Eighteen years ago, Elizabeth Daskarolis “adopted” a class of kindergarten students in honor of her husband, lifelong public school educator George Peter Daskarolis. George, himself the son of Greek immigrants, passionately believed that education is the path to equality, so establishing the George Daskarolis Foundation (GDF) to continue encouraging educational achievement in his name was fitting. Inspired by Oral Lee Brown, Elizabeth mentored the students, read with them, provided exposure to resources and opportunities, and worked with family and friends to raise money for the students’ college expenses. In 2015, as the students were entering their senior year of high school, the GDF partnered with East Bay College Fund to provide much more support for the students than the GDF alone was able to offer. The East Bay College Fund is also dispensing the scholarships funded by the GDF to the GDF scholars, all of whom are Latino and most of whom are the first in their families to attend college.
Photos care of East Bay College Fund
In 2018, 90% of East Bay College Fund's scholarship recipients were first-generation students, and 99% of them were students of color. “The East Bay College Fund is an extraordinary organization committed to offering college scholarships to hundreds of Oakland students each year,” Elizabeth shares. “So far, they have granted more than $14 million in scholarships to more than 1,500 students, in addition to offering enrichment services such as mentorship, campus support groups, retreats, and persistence services throughout the students’ college years. I see them as a model for cities throughout the U.S.” And she’s right: cities throughout the nation could stand to learn from the East Bay College Fund's example. While only 16% of students from low-income communities nationwide graduate from college, 91% of East Bay College Fund scholars' graduation rate is 75% higher than the national average for students in the same demographic - that's more than three times the rate of the national average! Why does this matter? Because on average, college graduates earn a full one million dollars more over the course of their lifetimes than those who do not earn college degrees, and the children of college graduates are three times more likely to attend college than those whose parents did not attend college. The East Bay College Fund is effectively breaking generational cycles of poverty and presenting students and their families with a whole new future of possibilities. “We are up to big things in Oakland!” Elizabeth gushes. “There is no cause greater than the education of our young people, and East Bay College Fund is digging in to make a huge difference in our city -- I am so very proud of this organization!”
Photos care of East Bay College Fund
Though East Bay College Fund now runs point on supporting the GDF scholars’ academic achievement, Elizabeth continues to serve as a mentor, is still involved with the students she loves so dearly, and urges others to climb aboard the East Bay College Fund train. “I encourage others to get involved,” she says, “because as East Bay College Fund expands exponentially each year, not only is more and more money needed to fund scholarships but additional mentors are also needed each year -- community volunteers who love and support young people are critical.” In an effort to help East Bay College Fund increase awareness and raise funds, Elizabeth became a PLAE-It-Forward ambassador and you can, too. Simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started. And in the meantime, support Oakland-grown scholars right now by using checkout code GIVE969 to donate 10% to East Bay College Fund. You can also find East Bay College Fund on Facebook and Instagram.