Category: Uncategorized

6 Cups to College Mentorship Program Orientation

By Jessica Irish | May 30, 2017

6 Cups to College is a volunteer mentorship program that pairs a professional with a high school student to meet at least six times, whether at a coffee shop or the student’s school. The Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE) College and Career Planning team administers the program, matches each pair, and provides guidance and resources to the mentors. The mentor and mentee discuss college options, applications, financial aid options, scholarships and career goals.

If you’re interested in becoming a mentor, register for one of our upcoming orientations:


6 Cups to College Mentorship Program Offers Rewarding Experience for Mentors and Mentees

By Jessica Irish | April 27, 2017

Central Valley High School student Adriana Mendoza always knew she wanted to go to college, but wasn’t sure how.

“College was kind of this abstract concept I felt like I was walking into with my eyes closed,” Adriana said. “Since my parents didn’t go to college, I didn’t have anybody to give me much advice. The learning directors at my school did a great job helping us students get signed up and ready to go, but every student has a different story. College goes beyond getting signed up.”

One program Adriana signed up for her senior year did take her beyond the basics. The 6 Cups to College mentorship program exposed her to the various possibilities available to her.

“Through the program, I was able to get professional, one-on-one advice on my college decision,” Adriana said. “My mentor guided me and gave me all sides of the story, showed me the ups and downs of each decision.”

Adriana was accepted to Humboldt State University and CSU Channel Islands. She hopes to attend Humboldt State in the fall, if she receives enough financial aid.

“I am so proud of her,” said Adriana’s mentor and SCOE employee, Ninfa Smith. “I feel very optimistic about her future. It was such a rewarding experience to know that my limited and humble knowledge made a difference. Sometimes it’s the small things that we don’t think are a big deal but, to that student, that small piece of information changes their world.”


6 Cups to College is a volunteer mentorship program that pairs a professional with a high school student to meet at least six times, whether at a coffee shop or the student’s school. The Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE) College and Career Planning team administers the program, matches each pair, and provides guidance and resources to the mentors. The mentor and mentee discuss college options, applications, financial aid options, scholarships and career goals.

The program is one element of an initiative called Stanislaus Futures – a long-term, large-scal
e effort to provide low-income Stanislaus County students the opportunity to achieve their college and career goals through college and financial aid guidance as well as scholarships. SCOE, Stanislaus Community Foundation and The Modesto Bee are all Stanislaus Futures partners, providing support and funding.


During the 2016-2017 school year – 6 Cups to College’s first year – the program had 18 mentors and 21 students. Counselors from the seven Stanislaus Futures pilot high schools selected the students.

Even in its first year, the program has made an impact. SCOE and Stanislaus Community Foundation report that each mentee applied to at least one college and many of them received acceptances from universities like UC Davis, UC Merced, Stanislaus State, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Cal State Long Beach. 80 percent of the mentees in this first cohort will attend college in the fall – that’s 15 percent higher than the college-going rate for the pilot schools. Nine of the 21 mentees will receive a Stanislaus Futures scholarship.


The students aren’t the only ones benefiting from 6 Cups to College.

“I like being a mentor because I can positively impact a local student’s future through education,” said Dr. Cassandra Abram, a mentor and optometrist in Turlock. Her mentee plans to attend Stanislaus State after graduating from Ceres High School. “It’s rewarding to have a hand in helping a student in my community achieve their educational goals, and hopefully set them on a journey for their own personal and career growth like I experienced in college.”

“Being a mentor has ignited a passion in me to invite my friends and colleagues to get involved,” adds Ninfa. “I think we have some amazing talent here in our community that is untapped. I believe we can create a ‘college-going culture’ one student at a time.”


6 Cups to College is hoping to expand its reach to match 175 students with mentors in the 2017-2018 school year. If you’re interested in becoming a mentor, you can attend one of three orientations at the SCOE Patterson Room at 1100 H Street in downtown Modesto this summer:

Thursday, June 29, 6-8:30 p.m.
Wednesday, July 12, 6-8:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 5, 9-11:30 a.m.

