“A college education breaks the intergenerational cycle of poverty, as children of college graduates are nearly twice as likely to go to college themselves.”
Sub-Issue Area: Secondary Education
Fewer than half of low-income students in the United States enroll in college, even when academically qualified to do so. This means that every year, some 200,000 students who could succeed in college do not enroll, missing their best chance to break the cycle of poverty.
The Skoll Awardee: A product of inner city schools in Denver, J.B. Schramm saw many of his peers not going on to college, even though colleges were eager to enroll students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. Seeking to bridge this gap, J.B. became the director of a teen center in Washington, D.C. In 1993, he piloted the College Summit program, bringing four students to a college campus to identify where they might apply and complete their applications and essays with the guidance of college counselors. . Over the next few years he expanded on the idea, recruiting volunteer writing coaches and holding summer workshops for 140 students. 75 percent were accepted to colleges, giving J.B. the evidence he needed to found College Summit, Inc. The organization works to instill a college-going culture, provides data, and helps students build relationships with colleges and manage the application process. CS trains high school teachers to be college application managers and provides schools with a comprehensive curriculum and online tracking system to monitor student participation. Each school selects peer leaders from the junior class to participate in a four-day workshop at a college campus. Then, as veterans of the college application process, they inspire their peers to apply. CS also provides a comprehensive portfolio of “better than their numbers” college applicants to its partner colleges. At the time of the Award, CS had grown to serve about 5,000 students each year.
Impact since joining the portfolio in 2006:
- College summit has grown to serve 50,000 students in 12 states each year.
- Partner schools have increased their college enrollment rates by 25 percent.
- Four out of five students selected by College Summit as peer leaders enroll in college.
- Three quarters of College Summit students continue through the sophomore year, a key indicator of likelihood of earning a degree.
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