OCEANSIDE — A recent $20,000 donation by AT&T Aspire allows 50 Oceanside high school students to participate in the on-campus Transitional Youth Academy. The in-school academy held during classroom hours is a mentor program for students at risk of dropping out of school.
The academy is run by Interfaith Community Services. It provides one-on-one case management to ensure at-risk students improve and maintain their grades.
The program has been held at Oceanside High School and El Camino High School since 2008. A partnership with AT&T began when funds were most needed.
“The AT&T contribution allows the program to maintain the resources essential to providing robust services,” Vannessa Marshall, Transitional Youth Academy program manager, said.
Students in the program receive academic help, learn leadership development and hone workforce readiness skills. They also engage in field trips, community service and evening family events.
Over the summer students can elect to participate in internships and volunteer service work with the San Diego Humane Society, Tri-City Hospital and other community organizations through the program.
“TYA is one of the only in-school programs of its kind in North County,” Marshall said. “Staff are on-site at the high schools before school starts, during breaks and lunch and after school to provide meaningful mentoring in a school atmosphere.”
The academy has had a stellar rate of success.
“Since it began in 2008, TYA has served over 1,000 youth and boasts a near 100 percent graduation rate,” Marshall said.
Other positive outcomes from the program are students’ increased GPAs and higher college enrollment rates, especially for students who are the first in their families to attend college.
The program has proved to be a game changer for some.
This year three students in the program were chosen for the final round of the Abraham and Lillian Turk scholarship, which awards up to $10,000.
“These students are all children of immigrants whose parents did not receive an education,” Marshall said. “The program staff has very high hopes for these students and knows that they will succeed academically and personally.”
High school staff and administrators refer students to the program. Students can also self-select to be enrolled.
Currently there is a greater need for services than funds accommodate.
“There is a huge funding gap to fund this in-school model,” Marshall said.
Federal funds stopped in 2016 and were re-directed to out-of-school programs. Since then the academy has relied on private donations and foundation funding, which varies year to year.
An AT&T grant was awarded to Interfaith Community Services to expand in-school services at El Camino High School in 2014. A strong partnership between the donor and program has continued.
Interfaith Community Services provides a wide range of programs to empower the hungry, homeless and low-income to take steps toward self-sufficiency.