Every day at 7 a.m., Ivonne Villanueva wakes to a sweet, maternal voice, plus a hug and a kiss. Ivonne’s mother tells her child to do her best at school that day.

Walking out into her beloved Mission neighborhood, Ivonne carries this important message with her.

Ivonne’s mother has instilled the value of education in her daughter, who wanted to be the first in the family to go to college. The Villanuevas, a family of five, emigrated from Mexico in search of a better life, and Ivonne wants to make her parents proud — to know that the journey was well worth it.

Ivonne has definitely noticed all of the money flooding her community in recent years. This has translated to longtime Latino small business shutting their doors, with dollar stores replaced by gleaming, market-rate condos.

There is also the fear of tenant eviction that pervades the Latino community.

Ivonne (photo, left) explains her family’s housing anxiety as follows: “We worry about the possibility that our landlord might kick us out to get renters who can pay more. We are afraid to lose our home if our rent increases because we might not be able to afford to stay in the Mission.”

Ivonne wants to study business and cosmetology, with the goal to open her own hair salon once she has earned a degree. Longing to stay in her now-pricey neighborhood, Ivonne knows it will take money to make that a reality. The type of income only a college degree can offer.

Though Ivonne heeded her mother’s counsel to dream big, there was still the challenge of how to pay for college. This is a typical situation for historically underresourced students in the Mission.

“There is a great need for finding a way to pay for a postsecondary education, especially for our Latino immigrant families. They want their kids to go to college, but it’s neither in the family budget nor have our families saved for it,” explains Mission Promise Neighborhood Family Success Coach Manager Amelia M. Martínez C (photo, right).

To combat this issue, the Mission Promise Neighborhood Scholarship was created this spring, with $10,000 raised from a concerted community effort. At May’s graduation ceremony, four John O’Connell High School seniors received the award. One of them was Ivonne.

One reason Ivonne was selected is because of her community service. She wants to be a community leader, with such advocacy an aim of the Mission Promise Neighborhood. To better her leadership skills, Ivonne got involved with Capernaum Club and Reading Partners. Additionally, at Mission Promise Neighborhood partner Jamestown Community Center, Ivonne has volunteered as a teacher’s assistant and now will be a teacher this fall. Jamestown is a place that lvonne has called home since she was a first-grader. 

Ivonne’s new home in a few weeks will be San Francisco State.

Congratulations, Ivonne!

Donate today to support the college dreams of another Mission Promise Neighborhood student. Any amount helps!


About Mission Promise Neighborhood
The Mission Promise Neighborhood is a citywide community partnership that was created to support kids and families living, working and attending school in the Mission District. It brings together schools, colleges, community organizations and community leaders to help kids graduate and families achieve financial stability.


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