A Year In Review from our Founder Jacki Cisneros

When my husband, Gilbert, and I started this organization in 2013, we had one goal in mind: to help local children and their families pursue and achieve their dreams of obtaining a college degree. As I look back at 2016 and see all of the milestones we’ve hit, I am astounded by what we’ve been able to accomplish with the help of our community and partners.

Now that the year is coming to an end, we’re asking for your continued support. Gilbert and I have made a pledge to match EVERY donation made in the month of December. This month is your opportunity to double your donation and help us build on all of 2016’s successes to make 2017 even greater! Here’s a glimpse at how your financial donation has directly supported the programs and successes from 2016….

Last January We Blasted into the New Year with NASA Astronaut, Jose Hernandez
We invited NASA Astronaut, Jose Hernandez, to speak to El Rancho High School students and the community and share his journey from a young Latino from the farming area of Stockton, California to becoming a NASA Astronaut. He inspired us with his stories and shared his own father’s words of wisdom: “You have to draw yourself a roadmap of where you want to go & keep your eyes on the prize. You have to go to college & always give more than what people expect of you.”

March Madness with ABC7 and 4th Annual Town Hall

In March, we were honored when ABC7’s Alysha Del Valle came to Pico Rivera to interview us for a Vista L.A. feature on higher education. Just a few days after, we hosted our 4th annual Town Hall, which is designed to help students and their parents learn how to leverage G1DPR college access programs, high school and middle school resources that will help them more easily prepare to have a competitive college edge.

Spring Flings: College Campus Tours and “College Signing Event”

Spring is always an exciting time of the year because by then, our senior high school students have received acceptance letters, many receiving positive letters from not just one, but also several colleges! In the spirit of college going, we took more than 30 students on a Northern California college campus tour, which included visits to Stanford, San Francisco State, and UC Santa Cruz. A few weeks after, on April 29th, we celebrated all of our students’ academic achievements with our “College Signing Event,” where students proudly wore t-shirts or sweatshirts from the college they will attend in the fall.

Summer Send Off Luncheon and Senior Boot Camp

Once our senior students walked the stage and accepted their high school diplomas, the fun didn’t stop. We hosted our annual College Send Off Luncheon where El Ranch High School alum, the newest graduates and the incoming senior class had a chance to mix, mingle and share success stories and tips.

In July, the incoming senior class participated in a Summer Senior Boot Camp, which gives the students an opportunity to get a jumpstart on college preparation by visiting local colleges and preparing resumes and personal essays.


July was by far one of the most memorable highlights this year. Gilbert and I took two of our students to join First Lady Michelle Obama during a “Beating the Odds” summit. We had several “pinch us, are we really in the White House,” moments and I will never forget being able to share this opportunity with two of Pico Rivera’s young, bright future leaders.

Back to School with the Dodgers and Kindergarten Book Giveaway

In September we took several of our students to their very first Dodger Game, in partnership with the Dodger Foundation.

Our 5th annual Kindergarten Book Giveaway took place in October, where few of our first giveaway recipients, who are now in 4th grade, joined us as guest speakers.

UCSB Rolls out the Red Carpet for 72 Pico Rivera Students & Parents

In November we took to the road once again, this time with 60 students and about 12 parents, to visit UC Santa Barbara. This was the first time we’ve been able to offer parents an opportunity to share in a college campus tour and provide them with their own separate workshop to dispel some of their fears about sending their child away to college.

And sprinkled in between all of the milestones I mentioned above, were dozens of college-prep workshops focusing on fine tuning personal essays, filling out college applications, meeting with college admissions staff, navigating financial aid and celebrating individual successes.

2017 Will Be Great with YOUR Help!

As you can see, each year Generation 1st Degree works diligently and creatively to provide unique experiences that help prepare and inspire Pico Rivera youth to reach for a college degree. We are excited to bring more college-inspiring and preparation opportunities to our students from preschool on up in 2017, but we cannot do it without your help.

If you or your family have been touched by any of the resources Generation 1st Degree has offered throughout the year or want to help increase the opportunities for our students to earn a college degree, we hope you will consider donating a gift in honor of our community’s future leaders. Keep in mind that Gilbert and I have made a pledge to match EVERY donation contributed in the month of December. Here is your chance to DOUBLE your donation so twice the number of students can benefit!



From my family to yours, thank you for your ongoing support! We wish you a festive and safe holiday season.

Jacki Cisneros