• Frank X Rojas

Grand Opening of College Center Aims to Increase Access in Boyle Heights

Updated: Aug 22, 2019

By Frank Rojas 8/13/19

Staff and community members gather behind ScholarMatch alumni for the ribbon cutting of the new center. Photographed by Frank Rojas

The exterior of the building is painted black with large front windows showcasing black and white portraits of youth within the community. There is a wall filled with college banners which include schools such as UC Irvine, UCLA, Cal. State Long Beach, and Cal. State Dominguez Hills. This is the new home for ScholarMatch, a college resource center found in the city of Boyle Heights.

Exterior of the new building. Photographed by Frank Rojas

According to a 2017 Boyle Heights U.S. Census Bureau report, 34% of the city’s residents do not have a college degree. With 67% of the population identifying as Latinx.

Boyle Heights is no stranger in engaging with community members. The city has played a vital role within the Walkouts of 1968, the United Farm Workers Union and the Immigrant Rights Movement.

ScholarMatch is a nonprofit organization that supports low-income students from the college application process all the way until college graduation.

Through their 7-year support program, students are paired with a College Advisor, receive a robust college scholarship, and participate in career development programs.

Founded in San Francisco’s Mission District, ScholarMatch opened a college center in Boyle Heights to support Los Angeles youth pursuing higher education.

The organization serves 73% first-generation students, with 93% who identify as students of color, and with a median family income of $28,000.

ScholarMatch was founded in 2010 by author and writer, Dave Eggers, whose memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is a New York Times bestseller.

The organization is an extension of Eggers’s other nonprofit organization, 826Valencia which serves as a writing and tutoring center for students. Eggers’s vision behind the nonprofit work is to connect local students with community members (donors, mentors, and volunteers alike) to help make college possible.

Los Angeles Site Director, Marilyn Alvarez, speaking on behalf of the organization. Photographed by Frank X. Rojas

In honor of ScholarMatch’s new residency, the organization hosted its grand opening. The event consisted of guest speakers which included Executive Director Diana Adamson, Los Angeles Site Director Marilyn Alvarez, and representatives from Assemblymember Miguel Santiago and Councilmember Jose Huizar.

To conclude the commemoration, the East Los Angeles Performing Arts Academy’s dance team, Rhythm Impact, put on an engaging performance in celebration of the new space.

With all that in mind, ScholarMatch aims to play a pivotal role in creating access to college to those within the Boyle Heights and surrounding communities.

It did that for Jairo who is a ScholarMatch alumni and recent college graduate. He attended the University of California, Berkeley and double majored in Economics and Sociology. Jairo now works as a business development consultant for Oracle. He considers the staff of volunteers who helped him to and through college as his family.

Jairo states, “I grew up with a single father, and I thought college wouldn’t be affordable. ScholarMatch took me in, read my personal statement and saw me for who I was as a person.”

With the opening of the new college resource center, it’s almost impossible to forget about the college admissions scandal that broke earlier this year where parents essentially paid their way in for their son’s and daughter’s acceptance into some of the most elite colleges and universities in the country.

When asked about the topic, ScholarMatch Executive Director, Diana Adamson responded, “I think the scandal makes you realize even more why our work matters. The playing field is very uneven, and that scandal just highlights that a hundred times more. That’s why we exist in doing the work to support our students.”

Inside of the new center. Photographed by Frank Rojas

ScholarMatch is officially now open to the public with the summer drop-in hours. With college applications season approaching in the fall, they are looking for college graduate volunteers to help mentor and support future college students

ScholarMatch is located at 1852 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90033.

Their center’s phone number is (412) 855-0132 and email

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© 2019 by Frank Rojas | Email: