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San Diego Organization To Help More First-In-Family College Students

Aired 1/12/12 on KPBS News.

An organization focused on helping disadvantaged high school students become the first in their families to go to college is planning to expand.

— Mayoral candidates San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio and Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher joined city schools Superintendent Bill Kowba in applauding the planned expansion of Reality Changers at the organization's annual "State of the Inner City Address." The event always preceeds the mayor's State of the City Address.

Reality Changers President Christopher Yanov said with gang membership on the rise nationally the organization’s efforts to build the ranks of first-in-their-family college students from San Diego County as more important that ever. The organization will provide its free programs to 10 more county high schools next year.

Those programs include test prep and help with the college application process. Otay Ranch Senior Jocelyn Carranza said it has made all the difference for her. She just finished 16 college applications and thinks she might not have made it through one on her own.

“I think it would be really hard. A lot of my friends who aren’t in Reality Changers they found it really difficult, especially with the UC application with the prompt and everything," she said. "They helped me out so much in writing it and making it as good as I can, I guess.”

The application for schools to become one of the new sites will be open on the Reality Changers website through February. Kowba encouraged schools to apply.

Fletcher said he would focus on partnering with and supporting city schools as mayor. He said his campaign will release his plan for how to do that in the coming weeks.

DeMaio touted his proposed Hire-A-Youth program but said the mayor should focus on cleaning up the city's financial house before telling other government agencies how to do their business.

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