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January 9, 2014

Host: José Cárdenas

AZ Earn to Learn

  |   Video
  • AZ Earn to Learn is a program that prepares high school students for college with financial education and matching funds. The program was created by the non-profit organization, Live the Solution, and Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona. Executive Director for Live the Solution Kate Hoffman and Associate Vice President of ASU Educational Outreach and Student Services Beatriz Rendón discuss the program.
  • Kate Hoffman - Executive Director, Live the Solution
  • Beatriz Rendón - Associate Vice President, ASU Educational Outreach and Student Services
Category: Education   |   Keywords: education, ASU, NAU, UA, outreach, students,

View Transcript
José Cárdenas: Thank you for joining us. Arizona "earn to learn" is a groundbreaking program that prepares high school students for college with financial education and matching funds. It was created by the nonprofit organization Live the Solution and Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona. Joining me to talk about this Beatriz Rendón, Associate Vice President of Educational Outreach and Student Services at ASU and Kate Hoffman, executive director for Live the Solution. Tell us about Live the Solution. How it came to be in existence.

Kate Hoffman: A handful of years ago I attended a meeting where the director of Habitat for Humanity was talking about the need level in Tucson as it related to home ownership and I asked the director how many folks were applying to Habitat, and the number of folks applying to habitat far exceeded the number of homes they were building in Tucson at that time. I asked myself, where are these families going to get access to resources in the community? I started to research what was available in the nonprofit community and I came across the match savings account model, which is the basis of the AZ Earn to Learn program.
José Cárdenas: And your background is in financial planning?
Kate Hoffman: Correct. My background was a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch for a number of years. I felt through this process and working through nonprofit, when you have access to wealth you can go into places like Merrill Lynch and get access to the best advice. Where would you go if you did not have that wealth?

José Cárdenas: How did that expand into a program providing scholarships?

Kate Hoffman: I learned an about a program through the department of Health and Human Services, Assets for Independents, which is a federally funded program that will match a local pool of funding and create this match savings account opportunity for participants. So, knowing that this program was available for students who wanted to -- or excuse me, for participants who wanted to either purchase a home or pursue post-secondary education, or start a small business, it was an opportunity to create a scholarship program here in Arizona.

José Cárdenas: Beatriz, let me just ask, while the program was available for higher education, the Arizona universities were the first ones to actually take advantage of it, is that right?

Beatriz Rendón: That's correct. Never before our three state universities have there been a higher ed institution applying for this particular resource of funding through this particular division with the federal government.

José Cárdenas: How did you two get hooked up?

Beatriz Rendón: I used to be on Kate's board at Live the Solution, and she brought the opportunity to our attention, not soon after I started there at ASU. We had a really quick turn-around time, but we maximized the opportunity to apply for these funds and in fact, we were awarded our first round of funding and then subsequently a second year of funding, so in total $2.5 million that are a result of the federal matchm as well as ASU's match towards the scholarship pool.

José Cárdenas: Now, there are two sets of matches. Beatriz just described one, the university putting up money being matched by the federal government. What about the students and families who participate? How does that work?

Kate Hoffman: When a student expresses interest, they come to our web site, AZearntolearn.org, and they fill out a participant a survey letting us know that they are interested in moving forward with the program. We have the students go through a financial education curriculum as a prerequisite to applying for the program. Once they complete that step, they are provided the application for the program --

José Cárdenas: What does the curriculum consist of? What do they have to do?

Kate Hoffman: It’s basic financial education curriculum, involving budgeting and discussion about credit and other aspects of the financial picture for the entire household --

José Cárdenas: Is the student alone or the student and their family, who actually does the survey?

Kate Hoffman: We encourage the student and their families to come to the program together. And participate in all aspects of the program. As part of the guidelines for the federal program, we have to income qualify the household to make sure that they're eligible to participate in the program. We need to be working closely with whoever is in the household with the student.

José Cárdenas: And they submit the survey and is it your group who makes the decision who will be able to participate?

