Centers aim to steer students on right path

SATURDAY, MAY 14, 2011

Program will stress career, college skills

Glover Middle School student William Fausett already has figured out how he’ll pay for college, manage a budget and make sensible purchases.

He learned his lessons in the Comcast College and Career Center recently established in his Spokane school.

The program, which officially launches Tuesday, gives seventh- and eighth-graders the opportunity to get a jump-start on college scholarships, learn the importance of money management and navigate the right path to a chosen career.

The centers “help kids take better control of their life,” said Ben Stuckart, executive director of Communities in Schools, a business-funded nonprofit that partnered with Comcast to create the centers at Glover and Chase middle schools. “We are constantly trying to empower kids.”

The centers aim to help low-income middle school students stay in school, Stuckart said.

“There’s a program that teaches how much you can spend, and how much you can save,” said Moises Ojeda, 14. “I really want to go to college to be a cartoonist, or something. I want to get big money so I can save money.”

Three computers are set up in each of the middle schools that offer access to specific websites that feature information about financial aid, college requirements, scholarships and financial literacy.

“Research shows if you teach financial literacy early, it prevents problems in the future,” Stuckart said. “Sometimes we tie this with students who have college goals, especially first-generation students.”

All low-income eighth-grade students in the program sign up for the Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board’s scholarship, College-Bound. It offers tuition at a four-year public university plus cash for books and fees.

Fausett said he qualifies for four years of tuition.

Students in the program promise to graduate from high school, stay out of trouble with the law, keep their grades up and seek admission to a college or university.

Said Fausett: “That should be easy for me.”

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