ABHMS’ Rizpah’s Children helps additional JOYA Scholars reach success

Partnership can make all the difference. Just ask Laura Macias, executive director of JOYA Scholars, a nonprofit organization that will soon expand its reach to inspire the success of additional students in Fullerton, Calif., thanks to its connection to Rizpah’s Children, a ministry of American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS).

“Last year, we had 15 students on the waiting list,” Macias says. “And thanks to the $15,000 grant from the Rizpah’s Children network, all students were admitted, and each one has their own tutor and mentor to succeed as they prepare for college success.”

JOYA Scholars seeks to prepare middle and high school students for higher education by offering weekly one-on-one mentoring and tutoring, SAT preparation workshops, and college tours. Co-founded by the Rev. Kevin Doi, pastor of Epic Church, Fullerton, JOYA Scholars currently serves students in Fullerton’s low-income Garnet neighborhood and is pursuing plans to serve Fullerton’s impoverished Maple neighborhood.

 “These last five years at JOYA have been amazing,” says student Cristian Flores. “As the oldest in the family, I have no one to talk to about my college journey. JOYA has been like the older sibling I can depend on to help me get there.”

 JOYA’s Spanish-language “Parent Academy” program lets parents join the effort by offering tools that parents can use to encourage their children’s success.

“I know if my son makes it to a four-year university, my other children will follow in his footsteps,” says parent Yadira Barragan. “He feels inspired and prepared. And I can’t think JOYA enough for steering him in the right direction.”

According to JOYA’s website, “Without academic support and a plan for higher education, kids from low-income communities are more susceptible to dropping out of high school, affiliating with gang life and qualifying for only low-paying work. By supporting our students through academic tutoring, our students are becoming college-bound.”

JOYA Scholars is a past recipient of a grant from ABHMS’ former Justice for Children initiative.

 Additional information about ABHMS’ Rizpah’s Children is available online.