ABC-21: Fort Wayne fundraiser helps Dreamers get a degree

Photo from ABC 21

Photo from ABC 21

We are excited to share this news story of one of our scholars who is doing his best to receive a quality education, graduate, and pursue his career despite his difficulties in life. It’s stories like this that we love to share. Thank you to our funders that make it possible for us to help students like Juan get an education, and thank you to our HLCNI partners.


FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) — This Saturday marks the 13th annual Noche de Gala – the fundraiser for the Hispanic Leadership Coalition of Northeast Indiana (HLCNI).

The nonprofit offers scholarships to low-income first and second-generation Hispanic students in our region.

ABC21 is a proud sponsor of the yearly fundraiser for HLCNI. Four years ago, the organization partnered with Questa to give scholarships and forgivable student loans to local students attending local colleges and who commit to staying and working in Northeast Indiana for at least five years after graduation – regardless of their citizenship status.

We wanted to check in on one of the original six students to receive that financial aid.

Under an electrical tower, just behind the I-69 and Goshen Road overpass, you’ll find Juan Gonzalez Rangel helping his little brother with homework while their parents work a night shift.

“I don’t know if people understand what it’s like to live illegally in the United States but it’s scary,” says Rangel.

His parents cross the border illegally when he was 3-years-old.

“I’ve lived here all my life,” says Rangel. “So all I know is the United States.”

Rangel is one of the estimated 3.6 million undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. before their 18th birthday, the so-called “Dreamers.”

“Just to know you can get deported at any moment,” says Rangel. “You’re whole life can just change at any moment. That’s scary.”

School work helped manage that fear.

“When I open a book and I take a test and I do good in school – that makes me feel welcome,” says Rangel.

And he proved good at school. He graduated sixth in his class at Northrop High School, but when he started searching through hundreds of scholarships to help pay for college, he kept hitting the same roadblock.

“There would always be that fine print,” says Rangel.

Dreamers don’t qualify for the nation’s most common financial aid program – FAFSA. And even though Rangel has called Fort Wayne home since before he can remember, Dreamers must pay out-of-state tuition to attend even some public schools.

“You’re welcome,” says Rangel. “But you’re not welcome. It was extremely hard. I felt like wow, nobody appreciates me.”

“We want to make sure that these students get educated,” says Paula Avila, president of HLCNI. “We know with education there’s a level of self-fulfillment that helps the whole community.”

Avila remembers working with a group of 15 Latino students at Saint Francis.

“What I noticed with the freshman is that half of them ended up dropping out,” recalls Avila.

But the students who received the Questa and HLCNI scholarships….

“They’re still pursuing their educational degree,” says Avila.

“That’s $20,000!” exclaims Rangel. “That’s huge! Financially I feel like I can breath, because I can go to school, and I can study.”

Juan is entering his junior year at the nursing program at Saint Francis. He took a year off of school to return to Mexico and get a green card. He plans to graduate in 2021.

The gala kicks off at 6:30 p.m. at the Parkview Mirro Center. Doors open at 6. There will be a live band, salsa lessons and a silent auction. Tickets are $80 and there are still a few left. You can buy one at the door on a first-come, first-serve basis, or you can call to buy tickets or make a donation at (260) 222-7099.


Congrats to the 2019 Questa Scholar Graduates!

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Questa Education Foundation is proud to announce the 2019 spring graduating class. This graduating class includes 70 students from Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, Noble, Steuben and Whitley counties. These Questa Scholars have received their associate’s or bachelor’s degrees in various fields, and several are already employed in the Northeast Indiana area in companies and organizations such as the University of Saint Francis, Warsaw Community Schools, Weigand Construction, and MedPro Group.

Our mission at Questa is to invest in talent within the area and help fund their education. In return, these students will be valuable assets to the Northeast Indiana workforce, while also beginning a successful career with less debt. Many of these scholars received low-interest forgivable loans: 50% in loan forgiveness for living and working in northeast Indiana for 5 years following graduation, and an additional 25% of the total loan is paid back when they attend and graduate from one of the eight partner regional institutions. Questa’s partner schools include Grace College, Indiana Tech, Manchester University, Huntington University, Purdue Fort Wayne, Indiana Wesleyan Fort Wayne, Trine University, Ivy Tech Community College, and the University of Saint Francis. In other words, a scholar can borrow $20,000 with the possibility of only having to pay back $5,000.

Questa Scholars are contributing to the economy of Northeast Indiana by being the talent we need. Questa Scholars are insurance agents, engineers, fire fighters, nurses, teachers, marketers, analysts, and entrepreneurs. In order to keep this talent local, then local support is essential. Funding for Questa Scholars comes from local and regional foundations, businesses and organizations. For more information on how you can fund scholars in your community, visit our website at www.questafoundation.org or call us at 260-407-6494.