Kate Hoffman: As long as they go through each step of the program they are able to keep moving forward, predicated on the available funding and the number of scholarships opportunities that are available at the university. We are working in partnership with all three universities, total funding right now is nearly $7 million in total funding. That allows us the opportunity to help over 1,500 students across the state of Arizona. Going back to the question that you asked, the program is structured in such a way that the students open up a savings account at one of our partner financial institutions, and then over a minimum of six consecutive months, they save $500, and it is predicated on when they're going to enter school in terms of how much money they need to deposit --

José Cárdenas: We're talking high school students.

Kate Hoffman: Correct. We're enrolling students as young as sophomores and juniors in the program, which means they have that much more time to save. For every dollar that they put in that account, the universities are giving them $8 to go towards offsetting tuition and approved education related expenses.

José Cárdenas: As I understand, it is up to a maximum of $500 from the student and matched by maximum of $4,000, from the university.

Beatriz Rendón: That's correct. University gives the students $4,000, if they save $500. The student can reapply every year for another round of funding. Annually, so long as there is available funding and we continue to get additional funding, we -- and the slots remain, the student can receive multiple years of consecutive funding if they do their part and the funding is available.

José Cárdenas: What about taking courses? They have to apply to get into one of the universities, is that right? Not necessarily as a full-time student but they have to be taking courses before they can use the money.

Beatriz Rendón: The money is intended to be used towards courses for credit. This is the only scholarship opportunity however where students can actually use the scholarship money to take courses while they're in high school. A course at ASU for credit, as a nondegree seeking student and use these funding resources to pay for it. Every other scholarship that we provide to students, they have to wait until they're full-time enrolled freshmen --

José Cárdenas: Could they do that with this? Could they bank the money --

Beatriz Rendón: Yes.

José Cárdenas: Sophomore by the time --

Beatriz Rendón: Absolutely.

José Cárdenas: They are also eligible for any other financial aid and scholarships that are offered?

Beatriz Rendón: That's exactly right. This is one of many resources. It is need based. There is only an income eligibility criteria, and of course, you have to comply with doing your part to attend the financial literacy workshops with your parent and then save the money. $500 for $4,000, that is a pretty good deal.

José Cárdenas: As I understand, the program, you have gone through two rounds now.

Kate Hoffman: That's correct. We launched in January of 2013 and enrolled our first cohort, which was approximately 70 students across the state at all three universities. They started school this September. And of that group of students that just started, 70% of those students were first generation students. We were really excited to see that play out for those students. And the other piece that I wanted to add to the steps of the program, once they're in that savings period, they actually work with a financial coach so that the students and their families are getting one on one financial coaching through the savings period and ideally if they're able to participate in the program their freshman and sophomore and junior and senior year, we have an opportunity to really have an impact overall on that student's financial skills and knowledge.

José Cárdenas: Beatriz, we're almost out of time. What kind of outreach is done to make people aware of this? Where would somebody go to get information about the program?

Beatriz Rendón: Well, we have a web site through our access ASU online portal, but in addition to that, there is also an AZearntolearn web site and I believe -- hopefully that is shown on the screen as we speak. In addition to that, we have relationships with the five largest school districts in the city, Phoenix union, Tolleson, Glendale, Mesa, Tempe, and we have targeted schools and the district that we work with. If they were to go with the school and inquire about that we have relationships with all those districs.

José Cárdenas: You have been able to get the word out.

Beatriz Rendón: Absolutely. Currently we have a thousand students locally participating filling out and completing the surveys.

