Program gives black youth a viable path to college

LOS ANGELES – “I love you, dad.”

The words still bring tears to Elliott David’s eyes. The 64-year-old from Watts hears them over the phone every day from his 18-year-old twins Alexander and Matthew. The boys headed off to separate colleges recently.

“My babies have become men,” said Elliott, who credits College Bound, a nonprofit that helps African-American youth pursue a college degree, for making his sons’ dreams a reality.

Since Alexander and Matthew were fourth-graders, Elliott made sure they attended the Saturday morning College Bound programs. From STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education to SAT preparation courses and parenting seminars, the nonprofit helped ensure his kids’ successful pathway to college.

Today, Matthew attends Sacramento State and is majoring in government affairs. Alexander is a freshman at Lincoln University in Missouri, studying business with a minor in music.

“[College Bound] was eye-opening and life-changing,” said Alexander, who recalls at first grumbling about waking up early on Saturday mornings as a fourth-grader. “It helped me become academically successful. It’s the best investment a parent and child can make.”

Since 1991, College Bound has helped more than 750 underserved students in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and Ventura attend and graduate from four-year colleges.

The nonprofit continues to depend on donations from corporations like Edison International. Last year, Edison International provided a $50,000 grant for College Bound’s STEM Enrichment Academy, a program that focuses on college readiness and parental involvement.

“As an energy company, we recognize the skills needed for our future workforce and to help advance our country,” said Tammy Tumbling, director of Philanthropy & Community Investment for Southern California Edison.

“As a result, we focus our educational funding on preparing students to excel in the areas of STEM and to promote the inclusion of minority, low-income and underrepresented students in these academic fields.”

Dr. Kirk Kirkwood, vice president of educational services for College Bound, said businesses understand that investing in youth today is an investment in the company’s future tomorrow. “Corporations have a vested interest in supporting the next generation of workers so they have a viable future,” he said. “

Kirkwood is a successful graduate of the nonprofit he now helps to oversee. As a senior attending Morningside High School in Inglewood in 1991, Kirkwood had the desire to attend college, but his grades and know-how to make it happen just weren’t there.

It was a neighbor who first introduced him and his parents to College Bound. Now, about 24 years later, Kirkwood, 40, has a master’s and doctorate in education and he credits the nonprofit for his success.

“In my students, I see myself,” he said. “It’s the reason why I’m here. I’ve come full circle.”

This past Christmas, Alexander and Matthew returned home for the first time since leaving for college in August. Elliott can already see the positive growth in them.

“I would tell any parent about [College Bound],” said Elliott. “It’s really a shame that so many people can and don’t take advantage of this program.”

For more information about College Bound, visit (story courtesy of Southern California Edison).



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