DENVER (CBS4) – The Denver Scholarship Foundation has moved its staff and resources online because of the COVID-19 pandemic to assist students on track to be the first in their families to graduate high school and attend college. Students say the coronavirus outbreak has made graduating more of a challenge but they are still optimistic for their future.
“Being a first generation student in itself without this whole coronavirus situation is a big obstacle,” Annette Leyva told CBS4 on Monday.
The Northfield High School senior has worked with the Denver Scholarship Foundation to navigate the historic role she will play in her own family. She says losing the access to staff in person has been an adjustment. Her high school is one of 14 in Denver Public Schools with a Future Center.
“It is definitely a transition to not have that physical space where I can know I can talk to someone at the Future Center but they still have made it clear that they are available to us in many different way virtually,” Leyva said.
DPS returned from an extended spring break this week and students like Leyva will begin online classes Tuesday. Denver Scholarship Foundation went virtual on March 16. Even without the ability to meet with students in person, the need of their students has only increased. Not only are their students often first in their families to graduate from high school and college, their loved ones are likely more proportionately affected by the economic situation created by COVID-19.
“What we’ve done is really take those conversations virtual,” said Lorii Rabinowitz, CEO of the organization. “We traditionally have students come into the physical Future Center, we have taken the Future Center on the road.”
Levyva is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme student who is currently her school’s salutatorian. She says it has been difficult at times to stay motivated when you do not know what the future looks like for graduates. She also wonders what her commencement will look like, a special moment the whole family has looked forward to all year.
“These circumstances are really hard and it has been hard on me to know that I may not get the graduation I was looking forward to,” she said.
DSF is tracking the performance of all their students but does not have the data yet on the impact from the coronavirus. While they know the need of these scholars has only gone up when it comes to support and resources, Rabinowitz says their ability to stay on track remains strong.
“We believe that they can cross that finish line and we believe that their futures will be even brighter than they originally thought,” she said.
Completing the IB Diploma will be different this year since testing is cancelled. Leyva knows it will be weighed more on coursework. But even before high school is over, she found out which colleges accepted her two weeks ago. She has already decided to attend Colorado College in the fall.
“I’m really looking forward to what the future holds,” Leyva said.