Annabelle Reyna’s family was thrilled when she earned an academic scholarship to attend Our Lady of the Lake University, but they were unsure how they would afford room and board fees, not to mention all the necessary dorm supplies. 

During Reyna’s senior year at Burbank High School, in the San Antonio Independent School District, her college advisor recommended she seek a scholarship from the SAISD Foundation. After a lengthy application process, she received $1,000 dollars to cover room fees — and an invitation to a send-off event on July 22 that includes a free “dorm living essentials” package from the foundation. 

“It opened up an option to afford my dorm next year,” said Reyna. “It is something that I have always wanted to experience, but financially I was pushing it there. But with this scholarship, I have paid off my first year in the dorm.”

On Wednesday, the SAISD Foundation hosted a Luggage & Dorm Room Drive, collecting college living essentials it will distribute to 120 recent SAISD alumni. The first drive, held in 2019, just collected luggage — dorm items were the new addition this year. As a part of the initiative, the foundation invited the broader community to donate new or new-like items and money. The monetary goal — the foundation is still accepting donations — is $5,000 dollars, to purchase college dorm items for this cohort of college-bound students.

During the July 22 send-off event, students will be given tacos, gift cards for H-E-B and gas, a foundation t-shirt, and a big pile of dorm room essentials, including items like bedding, towels, pillows, blankets, laundry hampers, detergent, and more. 

Carrie Smith, SAISD Foundation’s alumni and community engagement manager, said she wants students to know that in this critical time their local community is behind them.

“We really wanted to send these kids off with everything they possibly need, giving them the best send-off to college,” she said. 

The group of 120 students all secured a scholarship or financial support from the foundation in 2021, “qualifying” them for the dorm drive packages. The Foundation website lists more than 20 scholarships, all of which aim to reduce barriers for students starting their college careers. 

Students who are a part of the foundation’s remote mentorship program are also eligible for the drive dorm room items. That program kickstarted last year with funding from Valero. It matched rising freshmen in college with working professionals to provide them with guidance and perspective on university life, academics, and numerous career paths.

“I have been getting photos from a mentor meeting his mentee at Starbucks and getting them involved in quantum computing — it’s really cool! Just extra support for getting them through their first year of college,” said Smith. 

Some mentors and mentees will be meeting each other in-person for the first time during the send-off event next week.

Polina Protozanova

Polina is a Shiner Editorial Intern for the San Antonio Report.