The San Bernardino Valley College Foundation hosted its annual Valley-Bound Commitment Luncheon on March 22, 2019, to celebrate the continued success of San Bernardino Valley College’s (SBVC) Valley-Bound Commitment Program (Valley-Bound) and the generous support of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. Valley-Bound, now in its eleventh year, provides a free first year of college to local high school students and includes textbooks, transportation, registration fees, school supplies, and more. In addition, Valley-Bound students attend a weeklong summer orientation, meet with an educational counselor regularly, participate in field trips to four-year universities, and fulfill a community service requirement. The program is designed to remove economic barriers for low income students and to create an environment that fosters student success. 

SBVC Board Director of the SBVC Foundation, Rich Beemer welcomed guests and discussed the premise of the Board of Directors and how it supports programs like the Valley-Bound program. He thanked the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and recognized Faun White, Program Officer and representative of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.  
Beemer introduced and welcomed Nick Nazarian, Interim Director of Development and Community Relations, to the podium. Nazarian thanked everyone for their support and commitment to the Foundation. He acknowledged and welcomed the foundation board members who were in attendance.  

After lunch, Nazarian returned to the podium and introduced SBVC President Diana Z. Rodriguez. Rodriguez shared how the Valley-Bound Commitment Program, which started in 2008, is one of the few student success programs that has demonstrated its sustainability. She went on to describe “the power of Valley-Bound.” Students persist at a greater rate into their second year, they transfer at a higher rate, they have higher GPAs, and they graduate at a higher rate than their peers at the college who do not participate in Valley-Bound. 
Rodriquez announced the scaling up of the Valley-Bound Commitment Program, called The Free College Promise, which will provide students with support over two years. Rodriguez continued, addressing the Valley-Bound students about the new program, “If you were not successful, we would not be able to do this for students in the future and I hope you are as proud as I am of the legacy that you have built here at the campus.”      

SBVC Dean of Student Equity and Success, Carmen Rodriguez then took to the stage. Rodriguez shared that the Valley-Bound team from SBVC, including Valley-Bound students, presented at the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, this past October. In addition to sharing the achievements of Valley-Bound students and the program, it was a transformational experience for the students. Rodriguez stated, “This is why we do what we do.”  

Following Carmen Rodriguez, Valley-Bound student Kristina Jaramillo shared how the program has helped her as a student, particularly the guidance she received. “I never thought I’d see straight A’s on my transcripts,” Jaramillo said with a smile. She concluded with, “Having the counselors…they were the guidance that made me the student that I am today.”  

Faun White, Program Officer for Education for the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians followed. White recounted her own experiences in preparing to attend college. “Similar to your story,” she said as she looked at Jaramillo, “I didn’t have a path. I didn’t have anyone to encourage me.” White mentioned it was a program, Upward Bound, that gave her the confidence to see that she could attend college. With transportation issues and even having to hold three jobs at one point, she recalled some of the hurdles she faced. White declared, “You have to keep seeing that light, that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”  

White went on to describe how important it is for students to continue their educational trajectories on into graduate school. She ended with a quote, “It takes a village.” White remarked that it takes parents, teachers, counselors, the community colleges, the four-year universities, “It takes all of us to create you…”