DIAMOND BAR, Calif. — The National College Resources Foundation has been helping students get accepted into colleges for 21 years.
Now, they’re faced with an even bigger challenge: keeping those students nearing graduation in the middle of a pandemic encouraged.
Getting students excited about college is a task in itself, but doing it virtually during unprecedented times takes a special type of organization.
A wall of college pennants in Dr. Theresa Price's office are just a fraction of schools she has helped students get accepted to, but for her, it’s not just about where you go, it’s what you do.
She’s hosting a STEAM expo to get students excited about majors they’re not as inclined to choose.
"It’s igniting, exciting, and building the next innovators, entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists in the world of STEAM," said Dr. Theresa Price, founder of the National College Resources Foundation.
All fields Dr. Price says are in critical need of minorities.
“87 percent of jobs in technology are white male," she explained. "When you think about the world and all the things we do to be able to move and go, we need diversity!”
The Foundation's mission is to curtail high school dropout rates and increase college enrollment among minorities. With five million stem job openings nationwide, Dr. Price says she wants to be the first to tell the students, this is an option.
"Because nobody ever told them they could be an aerospace engineer or an astronaut or build rockets," she said.
But the STEAM Expo is just one of several the Foundation hosts annually. The Black and Latino College Expos have helped 500,000 students get into college with more than $1 billion dollars in scholarships and grants.
Now that there’s a pandemic, Dr. Price is concerned the disparity between black and brown students and their counterparts will only increase.
"So it’s like, we’re already at a deficit, in terms of underserved, underrepresented, at risk homeless, and foster students, they were already not at the levels they need to be, this is going to make it more," she said.
The National College Resources Foundation is adapting to the times, shifting all expos online. But now, Dr. Price’s Foundation is filling a new need. Many students are reaching out, homeless and hungry without a campus to live at.
"So we had a lot of students who didn’t have anywhere to go, they didn’t have any food, they just didn’t know what to do," she said.
Dr. Price and her staff have been sending those students money for plane tickets, food and computers to continue learning online.
She says her organization will answer the phone for any student who calls with any need. Crystal Westbrooks says the call they answered for her is what led her to a four-year university.
"I came here and I asked them like, 'what are my options?' They helped me apply, found a scholarship for me and my best friend and that was it from there," Westbrooks said.
Now that she’s graduated, she came right back, ready to show students the same guidance Dr. Price showed her.
"It’ll be the best experience you have," she tells students.
Dr. Price says she just wants everyone to have an equal opportunity.
“I never want a student to feel like they can’t do it and that’s why we always have an answer for whatever they’re going through, for whatever they have," she explained.
Empowering, educating and engaging students to college, careers, and beyond.
The next event the National College Resources Foundation is hosting is the Virtual New York/East Coast Black College Expo on Friday, October 16. For more information, visit here.