MVLA Scholar Looking for Low-Cost Room to Rent

mvlahouseOne of our MVLA Scholars needs a low-cost room to rent from now until September 2017.


Michael Viray is an incredible young man in need of a place to live ASAP. Below is a short self description and recommendation from his mentor, a Los Altos High School assistant principal.


“Hi! My name is Michael Viray and I am currently looking for low-cost housing. I am from Mountain View and am attending Foothill College this year. I am majoring in sociology and hoping to explore more in the health field. I am a very neat and tidy person. I am very courteous and love all types of pets. Currently I am applying to transfer next fall and I am very willing to respect all rules of the house. Thank you for taking the time to read this and hopefully I can hear back from you”.  


Letter of reference from Galen Rosenberg, Assistant Principal, Los Altos High School:

I’ve known Michael Viray for more than two years as a student, employee and recently as a housemate. I can endorse him as a responsible, hard working, neat and friendly person. He has been an entirely pleasant, quiet, responsible tenant for the last several weeks and I am sure any person renting to him will be pleased to have him around. He also got along great with our dog. Galen Rosenberg, assistant principal, Los Altos High School, 650-960-8814


If you have a room to rent, please contact MVLA Scholars at:


MVLA Scholars is a program of the Los Altos Community Foundation

MVLA Scholars’ PEAK with the MVLA High School District

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

That’s a tough question for some high school students. It’s especially difficult for students who would be the first in their families to go to college. They have ambition and talent. But, they don’t always have exposure to professional careers and workplaces from family and friends that could lead them to peak performance.

MVLA Scholars’ PEAK, Pathways, Exposure, Academic Connection and Knowledge, hopes to bridge this gap with visits to local companies, job shadowing and internships.

Earlier this month, 50 Mountain View High School AVID – high-potential students who would be the first in their family to attend college – freshmen and sophomores went to Adobe headquarters in San Jose. Dan Cohen, Adobe executive and MVLA Scholars board member, arranged the visit. Students toured the Adobe campus and attended a panel discussion between newly hired college graduates.

“We’re excited about PEAK and look forward to working with the district to provide meaningful experiences for AVID students” said Susie Mielke, MVLA Scholars board member.

Ninety freshmen and sophomore AVID students from Los Altos High School will go to LinkedIn’s Mountain View campus for a similar visit later this month.

Visits at other companies– tech and non-tech – are being scheduled for the 2016-17 school year.

If you would like to offer visits, job shadowing or internships, please contact MVLA Scholars is a program of the Los Altos Community Foundation.

MVLA Scholars and PEAK are Los Altos Community Foundation programs.

MVLA Scholar Behind the Gold Statue (The Oscars)

Last year, William Martinez attended the Oscars.  Actually, he was working at the Oscars, and you can trace a chain of events from this plum job back to MVLA Community Scholars, a program of the Los Altos Community Foundation, that offers recurring college scholarships and mentors to local low-income youth.

Martinez, an intern of NBC Universal, helped on movie projects, assisting stars and producers, as well as working at the Oscars!  Although it sounds glamorous, it was not an easy road to get there.

William attended UCLA in 2009, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Film, but was forced to return home after only one year despite having been offered several scholarships. “The financial burden was just overwhelming,” he says.

According to Martinez, he “took classes at Foothill Community College to keep myself on track and… found a job at a startup in Silicon Valley.  After a year and a half I was able to return to UCLA.”

Nancy Federman, a member of MVLA Scholars and William’s college mentor adds, “The wonderful thing about MVLA Scholars is that they are committed to the student and stick with them until they graduate, even if it takes more than 4 years.”

Both Nancy and William agree that the most important quality Martinez demonstrated was perseverance.  Keeping his goals foremost in mind, working through every challenge, being patient, and never losing faith; these were the elements of his success.

Once back at UCLA, William became an intern, then an assistant for Emmett Furla Films where he met actors, producers and industry specialists. The experience and networking from this job helped when he applied to NBC Universal.

Martinez acknowledges that he and Federman “…have a great relationship. She has been a great support system throughout my entire journey. Without her help, I wouldn’t be in the place I am now. Thanks to her and the financial support of MVLA Scholars, I have had the chance to meet incredible people. I was also able to find out exactly what I want to do with my life.  I have worked with James Franco and Mark Wahlberg, worked the Oscars, and attended the MTV Movie Awards, Music Video Awards and the Alma Awards.  Who could have dreamed this?” William did.

MVLA Scholars is a program of the Los Altos Community Foundation.

If you would like to help more deserving youth find their dreams, contact

MVLA Scholar in the Town Crier

Octavio Romero arrived in the United States from Mexico at the age of 12, the fifth son of parents who had never attended high school. Although he knew little English when he started Egan Junior High School, Octavio demonstrated quite early that he had what it takes to be a successful student. He had always loved math and had a strong work ethic. He explains that he was motivated to succeed academically.

“I always did my homework as soon as I got home from school,” he said.

At Los Altos High, Octavio earned a 3.8 grade-point average. Although accepted by all of the UCs and CSUs to which he applied, he decided to attend Foothill College, knowing that doing so would make a college education far more affordable.

Octavio’s first introduction to MVLA Community Scholars came through Michael Smith, his AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) teacher, who encouraged him to apply for a Community Scholars scholarship. Octavio is grateful that the money he received from that scholarship allowed him to pay his school fees without having to get a full-time job that would have prevented him from concentrating on his studies.


Read the rest.

Off to college with MVLA Community Scholars

MVLA Octavio Romero2014__010-EditIn the fall, thousands of excited students walk onto college campuses for the first time, eager, happy, and filled with anticipation. However, some, especially first-generation-to-college students, often feel anxious. While other students are walking purposefully around, filing out paperwork and looking as if they know exactly what they need to do and what to expect, these other students can feel like they have just landed on a foreign planet.

