As freshman Giovanni Rosales walks across the campus of California State University, Northridge, he observes two types of students.

“I can actually see the difference between an AVID student and a regular student because you see their motivation and determination to be successful,” he said.

Moorpark Unified School District’s AVID program, or Advancement Via Individual Determination, supports minority students in their journey to college. Project College Bound, a component of the AVID program, serves Latinos like Rosales who show academic potential and who are the first in their families to attend college.

Project College Bound received a $20,000 grant in 2013 from Destino: The Hispanic Legacy Fund, its second grant from the VCCF fund.

“Destino’s focus for the next several grant cycles is college preparedness for Latino students. When we saw such achievement by Project College Bound students in the past school year, the grants committee felt the youth served by this program are in good hands and are truly being set up for academic success,” said Hank Lacayo, a VCCF board member and co-chair of the Destino committee.

Project College Bound guides Latino students from their freshman to senior years of high school. The program offers SAT and ACT preparation, workshops in financial assistance and coping mechanisms when children leave their family to follow their dreams, as well as scholarship research and field trips to colleges.

In the 2011-2012 academic year, Project College Bound served 148 Latino students at Moorpark High. In the 2013-2014 school year, the program anticipates assisting 192 students.

“The program has been steadily growing and our AVID team has a concise plan to identify students who will best benefit from the AVID program,” said Melinda Froelich, a mathematics and AVID educator at Moorpark High School. “I have been told time and again from parents that they don’t know how they would have helped their child get to college because they didn’t know the path.”

Students, Froelich said, tell her they joined AVID because it seemed like a family and it looked like fun.

“But the real reward was learning how to accomplish their dreams. These students are brave. They are accomplishing what no one in their family ever has before,” she said.

That is Rosales’ story. The youngest of five, he is the first of his family to go to college.

“If it wasn’t for AVID, I wouldn’t be at a four-year university,” said Rosales of Moorpark. “The program helped me find resources I can use to my advantage. You really become knowledgeable about universities. That is what they are setting you up for – success.”