East Bay students learn valuable lessons in school trip fundraising efforts

A group of East Bay high school students is planning to take a big important trip this Spring to the nation's capitol. But the trip to learn about the U.S. Government may not happen if the students don't get some much needed financial help.

At Richmond High School, students are aiming high in their education. "I really want to experience something new. It's a good experience like first hand," said sophomore Elmer Fuentes.

Fuentes and three of his school mates explained to KTVU that they are all eager to head to Washington, DC in April as part of a school trip called Close Up. "Learn different kinds of bills and rights... and especially for us, school... students that are in high school don't really know their rights. So, I think going to Washington will help us find out what our rights are," said junior Esperanza Alvarado.

But there's a good chance the trip won't happen, because the group needs to raise $20,000 in just the next few weeks to pay for it.

"I've actually gone down door to door in my community and asked for help and trying to see if they're willing to help me out," explained Alvarado.

She says some people have not just said no, they have slammed their doors in her face. "But then there's actually people who really do help you. I find that as a motivation because you get to interact with your community, and see that they're interested in actually, our education."

This trip will be educational in terms of life experience. "We have 13 students going and I think only two have been on a plane, so this is going to be pretty awesome," said Close Up program organizer, Valerie Estrada.

The students plan to tour Congress and the White House and see the nation's monuments. And they want to meet some political leaders maybe including Attorney General Loretta Lynch who visited Richmond last year.

"Not a lot of people will look like our kids in Congress, but some and they'll be able to see that could be me, and I can shoot for this to make a difference in my community," said Teacher and Close Up Chaperone, Maddie Schmalz.

School clerk and Richmond High grad Luis Mazarihuos took this trip 13 years ago. "The White House. I never thought in my life that I would go to the White House," he exclaimed.

A staff member for East Bay Assemblyman Tony Thurmond was a student at Richmond High School, and attended the Close Up program. Clearly something that helped shape his future career.