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Orange County Boys & Girls Club receives $1.5-million grant for College Bound program

College Bound academic advisors meet with program members.
College Bound academic advisors meet with program members to provide academic case management through which students receive the individualized guidance and support to create a customized plan for their futures with the Boys & Girls Club of Central Orange Coast.
(Courtesy of Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Orange Coast)

Students who are members of the Boys & Girls Club of Central Orange Coast can get closer to a college career thanks in large part to a $1.5-million grant from the Pacific Life Foundation in support of the club’s College Bound program.

“We are thrilled to be able to expand College Bound’s reach and impact with this grant,” said Robert Santana, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Orange Coast. “No matter what background, socioeconomic status or obstacle, every student we serve deserves a first-class mentoring experience and the empowerment to graduate from high school with a plan for the future.”

The grant is the largest non-capital campaign gift the Boys & Girls Club of Central Orange Coast, which serves Costa Mesa, Irvine, Newport Beach, Orange and Santa Ana, has ever received.

The investment is part of a five-year partnership between the club and Pacific Life Foundation, which was established in 1984 by Pacific Life Insurance Co. and its affiliates. The funds will be used to scale the College Bound program from its current enrollment of 2,500 students to 4,450 students in the Newport-Mesa, Orange and Santa Ana unified school districts.

The goal is to make sure more teens graduate high school on time and with a financially sustainable plan for higher education. More specifically, $1 million will be allocated to growing the program, and $500,000 will go to supporting the College Bound Scholarship Fund which provides scholarships to students in the program as they move on to post-secondary education.

Boys & Girls Club College Bound member and senior Evangelina Ocampo and CEO Robert Santana.
At the 2021 Boys & Girls Club’s BE GREAT Gala, College Bound member and senior high school student Evangelina Ocampo received a scholarship for her higher education goals. Pictured with Evangelina is Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Orange Coast CEO Robert Santana.
(Courtesy of Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Orange Coast)

The program primarily targets at-risk Orange County youth, who are vulnerable to higher dropout rates and lack equitable access to resources. About 90% of College Bound students identify as Latino and are first-generation students.

A statement from the Boys & Girls Club pointed out that despite Orange County’s high concentration of wealth, the annual, per-pupil education spending is significantly lower than state and national averages.

“The College Bound program addresses a critical need in our community. The Pacific Life Foundation’s investment will help expand the program, providing equitable access to resources for students as they complete high school and move on to college,” said Tennyson Oyler, president of the Pacific Life Foundation.

Besides services for the students, the College Bound program includes workshops and support for parents that address challenges students might face, since many may be the first in their families to pursue higher education.

This partnership with Pacific Life represents the first lead gift toward the Boys & Girls Club’s five-year plan to expand services to more students in the cities they serve. The partnership will also make it possible for Pacific Life employees to volunteer with the club and take mentorship roles in its programs by reviewing students’ scholarship applications, participating in college and career panels and mentor days, helping with workforce development and other community engagement opportunities.

“We’re proud to partner with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Orange Coast to help make an impact in these students’ lives, and for Pacific Life employees to have the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way through volunteer and mentorship opportunities,” said Oyler.

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