KidWorks Academic Programs Empower Six At-Risk Santa Ana Youth to Graduate from Mater Dei High School

Teens are Now Ready for College


Santa Ana, CA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 05/24/2012 --KidWorks, a Santa Ana-based non-profit that serves at-risk children and teens, today announced that six youth in its programs have successfully graduated from Mater Dei High School, a private Catholic high school, also located in Santa Ana. This is the largest number of teens in KidWorks programs to ever have graduated from Mater Dei, known for its demanding academic standards tailored to help students succeed in high school and beyond.

All six graduating KidWorks students have also been accepted by leading colleges or universities, and will begin pursuing their bachelor’s degrees in September.

“Kids growing up in the at-risk, low-income communities of central Santa Ana are not being prepared to enter college,” said Ava Steaffens, KidWorks’ President & Chief Executive Officer. “Schools in Santa Ana rank last in the Academic Performance Index for Orange County and only 20 percent of students are taking college preparation courses in high school. KidWorks’ academic and leadership development programs focus on preschool age children on up to encourage them to finish high school, earn an advanced academic degree, and to be contributing members of society. We are delighted that for the past two years 100 percent of KidWorks’ students complete high school, and 74 percent go on to attend a college or university.”

KidWorks has partnered with Mater Dei for six years to provide access to a solid education for impoverished youth in the city. KidWorks “Mater Dei Scholars Fund” relies on individual, corporate and foundation donations to provide $6,000 of the $12,000 annual tuition cost per student, with Mater Dei matching the remaining $6,000.

"Mater Dei High School is honored to have a partnership with KidWorks, which does such outstanding work in reaching out to children and families in need. We are so proud of the six KidWorks students who are graduating from MDHS this year and who are going on to higher education. These students now have a brighter future due to KidWorks and its partnership with Mater Dei High School."

The youth in KidWorks programs who will receive their Mater Dei diplomas at graduation ceremonies in May are Betty Garcia, Danny Torres, Fritzi Valladares, Javier Morales, Julia Hernandez, and Xitlally Sanchez.

“I will be a first generation college student from my family, and KidWorks prepared me for this goal ever since I began attending their programs in kindergarten,” said Xitlally Sanchez, 18, who has been accepted at Scripps College, a member of the Claremont Schools. “I am so grateful to have the support of Mater Dei and KidWorks throughout my high school years.”

“Attending Mater Dei is an opportunity I never could have imagined for myself,” said Betty Garcia, 19, who has been accepted at Azusa Pacific University, where she will major in communications and media. “Those who sponsored my tuition put their trust in students like me, and truly care about our lives.”

About KidWorks
KidWorks mission is to restore at-risk neighborhoods one life at a time by improving the education and sustainability prospects for children and youth living in central Orange County’s Santa Ana. KidWorks was founded in 1993 and incorporated in 2002 as a public benefit organization for underprivileged children and their families providing preschool programs, after-school tutoring, youth mentoring, adult education services and leadership development programs.

About Mater Dei
Established in 1950, Mater Dei High School is a diocesan Catholic high school that recognizes each student as a gift from God. We are dedicated to the development of the whole person: spiritual, intellectual, physical, emotional and aesthetic. Each of our students are challenged by a college preparatory curriculum and encouraged to reach his/her full potential through extensive co-curricular and extra-curricular programs. Mater Dei has established a tradition of excellence with 99% of our graduating seniors going on to college each year.