(Jan 11, 2022)
Jessica Valdez (C5LA Program Director) & Miguel presented by Zoom.
C5LA (“College in 5 years”, LA) was founded in 1999 by John Alm, former CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises (a major Coca-Cola distributor). Seeing the impact of summer camp on his own children by helping them develop personal skills, confidence, and improved self-esteem, he & his wife determined to extend these benefits to deserving children whose families could not afford these experiences. C5LA has grown from a 4-week summer camp to a year-round 5-year Leadership Development and College Preparatory Program, and inspired others to expand C5 to 4 other US cities.
The public education system cannot address what is happening outside of the classroom, for the many young people who fail to graduate and become productive citizens. Too many of our youth are adversely impacted by everything that is missing from their lives, growing up in environments with limited support and few opportunities, unable to develop a positive vision for their future. A child raised in neglect or extreme adversity carries a lifelong risk of chronic illness and mental health struggles.
C5LA is dedicated to promoting generational transformations to build stronger communities. The C5 philosophy includes:
  • Building strong relationships between youth and adults, promoting confidence of support;
  • Introducing the concept of college as a realistic goal, and how to achieve it;
  • Introducing new activities, ideas and concepts, expanding their horizons;
  • Engaging them in community service, showing them how they can make a difference;
  • Leading them to career opportunities through job shadowing and career exploration.
C5LA recruits 8th graders from 25 Middle School partners in the LA area, who show high potential and 3.0 GPA, but are under-resourced and potential 1st-generation college students, who can adjust to camp & being away from home, and are not distracted by other interests. Teachers nominate 8th grade students in October, who then complete their application forms. C5LA holds student/parent informational meetings. Then, selected students are interviewed, and acceptances are sent in April. Its mission is to inspire high-potential under-resourced teens to pursue personal success and prepare for leadership roles in school, college, work and their communities.
The program is year-around, with 5 summer experiences: Leadership Camp before 9th grade, backpacking before 10th, tour of colleges before 11th, week-long college stay before 12th, and 4-day “college boot camp” before starting college. There are ~72 students each year, with case management at each stage, college application coach, and scholarship funds to help with education expenses. The program is now extended through college to support graduation & career mentorship.
For information, donations, and volunteer opportunities (such as career mentors), contact miguel@c5la.org, or at 3100 N Broadway in Los Angeles, (323) 686-4214, https://www.c5la.org/.