José Cárdenas: Thank you for joining us on "Horizonte" to talk about this great program. Much appreciated.


  |   Video
  • Three Arizona State University students are proposing to convert old food trucks into new age mobile libraries for low income schools and communities lacking basic library resources. Assistant Principal for NFL YET Academy Adam Sharp and Elijah Allan, one of the ASU students proposing the BiblioTrucka concept join Horizonte to discuss the project.
  • Adam Sharp - Assistant Principal, NFL YET Academy
  • Elijah Allan - Student
Category: Education   |   Keywords: education, communities, asu, school, food trucks, mobile, libraries,

View Transcript
José Cárdenas: The Arizona state university students proposing to convert old food trucks into book mobiles for low-income and communities lacking basic resources. We will talk about this in a moment. First a sample of how their idea started.

Alex Miller: Schools across the valley, that had a major issue in the classrooms or schoolwide, applied to the teacher of America ASU partnership class. We got to meet our mentor from NFL Yet Academy and get to work on their library access issue.

Adam Sharp: The NFL leaves a legacy grant every time they have a Super Bowl in a different city. Every NFL Yet has to generate its own funds to stay operational. The challenge is once the NFL leaves, how do you continue funding your building?

Elijah Allan: It’s rather unfortunate that a school down here in Phoenix didn't have a library for their students. BiblioTrucka, we want it to be a new-age global library, that is cost effective, and something that would help not only the community, but also schools, especially charter schools. We want ot use it on a food truck platform, something that is obviously not too expensive, redesigned to where it fits our -- our idea.

Jasmine Clarke-Telfer: The great thing about BiblioTrucka is it can be customized to fit anyone's needs. Here we know we have a large Hispanic population, so we can fill it with books that speak to that population. If we were going to go to the Navajo nation, we can fill it with books that speak to their cultural ties. We’re hoping that since it is so easily customizable that it can be spread across.

José Cárdenas: Joining me now is Adam Sharp, assistant principal for the NFL Yet Academy. And Elijah Alan, ASU student and BiblioTrucka cofounder. Thank you for joining us.

Adam Sharp: Thank you.

José Cárdenas: Before we talk about the project itself. Adam tell me about the NFL Yet center.

Adam Sharp: NFL Yet -- founded in 1995, NFL joined the spirit two in Super Bowl 30. We are an A-rated school by the department of education currently and serve kids pre-K through 12th grade with an enrollment of approximately 800 to 850 students.

José Cárdenas: So, you're A-rated but made that accomplishment without having a library?

Adam Sharp: Two years in a row we have made that accomplishment without having a library.

José Cárdenas: As I understand it, one of the things that you all did to try to deal with that was you submitted an application or some kind of response to the ASU students who were --

Adam Sharp: Correct.

José Cárdenas: Coming out with this proposal. Tell us a bit about that.

Adam Sharp: TFA, teach for America, ASU had an initiative grant that students were looking to fulfill a need in various communities. NFL yet had the void of a library on campus, and applied for assistance in creating a library. And the ASU students with their innovative idea came up with the mobile library that could serve not just us but other schools around us in our community.

José Cárdenas: Elijah, you are one of the ASU students that Adam is referring to and two of your fellow students came up with the idea to do something.

Elijah Allan: Uh-hmm.

José Cárdenas: But not necessarily, you were not necessarily looking for a mobile food truck to convert into a library. Tell us the process by which you came about to A, having something that would be a benefit to schools in need and the selection of the NFL Yet center?

Elijah Allan: We went over like brainstorm, got together, you know, like, went over what kind of idea --

José Cárdenas: Tell me what the program is that your involved in--

Elijah Allan: The class is ASU Changemaking Education -- it's an affiliated with -- it is affiliated with the innovation challenge program that ASU has. So, excuse me -- we basically we got together, brainstormed, came up with just different ideas on how to get a library for the school. And so through that process, we ended up --

José Cárdenas: There were other proposals that were submitted to you, right? And this is the one that you liked and decided --

Elijah Allan: Yeah, yeah, me and my partners we decided this was the school that we wanted to help the most. Their challenge was something that we wanted to help out with, too. And so, during the beginning of the class, we basically brainstormed different ideas of how to come up with the library. One of the idea was a mobile library. I know the school had mentioned getting a cart system, and putting that -- driving that around to different classrooms, and then there was another school that talked about having bags -- different stuff in there and that would be the mobile library, we ended up deciding -- we came across the idea, outfit a truck and customize that and use that as the mobile library and that way we could help out other charter schools, too. We ended up finding out through our research that there are a lot of charter schools that operate without type of primary library resource. And based on that, we thought this would be a good idea to help out a lot of charter schools, too.