Register here. For more information, contact Tony Boatner at (209) 238-1717 or [email protected]

“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” – Oprah Winfrey

Watch our Stanislaus Futures video

By Jessica Irish | April 24, 2017

Think back on a time when someone believed in you. Hope. Possibilities. The desire to give back. That’s the impact Stanislaus Futures has on local college-bound students.

Watch this video to hear from two college students from Stanislaus County, as well as a Modesto couple investing in strategic scholarships for students who have the desire and drive to go to college, but lack the means.

Early FAFSA and Prior-Prior Year

By Jessica Irish | November 3, 2016

Resource Description Source
Changes Impacting the 2017-18 FAFSA Two page overview about the FAFSA, the changes for 2017-18, and frequently asked questions. U.S. Department of Education
Changes to the 2017-2018 FAFSA The National Association for College Admission Counseling has provided a web page filled with resources to help counselors understand the 2017-18 FAFSA changes. The web page includes videos, fact sheets, and frequently asked questions. NACAC
College Students and Parents: What You Need to Know About the 2017-18 FAFSA Two page overview about what’s changing, how the changes will benefit students, and frequently asked questions. U.S. Department of Education
Early FAFSA FAQ These Frequently Asked Questions provide information and guidance pertaining to the 2017-2018 Early FAFSA. This webpage will continue to be updated periodically and will include the date of the update. Federal Student Aid
Early FAFSA This video quickly addresses the Early FAFSA changes and why these changes are helpful to students. NASFAA
Prior-Prior Year: What You need to Know College Counselors One pager outlining what is Prior-Prior Year, the changes ahead and how counselors can help plan their communication strategy. NACAC

Why You Should Fill out the FAFSA

By Jessica Irish | October 5, 2016

Think it’s hard to qualify for financial aid for college? WRONG. Turns out, you CAN get aid—and Adam Conover will tell you how. (Hint: You start by filling out your FAFSA at….)

Find more FAFSA Myths here:

College Is Possible

By Jessica Irish | September 30, 2016

Meet Gabriela Vargas, a freshman at Modesto Junior College majoring in Business Administration and 2016 Stanislaus Community Foundation scholarship recipient.

Q: Did you always have a desire to go to college?

Gabriela: When I was younger I didn’t really think college was for me. I didn’t really know anyone from my same type of background who was going to college. I had a cousin who was going but his family was considered wealthy so I thought that only the rich kids got to go to college. To me, my family’s economic status made college impossible.

I didn’t really get the desire to go to college until my sophomore year in high school when the college counselor started going into our classroom and talking about SATs, ACTs and college representatives visited our high school, but especially when she began telling us about financial aid and scholarships that were available. When I first heard about scholarships and how we didn’t need to pay them back I thought, “Wow, maybe college isn’t impossible.” I remember coming home and telling my mom how there were all types of financial aid out there, not only from the state but also from different people who gave out scholarships. I told her that I was thinking maybe I did want to go to college after all.

Q: Did your parents work as you were growing up? Did they convey a desire for you to go to college?

Gabriela: My dad worked in construction and my mom worked for a couple of years at McDonald’s, but stopped working after my younger brother was born which was when I was about five years old. She did, however, start selling cosmetics shortly after. She didn’t make a lot of money, but it helped our family when the recession hit in 2008 and my dad became unemployed. He would occasionally find small construction jobs, but it was really tough with all the competition for those types of jobs. It was also around that time that my mom decided to find a job with a more stable income and began working in canneries or picking crops.

My mom was the one who would talk to me the most about what I thought I would want to do after high school, even when I was still in elementary school. She would see that I had somewhat of a skill in hairstyling, so she would encourage me to go to beauty school. She would tell me even a short career would be good for me, that I didn’t need to be a doctor or anything fancy if I didn’t want to. She always told me to find something that I liked and not to pursue a career that I didn’t really have an interest in, because I would just end up in debt and with a degree that I wouldn’t use.

Q: What kind of college and financial aid guidance did you get in school?

