10,000 Degrees Program Offers Financial Boost for Students

Candise Massa

A single educational opportunity can change someone’s life. But how can one arrange that every student who’s willing to work hard has access to those kinds of opportunities, regardless of race, ethnicity, low-income or socioeconomic backgrounds? For nearly 19,000 students, the solution has been 10,000 Degrees. 

“The 10,000 Degrees program played a critical role in giving me the financial support to pursue my studies as well as my dreams,” said California Chief Service Officer Josh Fryday, a 2003 program alumni and former Novato mayor. 

10,000 Degrees is a non-profit organization based in Marin County that works to invest in low-income children and their parents. In 2019, the program was named California’s nonprofit of the year and was awarded over $4 million in scholarships. With this, they leveraged $17.4 million in free financial aid for the students. They prepare students for success in college and beyond. They also assist college students with resume development, interview techniques, LinkedIn profile development, networking skills and more.

10,000 Degrees college access fflow Maria Hernandez explained the positives.

“One of the biggest benefits is that once you are a 10,000 Degrees student, not only do we help you get enrolled in college, we have a team working at College of Marin, SRJC and a team working with all four-year students for them to keep following up with you on financial aid support or anything that you may want help with,” said Hernandez. “So, if you’re looking for an internship over the summer in career development they are more than willing to help you with that.”

10,000 Degrees has reached over 10,000 high school students and more than 2,200 college students on over 50 campuses nationwide. They have embedded their staff in 27 high schools throughout seven Bay Area counties

“The 10,000 Degrees program provides critical financial and mentoring support that makes college accessible for so many of our best and brightest students,” said Fryday. “It’s a wonderful program that benefits the students, their families, and our entire community by lifting up the next generation of leaders.”

According to Guide Star, the program’s comprehensive personal support, academic counseling and financial aid management has allowed more than 80 percent of the program’s four-year college students to earn bachelor’s degrees.

“We are always there to support,” added Hernandez. “We just hope to be someone that students can go to for questions and know that we are there and it’s all confidential if the student ever wants to talk about what they want to do. We never want to tell students what they should be doing but rather guide them on what their options are.” 

“I will always be grateful for the support the program gave me,” added Fryday.

Thanks to their endless dedication, 10,000 Degrees can provide financially-challenged students with a better chance for a brighter future.