Los Angeles Councilman John Lee Thursday announced a partnership with The Change Reaction nonprofit to provide financial assistance to high school students in his district whose families have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pilot program, Project Elevate, will give a total of $25,000 in grants and subsidies to students for their college application and testing fees, which Lee’s office said sometimes cost students hundreds or thousands of dollars.
“Government interventions and assistance have focused on helping people to meet their necessities for daily living,” said Lee, who represents parts of the northwestern and western San Fernando Valley. “But oftentimes, the needs of students get lost in the bigger struggle for survival. I’m so proud to announce this new program in partnership with The Change Reaction, which will help our talented and aspiring college bound youth focus on what is most important — their futures.”
The grants are available for working- and middle-class students who do not meet income thresholds for financial assistance, which is less than $50,000 for a family of four. Lee’s office noted that families that earn just $100 over the income guidelines are left out of financial assistance and have to pay full fees for everything.
“There are often supports for the lowest-income and most vulnerable individuals and families in need, but not necessarily for those who are right at the cusp of falling into a much more serious financial crisis,” Wade Trimmer, Executive Director of The Change Reaction, said. “Our organization focuses on targeting assistance to people at the right moment, because that can really make a difference in the trajectory of their lives.”
Los Angeles Unified School District Local District Northwest Director Mary Melvin spoke Thursday in support of the program, noting that the program offers students hope after a difficult year in which many have experienced loss due to the pandemic.
Sophomore high school student Maya Darghali said Thursday during the program’s launch that she had to help work at her father’s small business during the pandemic to help with staffing problems.
“Like many students at Chatsworth High, I had so much responsibility to juggle on top of my studies. For me and many of my classmates, assistance with AP exam fees was a huge weight lifted off our shoulders,” she said.
The Change Reaction has previously partnered with Lee’s office to give small business grants to business owners in Lee’s district.
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