 

On behalf of the Questa team we would like to say congratulations to all our recent graduates, and we wish you all the best as you enter your new careers. View the names of our graduates, the university they attended, as well as their program of study while in college HERE. Congrats graduates!

Questa Scholars Are Changing the Local Workforce

The talent gap is a challenge for our community, and the Questa Education Foundation is working with partners to bridge the talent gap by investing in people. Questa is excited to announce 74 new scholars into the Traditional Scholars program in addition to the 400 students currently being funded through the Questa Scholars Program.

These students have recently graduated from high school and will be entering college this fall as freshmen or have just completed their first year in their undergraduate degree. Through the Questa Scholars program, scholars will be given low-interest forgivable loans to help reduce their college debt. Each of the scholars have unique stories and important aspirations. At Questa, we want to invest in these learners to help them graduate with less debt, explore their passions and become the talent we need that will improve our local economy. The one-of-a-kind funding provides the possibility of receiving loan forgiveness for as much as 75 percent of the total loan amount! By attending a partner school, students will receive 25 percent forgiveness and an additional 50 percent forgiveness by living and working in the area for five years after graduation.

Jasmin Armstrong is one of the newly chosen Questa Scholars who desires to create an impact in the lives of veterans. With her mother and stepfather both being Army veterans, she is passionate about pursuing a Psychology degree to help those who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“I aspire to be a positive impact on the people who put their lives on the line for our country every day. Once I earn a doctoral degree in Psychology, I intend to work for the Veterans Health Administration as a psychologist.”

Armstrong plans to attend Trine University in the fall.

Of the students that have graduated in the Questa Scholars program, 81 percent are graduating in 4 years compared to the national average of 59 percent. In addition, two-thirds are either staying or return to live and work in our region. The result of the Questa program is talent retained in our communities.

Jacob Scheele, a May 2019 graduate and Questa Scholar, is one of two-thirds of Questa scholars that are staying to work in the northeast Indiana region. Scheele believes northeast Indiana is a welcoming, friendly community that he is excited to create roots in. He currently works for Weigland Construction as their business development coordinator, where he also completed his internship.

“Questa played a big part in my decision to stay and pursue a career in the area and has helped me not worry about finances so I can focus on my career.”

Questa invests in the lives of these students, so they can thrive and continue to use their talents in the Northeast Indiana workforce. Traditional students, as mentioned above, drive only one part of our strategy. Individuals who did not complete an education, but are already in the workforce, can also be the talent we need with more education or training. Industry certifications, associate, and bachelor’s degrees are all ways to access livable wage jobs.

How can you help? Become a partner with Questa and help by providing funds for current and future talent needs. The support of our funders and donors is vital for Questa to be able to carry out this mission. Find out more about our forgivable loan programs and how you can partner with us at www.questafoundation.org or call (260) 407-6494.

View the names of our accepted Questa Scholars and where they plan to attend college HERE.

Bridging the Talent Gap

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Is the workforce able to fill the jobs being brought to the area? Do we have the talent we need to continue to grow our businesses and our economy? These are the questions that the Questa Education Foundation is tackling everyday. The approach is to collaborate and partner with one another rather than steal each other’s talent, or recruit from out of the area.

“It’s time to start collaborating on the talent pool, as opposed to competing with each other for the same talent” - Marc Levy, Executive Director at the Questa Education Foundation

At Questa, we see the importance of partnering with local businesses to not just to invest in our students and graduates, but to also invest in our current workforce to help them receive the education and/or training that they need. We have the talent we need right here in Northeast Indiana.

Find out more about how Questa and area businesses are partnering together to bridge the talent gap. Read Questa’s full profile in the April 2019 issue of Business People and read more articles at http://businesspeople.com/ .

Read the full article HERE.

Time to Grow Our Talent

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“Talent, talent, talent. A challenge that industries and companies across Indiana are facing is to find people with the necessary skills to fill open positions. Many organizations are recognizing that if we continue down this path without making changes, our economy will certainly suffer.” - Marc Levy, Executive Director at the Questa Education Foundation, Guest Column in BizVoice Magazine

At Questa, we are dedicated to not just helping students complete their education and graduate with less debt, but retaining their great talent in the Northeast Indiana area. Talent retention is key if we are going to join together to grow our economy and businesses - we must invest in people.

Read more about Questa’s strategic approach to retaining talent in the March/April 2019 issue of BizVoice Magazine. You can find the full magazine online here: https://www.bizvoicemagazine.com/ or read the full article below.

Read the full article HERE.