José Cárdenas: When the students said here is our proposal, what was your reaction?

Adam Sharp: I was ecstatic. I was thinking the food truck industry--

José Cárdenas: You were not thinking of a food truck when you submitted the application --

Adam Sharp: We were considering computerized carts with E-books or books to move around to the classrooms. With the food truck, a lot more books. Very mobile. It can go to many different schools and with the food truck movement feeding hungry people and tying that in with books, you can help feed the brain and teach kids how to read --
José Cárdenas: So a thematic tie in as well.
Adam Sharp: Correct.
José Cárdenas: So Elijah, what is the status right now of the proposal? You came up with the idea. You worked with Adam and his people to refine it. Where is it right now?
Adam Sharp: Right now, we went ahead. We applied for the innovation challenge, and they just got back to us saying we passed the first round to be able to possibly get selected to do. We also applied to the clean global initiative university. So I think within a couple of months we should hear back from innovation challenge to be able to do a fast pitch to the committee and off of that we will be able to -- if we do get selected, we will possibly win up to $10,000, which we're really hoping that we will be able to win because we really want to get this mobile library started out for the school.

José Cárdenas: And then the Clinton initiative, what would that mean to the program if you were selected?

Elijah Allan: For that one, if we get selected, we would be able to participate in the actual global initiative, like university event, which is held over in Washington, D.C. And if we get selected, we will be able to go to Washington, D.C., present our plan and idea to people there who also could be possible funders for us, too, to be able to make this mobile library actual physical form.

José Cárdenas: It could be really big. I want to come back to the potential of it. But before we do that, Adam, your school serves a particular population and there is a particular need for this kind of service.

Adam Sharp: Correct. We're 100% title one. So low and reduced lunch, 100% of our students. You know, with Arizona's reading rate, third grade, ELL, English language learner population in Arizona, only 44% pass their AIMS reading, compared to all students in Arizona, 77% pass. Our population of high ELL students and low socionomic students, we have to push reading. A lot of the kindergartners come in with zero English and they have to be proficient in three years.

José Cárdenas: So how do you envision the book mobile working? The truck comes and park on the lot and kids can go in and out, or what? --

Adam Sharp: Kids can go in and out and check out books. And we talked about having a vast number of books in a storage facility to swap out the books.

José Cárdenas: We are almost out of time. In terms of other possible opportunities, I understand you are thinking that you might have trucks going to charter schools and to other places where they don't have libraries.

Elijah Allan: We definitely want to be able to further expand our idea. With this first one, we are hoping we can serve four other charter schools and if we can get more other mobile libraries, select different communities -- one place I would like to take it is back to my home community, the Navajo nations.

José Cárdenas: How would you do this? I take it if you get enough money, you're talking not just one truck but several?

Elijah Allan: Yeah, we definitely want to be able to get as many trucks as we can. We have outreach from people from San Antonio, Texas.

José Cárdenas: How is word spreading about the proposal?

Elijah Allan: A lot through the media, ASU, Judy Crawford, reporter there has been helpful for us. And other than that, like just been spreading through word of mouth and mainly the media story that she ran.

José Cárdenas: So there is a lot of potential for this program to not just help kids here, but across the state and even across the country.

Elijah Allan: And cities with low literate cities, that’d be another target area we're looking at.

José Cárdenas: Best of luck to you and to you. Potentially the first recipient and thank you both for joining us on "Horizonte" to talk about it.

José Cárdenas: That is our show for tonight. For all of us here at eight and "Horizonte," I'm José Cárdenas, have a good night.

