By Dominic Garcia

DENVER (CBS4) – Applying for college can be a daunting task, but for students in Denver Public Schools there is a valuable resource to help them each step of the way.

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(credit: CBS)

The Denver Scholarship Foundation has been helping students for more than a decade. It aims to inspire them to apply to college and helps them through the process.

“I kind of had no clue what I was doing. It was really stressful at times,” said Jake Downing, a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School.

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CBS4’s Dominic Garcia interviews Jake Downing. (credit: CBS)

He says between the applications, essays and scholarship paperwork the whole process was overwhelming. He went to the future center at his high school for help.

“I was like ‘Hey, I need help. I need a checklist, what do I need to get done?’ From there I got everything sent in,” he told CBS4’s Dominic Garcia.

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The foundation operates Future Centers in 21 Denver high schools. Each is staffed by a Denver Scholarship Foundation college advisor who helps them plan and pay for college.

The Future Center college advisor is their main point of contact when applying to college. The Future Center also has information about application requirements, deadlines and financial aid.

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Renae Bellew (credit: CBS)

“We go and find them. We’ll go in the halls at lunch time and look for students and go into classrooms and work closely with counselors and staff to make sure all students know what their options are after high school,” said Renae Bellew, the Senior Director of Programs at the Denver Scholarship Foundation. “We engage all students especially those not identified as a college going student.”

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Jake Downing and Jehu Iyema. (credit: CBS)

Another Thomas Jefferson High School senior, Jehu Iyema, said the foundation played a key role in guiding her through the application process. She will be the first person in her family to go to college, a big honor for her parents.

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CBS4’s Dominic Garcia interviews Jehu Iyema. (credit: CBS)

“My parents are from Congo Kinshasa, and they came to America to see my sister and I get these opportunities,” she told CBS4’s Dominic Garcia.

Jehu has already started hearing back from schools and has been accepted into two.

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(credit: CBS)

“I opened it and it said congrats and I screamed and started crying because like… I got in somewhere.”

Since 2007 the Denver Scholarship Foundation has awarded over $36 million in scholarships.

Dominic Garcia anchors CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and reports for CBS4 News at 10 p.m. Connect with the Denver native on Twitter @cbs4dom & on Facebook.

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