NCRF Gets Students Money, Grants, Resources
By Dianne Anderson
For as much as the National College Resources Foundation has grown over the decades, often drawing 20,000 or more Black students at a time to get what they need in one spot, somehow not everyone knows their name.
“We find that every day. People say, oh I wish I had known about you when my kids were about to go to college. We’ve been here for 22 years,” said Joan Scott, spokesperson for NCRF.
Under the umbrella of the foundation, most people may be familiar with their Black College Expo banner program, but they also help students in several other areas of need.
In Orange County, the nonprofit is now calling on all Black nonprofits and churches to team up to spread the word that students can get scholarships, internships, financial aid and mentors.
From elementary to high school, their program has expanded in recent times, now covering several critical thinking projects through their Think STEAM to increase Black students into STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math).
Their STEAM mobile unit visits schools, inspiring students in areas of hands-on problem solving, and offer an assortment of choices ranging from coding to higher-tiered science projects.
All of it is designed to get Black students excited again about their education, something that has taken a big hit through the pandemic with disparities in learning loss, particularly with Black male student enrollment.
“Over the last year and a half, it’s been difficult to work with the counselors and advisors, they may have 400 or more students under their roster. How can you really service that many students with resources?” she said.
Their program is standing in the gap.
Under the leadership of their founder Dr. Teresa Price, the foundation’s Black College Expo and Latino College Expo has helped over 500,000 students get into higher education and secure over $1 billion in grants and scholarships.
Mentoring and tutoring through programs also span over 70 schools in Los Angeles County, and include an athlete program designed with STEM and NCAA (Divisions I, II and III) programs in mind.
Students and parents are invited to connect with their organization. Naturally, she said everyone is worried about getting back to the classroom, but at the same time feel that the quality of education is not the same virtually as in person.
“Give us a call, we still answer their phone,” she said. “We’re not only working with the school district but with parents, helping allay fears, finding out true information as opposed to misconceptions and misinformation.”
Some old barriers were hard enough pre-COVID, but now the need for direct information, counseling, application help and access to money through the pandemic raises another level of difficulties.
Students are already drained from Zoom classrooms, and not exactly thrilled with Zooming in with their counselors. In the past, Scott said at least they had a brick and mortar school setting with counseling centers or personalized help in filling out financial or other applications. That process usually takes more than one sitting to get it completed.
“Many have fallen behind getting their applications in, filling out their FAFSA forms. A lot of these processes have fallen by the wayside,” she said.
But now is not the time to slack off. Recent reports show a dramatic drop in Black college enrollment during the pandemic. The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reports a 727,000 decline in undergraduate enrollment from a year ago.
Even in better pre-COVID-19 times, the center reports that underrepresented groups struggled to clear the transfer hurdle to higher learning.
“Virus resurgence in late 2020, coupled with its differential economic and health impacts on Black, Latinx, and Native American populations in the U.S. made navigating these transfer options even more difficult. The general dampening of student mobility during the pandemic that we first reported last fall appears to continue into this spring,” the NSCR report said.
In this past year through the crisis, Scott said their nonprofit foundation has reached out, helping Black students that would otherwise fall through the cracks. They have ramped up support with resources for college-level students who had difficulty with retention and were sent home at the start of the pandemic.
“Many of them that are homeless were foster care students, so where’s home? Home was their residence in college,” she said. “They were told, we’ve got to home we’re closing down the dorms [but] where do I go?” she said.
NCRF quickly stepped up to help students with housing with food, foster kids and unaccompanied youth who were depending on their college meal card for meals.
“We supply food as well as computers and hotspots, whatever was needed to keep that student in schools, whether high school or college,” she said. “We’ve kind of grown into full wraparound service, assisting students to reach their goals, to not let COVID stop them from getting to where they need to be.”
For more information on upcoming virtual events for money and information, see https://www.thecollegeexpo.org/ncrf-events/events