MVLA Scholar, Octavio Romero, was first in his family to go to college, and graduated from San Jose State University in December 2013 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He remembers, “The first day (of college)….I felt frightened, almost overwhelmed…I felt so out of place.” Luckily, Octavio had been paired with a mentor to whom he could turn for reassurance and who, according to Octavio, “Was there for everything and anything that I needed.” Another student, Maritza Arreola, is also grateful to the MVLA Community Scholars program for its mentors: “Thanks to this stability in a complicated time of transition, I transferred to Mills College… successfully earning my BA in Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies this past May (2014).”
MVLA Maritza ArreolaChallenges for first-generation-to-college low-income students arise early, asserts a board member of MVLA Community Scholars. Many of these young adults learned English while attending high school, and/or worked to help support their families. Yet, their fine grades get them into good colleges. One mentor observes, “The dedication and work ethic of our Scholars is truly inspirational. They figure out 95% of issues on their own, but it helps to talk to someone else who has walked a similar path. That’s where we mentors can offer support. And, we’re pretty good cheerleaders for our Scholars during their college journey!”
This fall, MVLA Community Scholars is very proud to be helping 24 new Scholars with annually renewable scholarships and college mentors; and although college will certainly challenge them, they have the motivation and intellect to succeed, and we promise to be there…whenever they need us.

To learn more, donate or to volunteer visit
Carolyn Pierce-Whang

MVLA Community Scholars is a program of the Los Altos Community Foundation

Read more about the MVLA Community Scholars.



Twenty-Four New Scholars

Twenty four hope-filled faces are on their way to college thanks to

scholarships from MVLA Community Scholars. Let us introduce to you:


Yuriria Acevedo-Perez, Ion Blanari, Jesus Caballero, Gloria Carbajal,

Rosa Carrera, Jennifer Corona, Selina Ellis, Jessica Fernandez, Barbara

Garcia, Estefani Gomez Pacheco, Dafne Hernandez, Arely Leon,

Kathleen Maeda, Marco Martinez, Carlos Pacheco-Miranda, Roann

Pao, Oscar Ramirez, Liliana Rios, Victor Ruiz, Nisha Sharma, Karlwillie

Wilson, Lucy Xiao, and Stephanie Yau.


These students are bright. Their average GPA is 3.43. They are

committed to their schools and the community, with interests including glee

club, basketball, gymnastics, football, robotics, water polo, MV

Police Explorer, and helping seniors with technology.


They are all over-achievers; many are recent immigrants from the Philippines, India,

Mexico, China, (even Moldavia!) and English is their second language. They have worked in food service, at youth camps, and at retail stores to help support their



However, first and foremost, they are determined and ambitious students,

seeking degrees in engineering, computer science, law, nursing,

kinesiology, and environmental studies, to name just a few.  All will be the first in their generation to attend college, and with trained mentors plus yearly

renewable scholarship funds (depending upon academic performance), their likelihood of graduating, based on the performance of previous MVLA Community Scholars awardees, is most promising.

Over the years MVLA Scholars have attended and graduated from a wide range of colleges, including SFSU, UC Berkeley, SJSU, Foothill, Humboldt State, Santa Clara University, and UC Merced.


If you would like to help a local student in need, please contact us via


MVLA Community Scholars is a program of the Los Altos Community Foundation.


MVLA Community common scholarship application is live!

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The Mountain View – Los Altos Community Roundtable Common Scholarship Application is now live and ready for applicants!

Thanks to all of the school counselors who responded and will be the contact for any students applying for scholarships being offered through the MV/LA Community Roundtable common scholarship application. Organizations offering scholarships through this online application are:


  • Rotary Club of Los Altos
  • Rotary Club of Mountain View
  • Kiwanis Club of Mountain View
  • Richard G. Bell Memorial Scholarship
  • MVLA Community Scholars

Quota International of Mountain View/Los Altos

Each scholarship will have individual criteria to be met, but all can be applied for through the single scholarship application. Details for each scholarship are listed under the scholarship names in the application. Not all scholarships are available to all high schools.

As in last year’s application, transcripts and recommendations are to be submitted as an electronic document (pdf, Word, etc.) after receiving the system generated transcript or recommendation request. Students will need email addresses for their school’s transcript department, as well as each person from whom they plan to receive a recommendation (2 are required, one from a teacher, the second from any other unrelated adult who knows the applicant). Their financial documentation and essay must also be electronically submitted.

They need not complete the application in one sitting; they can save and later re-login and continue.


MVLA Celebrates with Books

The MVLA Community Scholars held its 2011 Scholars Winter Celebration of Books on Dec 28, 2011.

Both the scholars and their mentors began the evening with a delicious dinner at PastaQ in Mountain View. Following the dinner, everyone strolled over to Books, Inc for some post-Xmas book shopping, socializing and desserts.

The scholars and mentors each received a $10 gift certificate to be used towards any book purchased that evening. And Books Inc. donated 20% of all proceeds to the MVLA Community Scholars.

MVLA Community Scholars improves the economic mobility and quality of life of local, high-potential, underserved youth by providing scholarships to make college accessible and individual mentoring to make a four-year degree achievable.

Who are Scholars?

  • 30% male/70% female
  • 36% two-year schools/64% four-year schools
  • 95% in state/5% out of state
  • 11% private colleges/89% public institutions
  • 92% in college/8%stopped out, but still in program
  • Average GPA 3.1
  • Average Household income: $35,000
  • 97% First generation in family to attend college