Alison De Lucca
Alison’s passion for higher education attainment was sparked as child growing up in an agricultural region. Her mother was an independent counselor who provided college guidance services to those who could afford it, while offering pro bono support to those who couldn’t – namely the children of migrant workers. Over the course of a decade, she witnessed how her peers and community were transformed by the increase in college degrees.
As the Executive Director of SoCal CAN, Alison works with more than 70 organizations to expand college access and completion for low-income students in the region. The network plays an important role in the field by bringing together direct service organizations to exchange effective practices, address existing service gaps, and weigh in on policies and practices that help or hinder students’ ability to smoothly reach their goal of college graduation.
Alison has worked on social change issues in both the United States and Central America for more than 20 years. She’s worked in the women’s, environmental, and immigrant rights fields. Prior to joining SoCal CAN, she worked as Program Officer for the Los Angeles Funders’ Collaborative, Program Director for Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, Campaign Director for Friends of the Earth International, and Women’s Micro-enterprise Developer for the Costa Rican Ecologist Association.
Alison graduated from University of California, San Diego (UCSD) with a B.A. in International Development and received her M.A. in Urban Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA ). She is bilingual in English and Spanish and has served as an appointed member of the UCLA Department of Urban Planning Advisory Committee, an emeritus board member of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy, and a fellow with the Women’s Policy Institute and the City Scholars Foundation. Most recently she became a board member of BlacklistLA and was selected to be a fellow with the California Education Policy Fellowship. Connect with Alison on LinkedIn.
Director of Learning and Collaboration
Saru brings her deep commitment to social justice, educational equity, and to college access and success to the SoCal CAN team. Her professional expertise centers around finding innovative models to pursue social missions and her passion lies in identifying and addressing the systemic roots of inequality. Prior to joining SoCal CAN, Saru worked with a network partner providing services to college access programs across the region. She also serves on the Board of Directors for member organization College Access Plan in Pasadena.
Born in Canada and raised in Ohio, Saru earned her BA in English Literature from The Ohio State University in 2006. After volunteering with a grassroots international organization in Nepal, she took a position with the US federal government before returning to oversee projects at an orphanage in Kathmandu. From there, Saru took a direct-service position in children’s mental health, working with adolescents on the Autism Spectrum in a residential environment.
In 2009, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her Masters degree in Public Administration, with a focus in nonprofit management. In Southern California, Saru found her community, and here she refined her interests in child welfare, social justice, and in educational equity. After beginning her board service, she entered the field of college access and success, which she sees as a truly intersectional landscape with great potential to demonstrate social impact. While there is much work to be done, she is beyond grateful for the opportunity to work with such a dynamic and supportive community in service of such a valuable mission. Connect with Saru on LinkedIn
Changemakers Fellowship Manager
Marcos designed the SoCal CAN Changemakers Fellowship and is currently overseeing the program. He is a recent graduate from Cal State LA with a BA in Political Science. He is the first in his family to graduate from a university. Marcos brings a wealth of knowledge around student engagement and student advocacy. He served two years at Cal State LA’s student government and one year as Vice President of Legislative Affairs for the Cal State Student Association. During his time as a student, he was very passionate about improving college affordability, increasing civic engagement, and supporting undocumented students. He received numerous awards commending his work as a student leader including 2017 CSSA Student Advocate of the Year and a State Resolution from the CA Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon in May 2018. Marcos has years of legislative experience, student advocacy, and institutional change.
Project Soar Education Navigator
Stephanie received her Masters of Science in Higher Education Administration from Syracuse University in 2015. Her passion is to increase the support for disadvantaged students, especially those of first-generation and low-income, by guiding them to pursue higher education. “As an Education Navigator, I would like to support our youth and provide as much support, resources, and create inclusive college access and avenues of affordability for the students.” Assigned Site: William Mead Homes and Ramona Gardens Contact: Stephanie@socalcan.org
Project Soar Education Navigator
Enrique is currently pursuing his Masters of Arts in Education in California State University, Long Beach. His goal is to increase the number of students from underrepresented communities to go to college and equip them with the tools and information they need to enhance their success. “I’m thrilled to serve Nickerson Gardens as the Education Navigator to support students in their pursuit of higher education and highlight the talent and potential the community has to prosper.” Assigned Site: Nickerson Gardens Contact: Enrique@socalcan.org
Project Soar Education Navigator
Maria grew up in Avalon Gardens. After graduating from Smith College, she is back in her community to help HACLA implement the Project SOAR Program. “It’s fulfilling coming back to my community through Project SOAR. I am excited because I know the services we will provide are invaluable and tailored to every student’s needs.” Assigned Site: Avalon Garden and Gonzaque Village Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Level Up Intern
Paolina is a rising senior at Pitzer College pursuing a major in Organizational Studies with a minor in Studio Art. Based in Chino, CA Paolina is the first in her family to attend college. She co-runs the First Gen Club on her campus working towards building a community where students have a strong support system in place while navigating college. As a Level Up intern she hopes to learn programming and leadership skills applicable to improving her role on campus.
Level Up Intern
Petrona is a rising third year at UC Santa Barbara. She is currently pursuing a double major in Sociology and Feminist Studies with a minor in Black Studies. She’s actively involved with the Women Center on campus and will be serving as a student programmer this upcoming school year. She hopes to use her education and experiences to raise awareness about the educational disparities communities of color face. As a Level Up Intern, she hopes to provide college students with the resources needed to complete and thrive in higher education
Ana is currently studying Political Science at the University of Southern California. She grew up in Historic Filipinotown/ Echo Park and now lives in Boyle Heights. She is an advocate for students and supports higher education. She has mentored and tutored youth through volunteering at Evergreen elementary school and Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Courthouse. Born and raised in the city of angels, she has seen and experienced social injustice. Ana is compassionate about the people living in her community because she knows the struggles they endure daily. She is part of a group called “We Can Make A Difference LA”, they collect and donate hygiene products and clothing for the homeless communities living on Skid Row. She also served for one year on the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council Board. She strives to have inclusiveness and justice for her community. Once she graduates USC, she hopes to attend law school.
Maria is a rising junior at UCR pursuing a major in Sociology. She has been a mentor for first generation students like herself at her campus and continues helping this population by interning at Level Up. At Level Up she hopes keep developing the curriculum to serve first generation students, specifically she hopes to expand the resources offered to undocumented students.