Press Release: UNITE-LA and Partners Come Together to Help L.A. Area Youth Plan for College & Maximize Federal and State Financial Aid


Nov. 5, 2022

Claudine Battisti




LOS ANGELES, CA — UNITE-LA today presented L.A. Cash for College to provide college preparation, financial aid assistance, career exploration and scholarship opportunities to L.A. area students at L.A. Cash for College: College and Career Fair at Los Angeles Trade Technical College.

In its 21st year, L.A. Cash for College is the largest financial aid awareness campaign in the region and has successfully assisted over 300,000 students in preparing for college and applying for financial aid, resulting in more than $1.2 billion in student aid. The program goal is to ensure first-generation, low-income students in the Los Angeles area access the funding and support they need to pursue a post-secondary education and are prepared academically and developmentally for college and rewarding careers.

"UNITE-LA knows financial barriers often deter students from pursuing a postsecondary education, and this should never be the case. UNITE-LA is honored to join with local leaders and organizations to ensure that, regardless of age, income or immigration status, every student is able to access the resources needed to pursue his or her dreams," said UNITE-LA President Alysia Bell. "Additionally, engaging in the financial aid process has become even more critical as the pandemic has put greater strains on families and their finances."

The free event featured financial aid college and career preparation workshops with experts from local colleges, providing guidance on how to pay for school and giving students an edge in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), California Dream Act and Chafee Grant applications.

"Los Angeles Unified is committed to preparing our students to be ready for the world,” said Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho. “Thanks to the hard work of our employees and families, we are a leader in FAFSA/CADAA completion, with nearly 72% of our seniors completing these important applications last year. We are grateful for our ongoing partnership with the Cash for College event organizers to ensure that not a single student misses out on the opportunity for higher education due to financial hardship."

Efforts, like L.A. Cash for College, are especially crucial as California embarks on a new, universal approach to financial aid applications for high school seniors. Starting this year, public schools are required to confirm that all high school seniors apply for financial aid or opt-out, expanding access to resources for college and career training to thousands of students.

"California's new, universal FASFA/CA Dream Act requirement provides an opportunity to ensure all students understand they are college material and there is money available to pay their college costs. We have a responsibility to ensure they have all the information needed to make informed decisions about their options after high school graduation. By investing in our students today, we are investing in the health and well-being of our state's future," said Marlene Garcia, Executive Director of the California Student Aid Commission. "We must help our students apply for either the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the California Dream Act application (CADAA) as soon as possible so they know how much money is available to pay their college costs. This is the best way to help them secure a debt-free, college experience."

In addition to the various workshops, a Financial Aid Awareness Ceremony took place at noon where President Bell was joined by Cash for College champions and area leaders, including Dr. Kathleen Burke, interim president, Los Angeles Trade Technical College; Dr. Karla Estrada, deputy superintendent of Public Instruction, Los Angeles Unified School District; Marlene Garcia, executive director, California Student Aid Commission; and Dr. Gabriel Buelna, board president, Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees. NBC4 reporter, Darsha Philips, emceed the ceremony.

The day concluded with the awarding of 10, $1,500 scholarships to students in attendance, in honor of our Cash for College legacy champions, Dr. Alma Salazar and Gary Toebben.

L.A. Cash for College: College and Career Fair is sponsored and supported by the following:
Premier Sponsors: Bank of America and Youssef and Kamel Mawardi Fund;
Presenting Sponsors: California Community Foundation and Ralphs;
Food Sponsor: Echoes of Hope;
Beverage Sponsor: Reyes Coca-Cola Bottling;
Legacy Pioneers and Champions for Cash for College Scholarship Sponsors: Children's Hospital Los Angeles and Delta Air Lines;
Workshop Sponsors: Avantus, Royal Business Bank, Snap Inc., and Yusen Terminals; and
Partners: Agnew Multilingual, The California State University System, California Student Aid Commission, CALSOAP Los Angeles, City of Los Angeles Economic & Workforce Development Department, City of Los Angeles Youth Development Department, Let's Go to College California, Los Angeles Community College District, Los Angeles County Office of Education, Los Angeles Unified School District, Mayor's Fund for Los Angeles, Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, SoCal CAN and State Bank of India (California)



Over the past 25 years, UNITE-LA has been a trusted education-business intermediary, dedicated to supporting the development of an effective local public education system, so that all children and youth succeed in school, college, career and beyond. Through the intersection of programming, policy, and systems change efforts, UNITE-LA works to increase equity and access to high-quality early childhood education, improve college access and success, and ensure workforce readiness, especially for individuals facing systemic barriers into the workforce. Visit

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