Gabriela: During high school, teachers and counselors made a big point in reminding us how important it was to pass each and every one of our classes. The college counselor would tell us weeks in advance when college representatives would be visiting our school, she would send out emails with reminders, and she would email a monthly newsletter with important deadlines or things we needed to do to be college ready – not only during our senior year but during all four years. She was also very helpful in setting up various FAFSA workshops to help us fill out the application and even getting MJC to send representatives out to our school and do the whole registration and orientation process during school hours.

Q: What are your aspirations for college and after college?

Gabriela: I want to be a successful student with at least at a 3.5 GPA. I know it might sound ambitious especially since it’s my first semester, but if I don’t, I know I’ll regret not putting more effort into my education. I know that colleges have programs so that students can study in different parts of the world and I think it’d be a really great experience if I could study a semester abroad. Besides Business Administration, I also want to major in Theater Stagecraft, so after college or even during one of the summers while I’m a student, I want to do an internship with a theater company, specifically with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

After college, I want to work with a theater company or at an office in the Central Valley. I know most of the business-related jobs are in the Silicon Valley cities but I want to stay around this area for at least a few years. However my dream is to work as a stage designer for a theater company.

Evelyn Hanshaw Scholarship Fund: 
Empowering Students to Beat the Odds

By Ryan Foy | August 13, 2016

If you asked long-time educator Evelyn Hanshaw to describe her ideal student, she probably wouldn’t just pick someone with straight-As and perfect attendance. Resilience, leadership and perseverance mattered most to her, especially at the middle school named after her in south Modesto.

“Mrs. Hanshaw was mesmerized by the resilience of the students in her school,” said Evelyn Hanshaw Middle School’s first principal, Charles Vidal. “It took more than a GPA to break out of the challenges and barriers confronting you each day living in south Modesto. It took character.”

Notorious for its crime and poverty, south Modesto can be a difficult environment for children to grow up – a place where they often end up in gangs or dropping out of school. Evelyn Hanshaw Middle School became a haven of safety and hope for many of them. Evelyn Hanshaw herself became their matriarch.

When Evelyn passed away in 2005, Charles – who is also the executor of her estate – established a scholarship fund with money Evelyn had bequeathed to award to deserving graduates of her namesake school to go to college. Since she had no children of her own, these students became her children and her bequest was, in a way, her college savings account for them.

“The students at Hanshaw Middle School are smart – and not just book smart – street smart,” Charles said. “They have extracted an intelligence from the challenges and circumstances they were born into and, as Mrs. Hanshaw described to me, with a little financial boost can go the distance.”

For the past ten years, that financial boost has added up to more than $100,000 to 118 students to attend colleges and universities, including Stanislaus State, Modesto Junior College and UC Merced.

Like the Evelyn Hanshaw Scholarship Fund, Stanislaus Futures recognizes students’ challenges and resilience, not just their grades like most traditional scholarships. While students with high achievement deserve recognition for their success, merit-based scholarships may miss an opportunity to provide support to low-income students who have the potential and drive to succeed in college, but lack the means.

As the Evelyn Hanshaw scholars grow in number and experience, Charles asks for one favor in return – to go back to their alma mater as role models for younger generations living in south Modesto and serve as a reminder that resilience can lead to a boundless future.

Ambeck Mortgage Scholarship Fund: 
Enhancing Our Home Community

By Ryan Foy | August 13, 2016

Ambeck Mortgage Associates has provided people the opportunity to make Stanislaus County their home for more than 26 years. As a Modesto native, company President Patty Amador is proud of her home community and has found a way to say thank you.

“This is the community that has always been my home and has supported me in my business,” Amador said. “I am and will always be grateful for that support and to be in a position to donate funds, improve lives, and give back to this community.”

In 2003, Amador established the Ambeck Mortgage Scholarship Fund. Since then, she’s awarded more than $25,000 in scholarships to 36 students attending universities around the country, including Sacramento State, UC Berkeley and UCLA.

“By providing financial assistance to those who want to further their education we are ultimately enhancing life for all of us,” said Amador. “Assisting individuals to obtain higher education not only benefits the individual, but their community as well, by the contributions they make with their chosen careers.”

Because of Amador’s thoughtful giving, the Ambeck Mortgage Scholarship Fund will continue to support students and strengthen our community for years to come.