The YMCA of Greater Long Beach isn’t just a place that serves the community’s immediate needs, it also helps young people prepare for their collegiate future through its Youth Institute.

Thanks to a donation that came from an anonymous supporter of the program, six Youth Institute students at Cal State Long Beach and Long Beach City College were awarded a Community Leader Scholarship.

LBCC recipients will get $1,500 per year or $750 per semester for two years, while CSULB recipients will get $2,500 per year or $1,250 per semester for two years.

“I shared (with the donor) that it would be nice to be able to cover the cost of college applications, registration fees, textbooks and testing fees for those Youth Institute alumni who didn’t have the financial resources to do so,” said Les Peters, the YMCA of Greater Long Beach’s executive director. “In those 23 years, we have guided thousands of young people to pursue post-secondary educational goals. (Ninety percent of them) are first generation and many were not considered college material by their high schools.”

Daniela Torres, Devin Muk and Carlos Rodriguez are the awardees from Cal State Long Beach. Patrick Muk, Edwin Iscoa and Digeo Gutierrez are the awardees from Long Beach City College. The awardees received certificates at a YMCA ceremony last month.

Edwin Isoca’s parents are immigrants from Honduras and Mexico who are working on obtaining citizenship. In Isoca’s scholarship application, he explained that he didn’t get much help from financial aid services.

“Watching my more fortunate friends attend UCI and UCLA their first year of college is heartbreaking at times, and I find myself wishing it was me,” he wrote. “Though, I keep my head on straight and up to make sure I continue the work I need to do to get there too, it’s just going to take me a little more effort.”

Since 2001, the Youth Institute has provided mentoring and academic support to low-income, culturally diverse students. The program offers access to technology, homework assistance, learning experiences, college readiness programming and more. According to the YMCA, it has served over 5,500 local students and 88% of the graduating high school seniors attend a university, college or trade school.

“I know I am doing, and will continue to do, great things to better help my family, friends, community, and mainly myself,” recipient Daniela Torres wrote in her application. “I need the help to continue to do that and I hope this scholarship can provide that for me.

“I hope to do and create more than I do now because I know I have the people around me to help. Graduating with a Marine Biology major is my goal, and I don’t want to be held back from it.”