United Way Bay Area

SparkPoint Client Earns Her Degree - 26 Years in the Making!

Posted on June 14, 2011, by United Way in Uncategorized

Sylvia is a single mother with two daughters and a grandchild living at home. After losing her job two years ago, the family was forced to move into a cramped, one-room apartment in Daly City. At times, providing for her family has been a struggle, and obtaining a college degree has seemed out of reach.

Sylvia has been attending classes at Skyline College “off and on” since 1985, juggling evening and weekend classes with work over the years, as she strived to build a better future for her family.

“My daughters haven't had reliable income, and with the extra mouths to feed, I've had to put my education on the back burner so that I could support my family,” Sylvia said.

Things changed when Silvia connected with SparkPoint and the Grove Scholars program at Skyline College, which together are providing both financial support and guidance to help her get back on her feet and complete her education.

Supported by United Way, the SparkPoint Center at Skyline College is one of eight SparkPoints in the Bay Area, which focus on helping people achieve lasting financial stability. The Grove Scholars program, created by former Intel chairman Andy Grove and his wife Eva, provides need-based scholarships to enable people from diverse backgrounds and life stages to pursue vocational training at community colleges and other institutions.

Through SparkPoint, Sylvia has learned better ways to manage her money and save, as well as gained a better understanding of her credit.

She has also taken advantage of SparkPoint's career counseling services to improve her resume and interview skills. “I had a very important interview with the San FranciscoDepartment of Health to work with children in crisis,” Sylvia said. “Although I didn't take the job, I was very nervous before hand, and the mock interviews really helped me prepare.”

Given Sylvia's busy schedule, having multiple services and programs located on campus at SparkPoint has made accessing support easy. For instance, the San Mateo County Employment Development Department has an office at the SparkPoint Skyline Center, which enabled Sylvia to quickly figure out why her unemployment benefit payments stopped abruptly last year.

With a renewed sense of hope, hard work and savings, Sylvia completed her associate degree this month, and is enrolled in the San Francisco State School of Social Work next fall. She and her family recently moved to a larger apartment. With SparkPoint's support, she continues to invest not only in herself, but also in her family's future.

Learn more about SparkPoint at

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