Miss Arizona Latina

  |   Video
  • The Miss Arizona Latina pageant competition celebrates Latina beauty and culture in both the state and the nation. Brenda Soto, winner of the 2013 Miss Arizona Latina talks about the Miss Arizona Latina organization and competition.
  • Brenda Soto - Miss Arizona Latina 2013
Category: Community   |   Keywords: pageant, arizona, competition, organization,

View Transcript
José Cárdenas: The Miss Arizona Latina pageant competition celebrates Latina beauty and culture in the state and the nation. Brenda Soto won the crown in 2013. She is a civil engineering student at the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering at ASU. Here is Brenda Soto, Miss Arizona Latina for 2013. First, congratulations on your achievements.

Brenda Soto: Thank you.

José Cárdenas: It is a great accomplishment. Tell us a little bit about your personal background and then we will talk more about the pageant itself.

Brenda Soto: Well, I was born and raised in Mexico, until the age of nine. That was when my parents decided to migrate to the U.S. in search of a better life and a better future in school for us, me and my brothers. Right now we are living in Tempe.

José Cárdenas: And you’re a senior at ASU.

Brenda Soto: Yes, I am.

José Cárdenas: And your brother is also a student as ASU.

Brenda Soto: Yes. He is a sophomore, he’s doing business. And I am a senior, studying civil engineering.

José Cárdenas: How did you come to be involved in the beauty pageant? Was this your first one?

Brenda Soto: Yes, this was the first beauty pageant. I was nominated. I decided to go seek more information on what it was, the requirements. I decided to join and take a chance.

José Cárdenas: And what was it about the pageant or whatever you were told about it that made you decide that this is something that you wanted to do?

Brenda Soto: I never have been in a pageant before, and I thought being involved in a pageant would help me grow personally, and be more open individual, so joining the Miss Arizona Latina pageant has really helped me accomplish that.

José Cárdenas: As I understand, there are several weeks of preparation that you go through. Tell us about that.

Brenda Soto: There are about two months of preparation, and in those two months, there are many classes for etiquette classes, fitness, and as well as classes which are preparing us for the big day, which was this past June 2nd.

José Cárdenas: The big day consists of what? I assume various elements of the competition. What was that like?

Brenda Soto: On June 2nd, we started the competition with an interview with six judges. All of the girls were individual interviews. So that was part of the preliminary stage. The other part of the stage of the competition was a swimwear competition, evening gown and the final was a final question.

José Cárdenas: How many people in the competition?

Brenda Soto: A total of 32 other girls.

José Cárdenas: So, you said the final part of the competition was the individual question. What was the question you were asked and how did you answer it?

Brenda Soto: Okay. My question was, what has been your biggest challenge in life? And my answer was my biggest challenge has been to develop myself both personally and professionally without forgetting my ethnic background.

José Cárdenas: Now, what does that mean to you when you say without forgetting your ethnic background? How have you made that part of your life?

Brenda Soto: This is a Latina pageant. So, the ethnicity is very important and becoming someone in a country that is not your own is very important. And I believe that carrying on your roots and not forgetting where you come from is really the main point and very important to not forget.

José Cárdenas: As Miss Arizona Latina, what kinds of duties and obligations have you had?

Brenda Soto: I have been part of several community service events, as well as speak different events. And I've -- we have helped children in need by fundraisers and things like that.

José Cárdenas: And when we talked off screen about this event and what it meant to you, you said it was important to you that part of what they were looking for was somebody that could be a role model. Why is that?

Brenda Soto: Yeah, it is very important to be a role model. They are not just searching for a model; they are searching for a role model. It is very important to have someone that has -- that little girls can look up to. For me, I am a civil engineering student, so I can let those girls know that they can be in school and they can also accomplish that -- anything they set their mind to.

José Cárdenas: Brenda Soto, Miss Arizona Latina, congratulations once again and thank you for joining us.

Brenda Soto: Thank you.