José State University

Yesterday, June 28th, was my last day as a community college student at Contra Costa College. A lot has happened to me since graduating from high school in 2013. It is 2016 now and I’m headed off to my university— San José State University, this fall. I truly had a great experience at my community college—especially while hustling my way to success as a transfer student. I graduated from CCC this spring of 2016, with a multitude of degrees, which I am proud about. I had spent an extra year at CCC due to the fact that I wanted to earn a certificate in something that I am incredibly passionate about— filmmaking. I give all credit to my mother because she suggested that I take one course to see if film was something I could see myself doing as future career. Once I took the course, everything hit off from there; I decided to take other film courses which were listed in the program, and successfully earned my Certificate of Digital Film Production in spring of 2015. After receiving my certificate, I finally knew what I wanted do and the career path that I want to continue on. I want to become a Director. At San José State this Fall I will be majoring in Advertising and minoring in Film Production. In the future, I have hopes of not only directing commercials, and commercials for high profile companies, such as Apple, Nissan, and Mc Donald’s to name a few, but to direct feature films, and my own films as well. The world of filmmaking is very beautiful to me: the way one or a group of individuals can think out an idea, and then finesse it to the point where it can be played on screen, and in front of a numerous amount of people.
Aside from discovering what career I wanted to pursue, I have discovered how much of a determined person I am. I have discovered that I have a fire and drive in me, so much so, that I will not give up on my dreams or goals. Yes, I am a tad bit nervous about what the future holds, or even setting foot onto my university campus in the next few weeks; but deep down I know I am not going to quit, and I know that with faith, drive, and hard work, I will be fine. Lastly, I would like to thank the EdFund for giving me the support I needed when starting off my journey as a college student at Contra Costa College. I am very thankful for the EdFund, and how being an EdFund Scholar, has made my years as a college student a little less troublesome. If you would like to view my film career journey, and my ventures onto my new campus, please feel free to visit my website at www.sakeemapayne.com, and my Instagram profile @spaynefilms. Thank you.

Claiming My Education

As a first-generation college student, I take great pride in where I come from, what I’ve been through, and where I’m headed. Navigating college was not easy, and every step of the way there were barriers. I was very fortunate to have had a great support system and lots of mentors back home that made me into the person I am today. The goals I set in high school are completely different from the goals I have now. Experiencing hurdles early on in college helped me realize my true passion for education. When I first read, Paulo Freire’s, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, I derived a profound purpose for education as serving a “cause of liberation” for students. With this transformative approach toward my education, I realized how important it was to take advantage of all the resources available to me so that I could assist my community.

Shortly after my second year, I began to take on different responsibilities at the UC Irvine campus. From serving as President for a Latinx coalition organization to joining a Latino fraternity, all my roles have been focused around community service and promoting educational opportunity. My goals since high school have changed from simply earning a degree to prepare for the workforce to claiming my degree and being proactive where ever I reside.

This summer, I am part of a five-week summer cohort called, Summer Academic Enrichment Program (SAEP) here at UC Irvine. The program focuses on exposing undergraduate students to research and preparing them for graduate school. This upcoming academic year, I will be a Research Assistant for Professor Yenda Giovanatto in School of Education with a focus on language and literacy development in children and adults. I also plan on conducting research surrounding political participation and how age, educational attainment, and religion can effect voter turnout in the Latinx community. In addition, I will be participating in the UCDC program and am in the process of applying for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics fellowship.

After I graduate, I will be applying to Stanford’s Policy, Organization, and Leadership Service graduate program, as well as to University of San Francisco and San Francisco State University’s Educational Leadership programs.

An Amazing Year

It has been an amazing year filled with late nights, good grades, and funny memories out with friends. I don’t think I can imagine my freshman year any different. College was, at the same time, what I expected and not what I expected. In the beginning, it didn’t really sink in that I was at this esteemed university. But as midterms and then finals came creeping up, I knew then that this was not like those days in high school, where I can get by just looking over my notes, and I’d be good to go. I had to form study groups, study late into the nights, create flash cards, and so many other skills I had not had to do before. But midterms and finals weren’t as daunting any more, when later in the year I discovered a major that highly piqued my interest. It was perfect – Human Biology and Society. It was a mixture of life science and social science, and had a Public Health related focus, a field I’m slowly gravitating towards. In the beginning I was unsure of what I really wanted to do. I wanted to go to college, but then what? All these questions were zooming through my mind – what would I study, where, what, HOW? Fortunately, I have received support from so many people – emotionally, mentally, and financially. Programs such as Summer Search, Gooden College Connection, and Edfund provide me with that extra support needed to get through tough times at school. Scholarships such as the Irene Scully Foundation and the Retired Educators Fund continue to support me in my studies today, allowing me to worry less about my financial situation and more on my studies and future. Instead of having to take up more hours for work, I’m able to take up internships and do better in my classes due to more time dedicated to studying. In the beginning, I was lost and confused, but throughout the year, I was able to discover what really interested me, which in turn led me to the field that I hope to have as a career in the future — public health. Without the support of my family, friends, mentors, and of course the scholarships that I will be forever grateful for, I don’t think I could have had a better freshman year of college. I want to thank everyone who has allowed me to get this far, and who will continue to support me in my future endeavors. Thank you!

