CAST Schools » CAST Schools » CAST Announces New ‘College Assistance Program’

CAST Announces New ‘College Assistance Program’

Last year, my husband, Mike Villarreal, and I created a small fund for a graduate of a CAST School who faced gaps in affording a 4-year college. Every year at CAST we hear stories of individual students who weren’t aware of hidden fees, such as for health care or books, or simply need a bit of additional support for transportation to and from school, or other items seldom included in scholarships that focus primarily on tuition.


My husband, a PhD researcher and data scientist who has spent years studying what leads to college success, especially for first generation Latino students, has done multiple studies that have found that even small scholarships or gap financing can play a vital difference for students who are first generation or who lack family resources to fall back upon for some of the incidental costs of college.


Our first recipient of the fund was Diamond Hodge, an ALA graduate who attended the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma with plans to study psychology, and we are talking to Diamond about continuing our support for a second year.


Our contribution of $2400 afforded Diamond a tiny bit of wiggle room in her budget, and made that first year of college just a bit easier to get through.


This year, we have had 36 applicants for the scholarship, including a number from the first graduating class of CAST Lead. If you are interested in supporting a CAST student who could use a boost to make college achievable, please consider making a contribution to the CAST College Assistance Program here or by visiting


Jeanne Russell

Executive Director

CAST Schools

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The Centers for Applied Science and Technology (CAST) Network is a tax-exempt organization as described in Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Service code. CAST Schools are partnership schools with a focus on STEM careers, project based learning and work-based learning. Key partners include public school districts, higher education institutions, and local employers from target industries.