Every year, the Fulfillment Fund serves over 2,700 students in economically and educationally under-resourced communities. Now in its 40th year, the organization has helped tens of thousands of youth gain access to higher education through classroom instruction, college counselling, mentoring, and scholarships.
To illuminate the opportunities the organization provides and raise funds to maximize its impact on students, the Fulfillment Fund held its 4th Inspiration Breakfast at Mr. C Beverly Hills on May 25, 2017. The event was attended by Fulfillment Fund mentors, volunteers, donors, Alumni, current students, as well as members of its Auxiliary Groups: The Leadership Council and Scholar Bridge.
Lindy Huang Werges
Our Founder and Principal Lindy Huang Werges had the distinct honor of kicking off the event by sharing how the organization has become near and dear to her heart throughout the years.
She said, “I first learned about the Fulfillment Fund in 2012 through my Summer intern, Jessica Naves. Jessica had just graduated from Gertz-Ressler, one of Fulfillment Fund’s partner schools, and was starting as a freshman at UCLA that Fall on a full ride as Gates Foundation Scholar and a Fulfillment Fund Scholar.”
As her mentor, Lindy talked to Jessica about her goals, aspirations, and most importantly Jessica’s desire to help her family financially and the Fulfillment Fund, because the Fund has done so much for her. As a result of their talks, Lindy decided to reach out to the Fund to learn more about the organization.
In 2015, Lindy brought her second Fulfillment Fund intern, Michelle Reyna, to work at Integritas Resources; and in 2016, Michelle helped to bring in a third Fulfillment Fund intern, Evelin.
“Many of us are introduced to various philanthropic organizations in hopes that we will change lives or make a bit of a difference. In my case, Jessica changed my life and I believe my family’s as well,” Lindy concluded. “She brought me to the Fulfillment Fund; to this incredible organization that encourages children who come from under-resourced communities that they can dream big; that there is more for them in this world than just the neighborhood they grew up in; that college is for them; that it can be a reality for them; that they can flip the script and make a new life, a better life, not just for themselves, but also for their families.”
Maria Espinosa Booth
As the CEO of Fulfillment Fund, Maria is proud to say that the organization has grown the number of students they serve by more than 30% over the past few years. “Together we’re making an incredible impact. Whereas only five in 10 students in low-income communities who graduate high school go on to college, more than nine in 10 of our students do,” she said. These numbers are particularly impressive given that unlike other organizations, Fulfillment Fund students are not cherry-picked.
Growing up, Maria saw her grandmother struggle to get a high-level education – not because she was not smart enough, but because she was a young woman, and only young men were afforded an education. As she grew up, Maria became more aware that education is the great equalizer. Yet, access to education was still hard, even today. That was why she was determined to get an education, not only for herself, but for her grandmother, who never could.
She concluded, “My vision for the future is to build on our model and bring in more supporters and advocates. I am determined for us to succeed so that the next generation of Fulfillment Fund students has the same opportunity that I had, that our alumni here today had, and that many here today had.”
At every Inspiration Breakfast, a Fulfillment Fund scholar is invited to share how the organization has changed their lives and helped them overcome the obstacles to obtain a higher-level education. This year, the student testimonial was presented by Marissa Zuleta, who has just graduated from Marist College with a B.A. in Social Work and a minor in Psychology, and who will be on her way to obtain a Master’s Degree in the Advanced Standing Social Work Program at Columbia University.
Before the Fulfillment Fund, Marissa shared, she was a “C” student who never thought she would go to college. Both her father and her step-mother were struck with illness; her family of eight was thrown into financial turmoil; within two years, they were evicted from two different apartments. Once, they were 24 hours away from being homeless.
Despite the chaos, the Fulfillment Fund guided her through the college application process. Not only did they help her apply to 12 different college, but also awarded her with the Fulfillment Fund scholarship. For the first time, Marissa felt that someone truly believed in her.
She concluded, “I’ve had many ups and downs in my life, and moments when things felt hopeless. Still, there is a common thread that has never disappeared – and that constant presence has been, and continues to be, the Fulfillment Fund. Thank you for always treating me like a person and never a statistic. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for helping students like me achieve dreams they never thought they could have.”
To help make college a reality for students like Marissa, please visit www.fulfillmentfund.org. The Fulfillment Fund is pleased to announce that an anonymous donor has pledged a significant donation to the organization, so that every gift given to the Fund before June 30 will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $1 million. Don’t miss this incredible chance to help twice as many students!
To view the complete event gallery, please click here.