The Henrico organization helps low-income high school students attend college
GLEN ALLEN, Va. (WWBT) — For decades, a grassroots organization that paved the way for low-income high school students to enter and transition into college continues to make dreams come true. Still, he could use some extra support when it comes to donations like gift cards, laptops and other necessities for students heading off to college.
For nearly 30 years, Partnership for the Future (PFF) has been a guide and go-to resource for students who dream of going to college but don’t necessarily have the means.
Each spring semester, freshmen from 17 high schools in the Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield and Goochland school districts have the opportunity to apply to enter the program. Just over 100 have recently been accepted.
PFF President and CEO Dionne Henderson said 80-85% of seniors over 50 who go off to college will be the first in their families. For the first time since its inception nearly 30 years ago, there is at least one valedictorian from every school district served.
“Our program is year-round,” said Henderson, who explained the team’s long-term commitment to students. “We work with our students to make sure they maintain their grades and have the right course load to apply for their dream school.”
Once students are accepted into PFF, the opportunities are endless. From paid internships, workshops and university visits to having a final year mentor to help with university and scholarship applications, it has all been a game changer for PFF students like Srista Tripathi, who has just completed his freshman year at Princeton University.
The aspiring trauma surgeon is studying molecular biology and plans to do a double minor in South Asian Studies and Global Health. She plans to return home to serve her community. Tripathi is from Glen Allen and graduated from Henrico High School.
“There’s a huge disparity in health care, so I’ve always wanted to be part of that change,” Tripathi said.
For Tripathi, continuing his education with little or no debt has always been a dream. After losing his father a few years ago and choosing extra work to support his mother and two sisters, there were times when going to college just didn’t seem possible.
“Finances were a big concern for my family for a very long time, especially when my father passed away,” said Tripathi, who never felt compelled to work but wanted to do whatever she could to help her family. . “I worked part-time and gave some of the money to my family when it was needed.”
Tripathi’s life would finally change when she decided to apply for the PFF program. She said she benefited greatly from being matched with a mentor in her senior year to get through the application process. She said she applied to nearly two dozen schools and more than 40 scholarships. Now she’s at Princeton, one of her top three picks, on a full scholarship. Her mentor follows her.
“Whenever I felt uncertain, I was able to constantly speak to the staff at PFF and be reaffirmed that where I was was the place for me,” Tripathi said.
Not only do students get internships for the summer in high school, but the PFF matches up to $2,000 of their savings when they graduate. Plans are underway to launch a pilot program around internships for PFF college students. Up to $1,000 would be matched from their savings per summer.
While corporate donations, private donors and individual donations help support the programs financially, Henderson said additional resources such as gift cards to help students pay for housing needs and school supplies could do much.
“One of the things I’ve noticed is that we have a lot of bag drives because students go to elementary and middle school, but we don’t have anything for college students,” Henderson explained. “We also need laptops for existing students as some have virtual internships.”
“They really do a lot for you; it’s kind of immeasurable,” said Tripathi, who feels extremely grateful for PFF’s support.
PFF serves the following schools. The application process will reopen next spring.
If you wish to make a donation or contact the association, go to www.partnershipforthefuture.org
Richmond Public Schools:
- Franklin Military Academy
- George Wythe
- John Marshall
- Richmond Open Community
- Thomas Jefferson
- CodeRVA Regional High School
County of Henrico:
- Upland Springs
- J.R. Tucker
Goochland County Public Schools:
- Goochland County High School
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