More than a game

Diana Guerrero helps raise money for her college tuition and the program by working as a stadium vendor at ball games throughout the year.

Diana Guerrero helps raise money for her college tuition and the program by working as a stadium vendor at ball games throughout the year.

Diana Guerrero is participating in the University of San Diego Journalism Mentorship Program, which pairs high school students with college journalism majors attending USD.

On any given football Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium, a group of high school students can be found working hard to pay for college while the Chargers are battling on the field.

The students are employed by Juma Ventures, a nonprofit youth-development endeavor in City Heights that provides part-time jobs and college-preparation services. Students’ earnings are theirs to spend, but Juma Ventures will match what is put into a college savings account on a 3-to-1 basis, meaning a student who socks away $1,000 will have $4,000 for college.

Juma also provides participants with SAT prep workshops and school tutoring.

Qualcomm Stadium isn’t the only venue where students can earn cash for college. Juma also has agreements with Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Chula Vista and Valley View Casino Center in San Diego. Juma’s biggest earnings, though, come from San Diego Chargers games. And the threat of the team moving to Los Angeles has caused some unease among students.

Juma officials are optimistic. “We’re more interested in looking at the bright side,” said Eddy Ontiveros, a manager at the nonprofit.

Ontiveros points out that the new San Diego Gulls hockey team offers untapped opportunity, while he also noted that Juma has been trying to secure a contract with the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.

“Juma is always about scaling San Diego,” Ontiveros said. “We will always make our current location work, a hundred percent.”

Juma operates in five other cities: San Francisco, Seattle, New Orleans, New York and Oakland.