learn / 2014

College Summit: Equipping 4800 Low-Income Student For Success in College and Career

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by College Summit Southern California

College Summit will provide comprehensive tools, services, and support to help 4,800 low-income students plan for college and career.


Please describe yourself.

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

College Summit will provide comprehensive tools, services, and support to help 4,800 low-income students plan for college and career.

Does your project impact Los Angeles County?

Yes (benefits a region of LA County)

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South Bay

What is your idea/project in more detail?

College Summit significantly impacts students who are college-capable and potentially the first in their families to enroll in college but lack the presence of college-experienced adults to help them with the college and financial aid application processes.

We will provide training to 150 Peer Leaders, who will fill a unique and critical role in promoting college-bound culture. Programming during the school year will include: professional development for educators, grades 9-12 curricula, customized data, and ongoing school site support. This project will positively influence the post-high school trajectory of 4,800 students during the 2014-15 school year.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

Across the 2014-15 school year, College Summit will partner with LA-area public schools to:

–Provide an in-school structure for every senior to develop a postsecondary plan –Impact college culture by serving students starting in the 9th grade –Deliver professional development for educators to deliver the College Summit curriculum –Uses data to manage, evaluate, and continually improve programming to drive success –Achieve consistent and verifiable results

Programming will include:

SUMMER 2014 • Student leadership training: Select rising seniors (Class of 2015) will attend our signature 4-day college-immersion Summer Workshops where they will be immersed in the college application process and trained as “Peer Leaders” to ignite a college-going culture in their schools. • Professional development and support for educators: Teachers and counselors responsible for implementing our curricula will attend our Educator Academy and become equipped to coach students from a college-savvy perspective and use our tools to collect data and track the application path of every senior.

SCHOOL YEAR • Innovative school-year curricula: 9th-11th grade students will receive our Launch program and be guided step-by-step through postsecondary preparation; seniors will benefit from our Navigator program by gaining the knowledge, confidence, tools, and support to identify their goals and plan for success beyond high school. • Support: Our School Partnership Managers will serve as a resource, helping educators create dynamic College Summit classroom experiences and supporting Peer Leader activities. • Actionable data: Our Milestone Reports will track student, classroom, and school progress toward achieving specific college enrollment goals are shared and discussed regularly to enable educators to proactively identify and respond to challenges and ensure optimal student success.

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to LEARN today? In 2050?

In today’s global economy, postsecondary education is increasingly vital to individual success, as well as to our country’s future. The knowledge, experience and skills attained through postsecondary education help sustain our workforce, which keeps the United States competitive in the global marketplace. There was a time when a high school diploma was all that was necessary to work at an auto plant or factory and earn enough to support a family. That time has passed.

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce report on educational concentrations of employment in the United States shows that by 2018, 67% of job openings in California will require applicants to have a post-high school education. Yet, in Los Angeles, Census data finds that only 59% of public school graduates go directly to college, and only half the adult population has earned a Bachelor’s degree or higher.

Whom will your project benefit?

Target population for 2014-15 is 4,800 low-income youth between the ages of 14-19 in the Greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. 70% of students served qualify for free/reduced meal plans (80% at most schools).

Students attend the following partner schools in the Los Angeles area: Academy of Science & Engineering Charter School; Academy of Scientific Exploration at Cesar E. Chavez Learning Academies; East Valley High School; Green Design Community School at Diego Rivera Learning Complex; Math, Science and Technology Magnet Academy at Roosevelt High School; Public Service Community School at Diego Rivera Learning Complex; Roosevelt High School; Thomas Jefferson High School; Arleta High School; APEX Academy; Arts, Theatre, and Entertainment School at Cesar E. Chavez Learning Academies; Communications and Technology School at Diego Rivera Learning Complex; Social Justice Humanitas Academy at Cesar E. Chavez Learning Academies; Sylmar High School; and Washington Preparatory High School.

