On Jan. 17 Travis Credit Union (TCU), Vacaville, Calif. held the 14th annual Financial Education Forum at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California. The forum provided youth who have experienced financial barriers to postsecondary education with information on financial aid.
TCU hosted the event in partnership with the Contra Costa County Office of Education, California Student Aid Commission, and Diablo Valley College. This year, nearly 250 foster and homeless students from 9 local high schools in Contra Costa County attended.
During the forum, students learned of financial aid opportunities from financial leaders and college financing experts. Seniors also completed a Cash for College workshop as part of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Foster Youth Challenge. Last year, the California Student Aid Commission reported that only 53 percent of California’s public high school seniors completed a FAFSA or Dream Act application.
TCU has hosted the Financial Education Forum annually since 2006 to increase student awareness of available state and federal aid. The event exemplifies TCU’s commitment to making authentic community impact and reflects the credit union’s motivational “Awesome Cause” of providing financial education, financial literacy and financial advocacy to all those it serves.
“Our Awesome Cause is at the heart of the credit union’s business model,” said Barry Nelson, president/CEO of Travis Credit Union. “Postsecondary education and programs along with financial capability is an effective way to help youth, no matter their circumstances, avoid common financial vulnerabilities and build economic stability not only for these young people but for the communities they reside.”
This year’s event featured a motivational keynote speaker, Daniel Mora. Mora, who grew up in the Bay Area, joined a gang and eventually landed in a juvenile detention facility before turning his life around. Mora graduated from UC Berkeley in 2009 and now devotes his time to working with at-risk youth.
Other speakers included Contra Costa Superintendent Lynn Mackey; Bryan Sapp of the California Student Aid Commission; Susan Lamb, President, Diablo Valley College; and Nicholas Diaz-Galarza of the Diablo Valley College Financial Aid Office. The forum closed with workshops and tours of Diablo Valley College and a raffle for two Chromebooks to youth in attendance.
“Our agency is proud to co-host this worthwhile event,” said Lynn Mackey, Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools. “The Forum will provide vulnerable students in our county with some very valuable financial information and tips as they look toward higher education opportunities and begin planning for their future.”
“It’s so important that this event is targeting a population that is often overlooked,” said Ramona MacIntyre, president and CEO of the Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce, “This forum is all about empowering and guiding under-served youth to pursue higher education and eventually, financial independence. The program today is providing valuable resources and tours, and my hope is that these students leave with more hope and aspirations for the future.”
Since its inception, the Financial Education Forum has provided TCU and local high schools a community partnership opportunity to increase student awareness of financial aid options for secondary education. The forum is provided at no cost to participating schools, including bus transportation and lunches for attendees. By demystifying the financial aid process, the event seeks to encourage students who typically may not attend a higher education institution or program because of financial constraints to do so.