Best College Aid - 2009
Arizona legislators (and governor!), take note. We're got a living, breathing example of just how much good a little bit of public money can do for students. Housed in a beautiful new center in the Burton Barr Central Library, designed by the library's original architect, Will Bruder, College Depot houses two full-time college counselors, 25 computers, a conference room, and a series of workshops on every college entrance exam imaginable. It's everything that you need (short of cold, hard cash and bedding) to get yourself to college — whether you speak Spanish or English and are 16 or 60. Oh, and it's free. Deborah Dillon, director of education programs, came up with the idea and spent three years raising $1 million to fund it. She got a $550,000 grant from the city of Phoenix; the rest came from various charitable organizations. Talk about a power player. With a central location in the library — already an after-school hub, with a teen center — College Depot has the chance to become a major force of change for low-income and Latino students in the Valley. This is a place to come use the Internet when you don't have a computer at home, or get help deciphering the bureaucratic blather on a financial aid application when your parents don't speak English. (Or, for that matter, when they do.) It's a program we hope others will study closely.