Community Collaboration: Reflections from uAspire Bay Area’s Program Director

By: Monica Hayden | Thursday, December 10, 2015

As the programmatic leader of uAspire’s local work, I see day in and day out the many opportunities for collaboration that exist in the Bay Area. With many college access and success organizations working to support students, it’s powerful how often these organizations come together to strengthen one another.

One recent example of this kind of partnership was San Francisco Unified School District’s Financial Aid for All Kickoff, hosted at City College of San Francisco last month. uAspire is thrilled to partner with a school district that has a strategic focus on college affordability—and, this year, to have helped plan for and deliver their annual district-wide college affordability event.

The Financial Aid for All Kickoff brought together SFUSD guidance and college counselors as well as numerous community-based organizations that play a critical role in supporting students with the college-going process. The presenters included San Francisco State University, City College of San Francisco, Educators for Fair Consideration, California Student Aid Commission, and local scholarship organizations.

I was glad to be able to lead two trainings to help all school and community-based staff be equipped to support students and families in the financial aid process:

  • CSS Profile Overview: Introduced participants to the CSS Profile (a financial aid application required by many private colleges), explained differences among the CSS Profile and other financial aid forms, and gave tips and tricks on how to navigate the form.
  • FSA ID – Supporting Students and Families: Taught participants how to navigate Federal Student Aid’s brand new login process and shared uAspire’s best practices on helping families through this process.

With the busiest time of the financial aid process approaching, I’m also excited to soon be training San Francisco’s Cash for College volunteers on how to navigate the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the California Dream Act application. Cash for College events will take place throughout the state to provide students and families with support in completing this crucial part of the college process.

At uAspire Bay Area, we are eager to strengthen the college affordability knowledge of students and adults alike—and it’s community collaboration that allows us to do that.

In partnership,


Monica Hayden

Program Director, uAspire Bay Area