The Barrio Logan College Institute is an after-school program that serves low-income students from across the county and prepares them to go to college. One way the organization says it transforms students’ lives is by educating and empowering parents to exercise school choice, the program that allows students to attend a school other than the one closest to their home.

On this week’s podcast, Barrio Logan College Institute Executive Director Jose Cruz joined co-hosts Scott Lewis and Laura Kohn to talk about school choice and how to create a so-called college-going culture.

“There’s still some controversy around school choice because, of course, when you’re taking a kid from the community and sending them outside of the community, the funding follows the kid,” Cruz said. “While we recognize that, and while we have some efforts to help neighborhood schools improve, our primary focus is what the family needs right here and right now.”

The program provides parents – who are mostly low-income Mexican immigrants – with school outreach events designed to explain the U.S. educational system. BLCI also assists parents with completing school enrollment forms.

Their model has been working, Cruz said.

“We have some families with no formal education whatsoever,” he said. “They want their kids to succeed. They’re not exactly sure what that means. We’re there to answer that question.”

Got thoughts, opinions or experiences with this? Call 619-354-1085 and leave your name, neighborhood and story so we can play the voicemail on future episodes.

Number of the Week

42 percent: That’s the percentage of San Diego Unified parents who select a school other than their assigned neighborhood school.

What’s Working

The Parent Institute for Quality Education  teaches parents how to navigate and impact the school system and promote meaningful interaction and partnerships between parents, schools and educators.

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Rachel Evans is a reporter for Voice of San Diego. She can be reached at

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