Andrea Zepeda is a first-generation college student. She says she had always wanted to go to college, but didn't know how to get there.
"I always had the intentions of going to school, but because my parents didn't go, there wasn't really a how-to guide," Zepeda said.
Zepeda was a junior in high school when she heard about College Forward, a free program to help economically-disadvantaged students get through college.
"Having a coach there, and a lot more one-on-one than I had with my high school coach, is really helpful," she said.
The program touches thousands of students.
AmeriCorps volunteers like Jessica Degrado help the young adults along the way.
"It's amazing being able to come to a job where you get to make a difference every day, and making a difference with the amazing students I get to work with, and getting to know them and helping them through college," Degrado said. "One of my goals here is to make the college experience for the students more exciting and a little easier than it was for me."
Now Vannesa Jimenez is giving back to the organization that once helped her.
"I've been in their shoes. I know what it feels like being confused, lost, not knowing where to go, and I want to be a helping hand," she said.
Seniors in the College Forward program received more than $3.8 million in grant money and scholarships in 2010. They’re always looking for donations and school supplies.
You can also help by providing the following:
• Volunteer professional graphic designers/web designers
• Volunteer photographers for special events
• Large storage containers/bins for organization purposes
• Recycling bins (any size, shape, color)
• Locking file cabinets
• High-quality computer mice
• 8-12 matching kitchen chairs