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INGLEWOOD, Calif. – With extensive careers as educators and as degree holders themselves, Greg and Dr. Yasmin Delahoussaye understand how critical access to obtaining a four-year degree can be.

Back in 1987, they led 35 students on their first Black College Tour, an eye-opening experience that helped show students a sense of belonging and that no one could limit their career choices. Fifteen years later, on May 17, 2002, they created a 501(c)3 nonprofit to achieve their vision of helping foster and low-income youth to earn a four-year college degree – knowing that by positively impacting access to that, "you improve that young person's overall quality of life and our collective future," according to the organization's website.

Their continued work carrying out that that vision today through the Educating Students Together (EST) College Access Program (CAP) is why Greg and Yasmin were recently recognized as the Rams' 11th "pLAymaker" honoree of 2023.

"Being selected as an L.A. Rams Playmaker is a fantastic feeling, given that there are over 69,000 nonprofits in Los Angeles County, and our organization was one of 13 chosen for recognition," Greg and Yasmin said. "We believe that recognition as a Rams Playmaker will increase awareness of our nonprofit and allow us to serve more parents who need help getting their children into college and, more importantly, finding the resources to pay for it."

Greg and Yasmin said EST's mission is to break the cycle of poverty and improving the quality life for foster and low-income youth by helping them access and complete post-secondary education. 

It stems from these findings from Pew Charitable Trust and the National Center for Education Statistics:

  • Pew Charitable Trust says many foster youth experience unemployment, go on public assistance, or become involved in the criminal justice system when they leave high school and don't enroll in college. Less than 3 percent of former foster youth ever graduate from college without the support of a warm and caring individual. 
  • National Center for Education Statistics says only 16 percent of low-income students graduate from college.

EST's CAP program provides solutions which include college counseling and preparation, mentoring and networks of support, plus financial coaching and support. Once in college, EST has paid tuition, bought books, clothing, jackets, medicine, and food – in other words, do everything to ensure those students "graduate and thrive and create positive generational change."

Since the inception of Greg and Yasmin's program, 100% of their students have been accepted into some outstanding colleges and universities, 96 percent are on track to graduate on time, and over the past three years, their scholars have received almost $11 million in scholarships. 

"Our long-term goal is that more significant numbers of foster and low-income youth successfully graduate from college at percentages that exceed the national average, that our scholars can build generational wealth because of not being overburdened with student loan debt, and that our alums become part of a professional network of graduates who pay it forward by volunteering to help others," Greg and Yasmin said.

Within the EST family, inspiring change means "a total commitment of energy and time to ensure that every student in foster care and from the low-income communities we serve has every advantage possible on their journey to college," according to Greg and Yasmin. To that end, their services include assistance with: 

  • College admissions essays.
  • SAT tutoring.
  • Financial literacy.
  • Social-emotional learning.
  • Interviewing skills.
  • Time management skills
  • Career assessments.
  • Brag sheets.
  • Financial aid.

"While all these elements of what EST provides are essential to getting into college, a vital factor in the success of our scholars is making it clear through our actions and words that they are important and that we care about them like our own children," they said. "We have this mindset because they are our children!"

When it comes to inspiring change in one's own community, Greg and Yasmin said recognizing the value and importance of all members of our communities is a must to bring about positive change.

They point to the story of Camryn Burns, who, prior to getting involved with their program, believed she could only afford to go to a community college. After going through their program, she was accepted into 22 top-tiered colleges and universities and received offers of $1.2 million in scholarships.

"Seeing and understanding that our program is making positive change in our community will inspire others to bring about positive change in their communities!" Greg and Yasmin said.

To learn more about EST, click here to visit its website.

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