Thank you for a great year

My second year in college has come to an end I am grateful that I had the Ed Fund Scholarship to provide me its support in funds I needed. It wouldn’t have been possible if the Ron Whittier Education Foundation did not fund the scholarship. I have meet Ron multiple times in events, classrooms, and graduation. I remember giving a speech in class about the ITA academy in school to the funders of the academy and seen Mr. Whittier. I was the representative of the academy at the time and remembered speaking with him after my speech and him being impressed, but was cut short by my fellow students eager to speak with him as well. The other time I spoke with him, I was with the winners of the scholarship. We were trying to convince some people to support EdFund and get to know us. I thank Whittier at that time for all he does to fund kids organizations and academies. Thinking back to my ITA graduation a lady thank Ron Whitter for all he does and spoke highly of him that, when he got to speak his first words were, “I didn’t tell her to say that and I am not that great.” Everyone laughed, but all thought he was a good man for investing in the future of their kids. Someday I would like to thank him and tell him that he is a good man that has inspired a young man like myself to do better and be better. The skills I learn in college are one’s I will apply as I have two more years in college and plan to go to grad school. Those that know my struggles will understand that I have fallen to the lowest point in my life and did not think I would be where I am today. The scholars who received the scholarships were seen as leaders and I did not know that until I asked one of the workers what did they see in each scholar. As I come to the end of this blog I only hope that this scholarship will be around for many years to come so that it will never fade away and those it funded to fund those next in line. This year will be my last time being apart of the Edfund family and I only have gratitude for those that have believed in me and watched me grown for these two years. Thank you for reading and hope the best for you.

A Future Ecofriendly Veterinarian

I came into UC Davis with a fixed mind of pursuing a career in environmental science. I dislike walking through my community and seeing empty areas of soil that could be more aesthetic and beneficial for the people. I dislike visiting other communities; comparing them to Richmond and asking myself, “Why can’t Richmond be like this?” always displeased me because I could never find an answer. I envision my community a place where many people in the future refer to Richmond as an environmental friendly community rather than the violence-related community that the media has portrayed of it. I firmly believed that the only way to make Richmond a more eco friendly community was to attend a four-year university as an environmental science major. Thus, I decided to attend UC Davis as an Environmental Science and Management major in seek of finding an answer to this dilemma. One year attending UC Davis, however, has changed the way I visualize my future goal of making Richmond a more sustainable community.
Winter quarter was a period overwhelming with influential opportunities towards learning more about myself and my interests. I enrolled in an animal science class to fulfill one of my general education requirements. This course was, by far, the most challenging course I’ve enrolled in, yet it interest me the most. I loved learning about the history of companion animals and the benefits of owning one. Through the class I made a few friendships and we conversed about our future goals. I listened to their dreams of pursuing careers related to working with animals: veterinarian, animal breeder, animal nutritionist, etc. I envied them; the careers my animal science friends seek interest me. However, I want to make a positive contribution towards the sustainability of my community, so switching majors was not a choice at the moment. During a conversation with one of my friends, I learned that UC Davis has an environmental club. I decided to join the environmental club and switch majors to seek a career that fascinates me and still make a positive contribution to Richmond in the future–the best of both worlds. I thank the Scully foundation because without their support, I would not have attended UC Davis and discover my passion for animals.


Everything that I have been working for in high school has truly paid off. I survived my first full year of college. All the challenges that came along with it was of course stressful. However, it was all worth it. I learned so much about myself and the goals that I am reaching for. I finalized my major (nursing), as well as the goals that I have decided t reach for after years of gained experience, which is to continue on with road to my education. I have made the decision to go to school to become a Physician Assistant. Something that is along the line of being a doctor, but not really. Other things that I have learned are my habits, such as studying and prioritizing my time. I challenged myself taking more units that the average units needed to be considered a full-time student. Of course this entailed countless hours of studying and sometimes crying. But, I loved every moment of it and every tear, because now I can name all 12 cranial nerves, along with their function and location. Shoutout to a year of struggle and the growing that I have done!