College Summit helps students like Alexis Cardenas (Class of 2014, ArTES Academy in Los Angeles). “Before College Summit,” she says, “the question wasn’t whether or not I would go to college; it was always whether or not I’d care enough to finish…After high school, I actually just saw myself as working in some job I hated, studying something I disliked by night.” Then Alexia attended a College Summit workshop which helped her learn more about using college as a stepping stone to her future. Now, she says, “after realizing that everything I enjoy is indeed marketable in the work force, I became interested in going after my dreams.” Since returning to school in the fall, Alexia has recently been accepted into one of the eight schools to which she’s applied and is awaiting word from the others. However, what makes her most proud as a Peer Leader is having helped two of her friends who were on the fence about college to see its importance and apply; both, she is happy to report, have since been accepted into their first choice colleges.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

School Partners (listed above): Because of the embedded nature of our systemic model, strong partnerships with schools are necessary; we deliberately nurture relationships at multiple levels of leadership. Even when changes in personnel have occurred, we have been able to maintain our services because College Summit has become entrenched in the culture of schools.

Higher Education Partners: Deep relationships with the college/university partners that host our summer workshops create a vital bridge to postsecondary entry for students. Students greatly benefit from campus exposure, access to admissions counselors, and timely and relevant information and support. Our college partners, California Lutheran University and the University of Redlands, represent a network of higher education institutions across the country that have a shared mission to increase college access. By hosting our summer workshops, partners minimize our workshop costs and low-income students are introduced to their campuses and their students.

Significant corporate partnerships include: Deloitte brings expertise in managing and identifying areas of growth, fund development, and sponsorship of awards to honor the work of our partner schools; Darden Restaurants Inc., Foundation supports Peer Leader meetings at schools and Peer Leader awards. Collaborations provide access and information on grants and financial aid: Citi Foundation, Cash for College, Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Magic Johnson Foundation, and Junior Achievement. Community engagement: participating in the Valley Education Collaborative working on college access issues and policies in the San Fernando area; and assisting the Los Angeles Urban League in their efforts to increase the college enrollment of students in the Crenshaw corridor. The region has also formed more than 50 volunteering partnerships with local businesses, professional associations, and community groups to increase knowledge about college access issues and recruit volunteers from diverse backgrounds. College Summit has a pending application with the SoCal College Access Network (CAN), a regional network of 30+ college access organizations, to increase our visibility, identify us as a leader in the field, and provide access to resources, learnings, and best practices.

How will your project impact the LA2050 “Learn” metrics?

  • Percentage of community college students completing a certificate, degree, or transfer-related program in six years
  • Youth unemployment and underemployment
  • District-wide graduation rates
  • Academic Performance Index scores
  • College matriculation rates

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

The need for clearer pathways to and through college is dire. California ranks 18 out of the 20 most highly populated states in high school-to-college enrollment rates. With an 1,000:1 student-to-counselor ratio, California students are significantly shortchanged in guidance—especially critical for first-generation students who lack a college-educated adult in their family to help navigate the process.

Currently, only one in three low-income students enroll in college (NCES, The Condition of Education 2011). Worse, an alarming number of students do not complete high school. Los Angeles has one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the country with only 44% of local youth receiving diplomas (Cities in Crisis 2009 Report, America’s Promise Alliance). Census data finds only half the adult population in Los Angeles has earned a Bachelor’s degree or higher.

Our work is based on the conviction that many more students can enroll-and succeed-in college if they have access to well-timed information, tools, and guidance. College Summit provides students with these resources so they can effectively recognize and demonstrate their strengths, raise their expectations for what they can accomplish, and work toward accomplishing their goals.

