'The Chain Reaction' program helps students pay for AP exams, college application fees

CHATSWORTH, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The financial uncertainty amid the pandemic is taking a toll on students, especially those who have dreams of pursuing higher education. That's where a local program comes in to help teens explore their options after graduation.

A college education is a huge investment for many families in Southern California. Taking the Advanced Placement or AP exams and filling out college applications is also a huge expense - expenses that many families simply cannot afford. The Los Angeles-based philanthropic group "The Change Reaction" donated $25,000 to Chatsworth Charter High School to help students pay for their AP exams and college applications fees.

"And the way we do that is we invest in people," said Wade Trimmer, The Change Reaction. "Specifically investing in Angelenos. Last year we invested in nearly 5,000 Angelenos and almost $5 million."



The pandemic has taken its toll on many families trying to make ends meet. The added cost of taking exams and applying to colleges can be an overwhelming expense.

"It's difficult to ask parents to make that choice. Do I put food on the table? Do I pay for the baby's this or that or whatever? And then shell out $95 for the AP exam and not just one. A lot of them are taking two or three AP exams. That's a lot of money," said Dr. Tim Guy, Chatsworth Charter HS Principal.

Many universities in Southern California are tuition free for families whose household income is below $80,000. The Change Reaction's donations help kids pay for what's required to apply to get into these schools.

"Middle class families don't qualify for financial aid and that's why this program is even better. Many of the students here at Chatsworth High School are in need of assistance. Unfortunately the lack of payment for an AP exam or college application may jeopardize the path of many talented students looking to further their higher education," said student Maya Darghali.

The return on investment will be seen in a few years when the students receive their college diplomas.

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Public school enrollment dropped by an unprecedented 160,000 students in California this year. Many still enrolled haven't been showing up. Officials say communication and outreach are keys to improving education systems for both the near future and post-pandemic.

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