NEW: Virtual Programs

JOYA has transitioned to virtual programs to engage with students through the Covid-19 crisis. Our main focus is to support students during this challenging time. Click here to learn more.


A popular misconception is that working-class students who succeed in college do so as a result of sheer individual determination and hard work. According to Dr. Roberta Espinoza, a professor of sociology at Pitzer College, Claremont, Calif., and author of “Pivotal Moments: How Educators Can Put All Students on the Path to College” (Harvard Education Press, 2011), nothing can be further from the truth:

Low income minority students who overcome obstacles to achieve academic success usually encounter at least one college-educated adult in their schooling who takes the initiative to reach out to them and provide concrete academic guidance.

By supporting students through one-on-one mentoring, JOYA Scholars comes alongside junior high and high school students to fill a relational and knowledge gap for students and their families for whom the school system can be a confusing and intimidating process to navigate.

Facilitated by our program coordinators, volunteer mentors meet with our students to discuss academic- and college readiness-related issues and to provide ongoing guidance and accountability on a bi-weekly basis.


We provide academic tutoring in areas such as math, language, and science.

For our junior high students, we offer homework assistance and tutoring in various subjects in order to prepare them for success in high school and eventually college.

For our high school students, we offer specialized tutoring in “a-g” coursework.

Experience tells us that, without academic support and a plan for higher education, kids from low-income communities are more susceptible to dropping out of high school, affiliating with gang life and qualifying for only low-paying work. By supporting our students through academic tutoring, our students are becoming college bound.

Tutoring in the Maple neighborhood takes place Monday-Thursday from 3:30-6:30pm.

Tutoring in the Garnet neighborhood takes place Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 3:30-7:30pm.

Parent Academy

Every year, Garnet Neighborhood parents are invited to participate in the annual Parent Academy Program. Julianna Hernandez, Parent Academy Instructor and Associate Director of Outreach, Recruitment and Orientation with CSUF, provides our parents with a series of bilingual classes designed to bring the college readiness conversation into the home.

Over the course of 10 weeks, parents learn various tools on how to prepare their children for college success. Topics such as college admissions, financial aid, and nationally administered standardized tests are among some of the items discussed.


Campus Visits

One of the most important areas when researching colleges is the campus visit. By visiting potential colleges, our JOYA Scholars get a firsthand impression of the students, faculty, staff, facilities, and programs. On a visit, we learn what the admission office is looking for in its applicants, meet with financial aid counselors, talk with students, and get a sense of the surrounding community.

Our campus visits generally take place in the fall and spring. Rather than just concentrate on local colleges, we survey the students and their parents, and schedule campus tours throughout California. Some of our visits in the past have included, UCSD, UCR, CSUF, Cal Poly Pomona, and Chapman University.

SAT Prep

The SATs are a make or break exam for high school students and for the majority of our JOYA Scholars, the standardized test can be quite daunting. As a result, we remind our students that preparing for the SAT is a marathon, not a sprint. Since it takes several months of comprehensive studying to prepare for the SAT, we build a weekly study routine and set realistic goals to better equip our juniors and seniors in their final years of high school.

As part of the study process, students take practice exams. Practice exams build stamina and mental toughness, two essential components in preparation for the SAT. In addition, students study vocabulary words, go over critical reading skills, and practice writing essays.

Thanks to our amazing and talented volunteers, our students can reach new heights through hard work and dedication.

Reality Changers College Apps Academy

Reality Changers’ College Apps Academy, in collaboration with JOYA, provides high school seniors with one-on-one support in navigating each step of the college application process, including the application itself, personal statement, financial aid and FAFSA, scholarship opportunities, college resources, and more. Meetings are held weekly on Wednesdays from 3:30-5:30pm.