Jun 22, 2018

NGPF Podcast: Tim Talks To Melissa Fries About Running An Effective College Access and Success Program

 Melissa Fries has dedicated nearly two decades to ensuring students are equipped with the skills they need to thrive in the future. Initially recruited by her professor as a volunteer for the Making Waves Foundation, Melissa’s enthusiasm for the program has helped shape her to become their Executive Director of the College & Alumni Program. Hear how she, along with her team, enable low income youth to and through college and on to meaningful careers.


  • 0:00–1:04 Introduction
  • 1:05–3:40 Melissa’s increasing commitment: from a volunteer to Executive Director
  • 3:41–6:40 Learning money management the hard way
  • 6:41–10:10 Getting a first generation student to and through college
  • 10:11–13:15 Biggest myths and misconceptions about costs & financial aid
  • 13:16–16:51 Dealing with and managing student debt
  • 16:52–20:27 Managing time to achieve success
  • 20:28–20:54 A word from NGPF
  • 20:55–25:32 How the program has evolved over the years
  • 25:33–27:03 How to facilitate those difficult conversations about college
  • 27:04–28:58 The wavemakers on campus
  • 28:59–31:42 Going above and beyond for their alumni
  • 31:43–32:58 Engaging with students using technology
  • 32:59–33:23 Best thing bought for under $10
  • 33:24–34:07 The uplifting message she’d send her students
  • 34:08–36:30 Most inspiring success stories—really, all of them!
  • 36:31–37:02 Favorite book recommendations
  • 37:03–38:16 Conclusion

Resources mentioned:


  • “I think one of the reasons why financial literacy is such a component in what we’re doing is from my own background in not having any money management lessons.”
  • “9:30 ish When you’re deciding to go to college, you’re 17 or 18 years old. You might not even have a bank account, you’ve probably never paid a bill, and you’re at this point being asked to make a decision about more money than you family’s ever spent on any one thing.”
  • “[Families] shouldn’t have any sense of shame [when it comes to discussing college costs]. Money… doesn’t define who we are… It’s important for me to make people understand that this is something outside of ourselves.”


About the Authors

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

Danielle Bautista

Danielle is a native of Southern California and a recent graduate from the University of Maine, where she braved the frigid winters—a feat in and of itself—and earned her Bachelor's degree in International Affairs. She has a passion for working with non-profit organizations and serving populations in underprivileged communities. When Danielle isn't writing NGPF blog posts, spearheading various outreach projects, or managing contests and flash surveys, you can find her doing some sort of outdoor activity, learning a new hobby, or cracking what she thinks are witty puns!

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