College Summit partner schools report significant gains in college enrollment rates: 12-20% increases over baseline rates, on average. Of participants who enroll in 2- and 4-year colleges, 79% persist to the sophomore year and 74% persist to the junior year (on par with students from all income groups, according to National Student Clearinghouse data). Regionally, our partner schools increased their fall College Enrollment Rate (CER) by 4% compared to 2012. Morningside High had a 10% CER increase from the previous year and Sylmar and Arleta High Schools saw gains of 6% and 5% respectively.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

  1. 3,000 students in grades 9-11 explore and build competencies to prepare them to successfully navigate the college application process in their senior year.
  2. 1,800 seniors (Peer Leaders and the rest of the Senior Class of 2015) gain skills in organization, planning, and self-advocacy during the school year to help them graduate and reach their postsecondary destination.
  3. Approximately 150 rising seniors (Class of 2015) attend a four-day 2014 summer workshop where they become familiar with the college application process and be trained as Peer Leaders to inspire their classmates to aspire to college and help them through the steps to get there.
  4. Approximately 120 educators (teachers and counselors) learn to effectively deliver College Summit curricula through our eight-hour Educator Academy. This training prepares college-savvy educators to understand the unique needs of individual students, and to support them as they plan their postsecondary paths.

Student progress is monitored throughout the school year via the following leading indicators:

For 9-11 grade – Percent of students who create a CSNav account; complete a learning styles inventory, plan of study, the SAT test prep, a personal statement draft, the job interview practice, resume, the career plan builder and a practice application; save a career and at least one college choice to their portfolio.

For 12th grade – Completion of Senior-Year plan, college list, personal statement, resume, college applications submitted, taking the SAT/ACT and FAFSA filing.

Curriculum implementation by educators is evaluated in the fall and spring of each school year to assess programmatic successes and challenges and address evolving constituent needs. Evaluations are also conducted after each summer Peer Leader workshop and Educators’ Academy.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

  1. When College Summit was created in 1996 at a teen center in the basement of a low-income housing project in Washington, DC, the center’s director, J.B. Schramm, saw dozens of college-capable kids not even considering college. Many had survived difficult life circumstances – homelessness, neglect, caring for young siblings or ill parents – and had developed smart instincts and deep determination. But the students lacked the know-how and the belief that they could go to college. In his work with this small group of students, Schramm recognized that building their college knowledge was the easy part. Convincing students to believe they could go to college was far more of a challenge. Schramm realized that the person most influential to a 17-year-old was not a teacher or a parent, and certainly not their teen center director. It was another 17-year-old. As influential students overcame hurdles in the college admissions process, other students gained confidence, too. So Schramm, in collaboration with an experienced youth development specialist, created a workshop model that would leverage this power of peer influence.

  2. College Summit has learned to unleash the power of low income high school students to be change-makers for themselves, their schools, and communities through technology. Pioneered by College Summit students and the Los Angeles Unified School District, the App-a-thon format places local educators shoulder-to-shoulder with students who train them how to use technology to make the college-going process more transparent, collaborative, and easy to navigate for low-income and first generation students and their families.

The App-a-thon apps were developed in 2012, when College Summit joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Facebook to run a $2.5M challenge to incentivize top technology developers to design free or nearly free apps to help low-income students go to and through college. Using our expertise in the area of college success for low-income students, College Summit helped curate the best apps to make a comprehensive College App Map (www.CollegeAppMap.org), mapping the 19 winning, research-based apps along College Summit’s key student milestones that lead from 9th grade through college.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

College Summit has nearly 20 years of experience in the college access field. Since taking root in Southern California in 2002, more than 15,000 students in the Los Angeles metropolitan area have benefited. For its innovation and results, in 2012, College Summit was named to Forbes Magazine Impact 30 list of top global social entrepreneurs; recognized in 2010 by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for the top nonprofit-business partnership in the country (shared with Deloitte); five-time winner of the Social Capitalist Award from Fast Company Magazine; and founder J.B. Schramm was named “U.S. Social Entrepreneur of the Year” at the 2007 World Economic Forum in Davos.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

Working with new partners: Most of our veteran schools such as Arleta High, Morningside High, Inglewood High and Sylmar High continue to surpass each of the milestone categories compared to the previous year. However, it is typical for us to see schools experience growing pains in the first year of partnership. So we address this with several strategies, including assigning a School Partnership Manager to spend more time on the campus to continue individualized training and support the educators; and designating Peer Leaders to help work with younger students in Launch classrooms.

Budget and leadership challenges at schools: A shortage of school personnel makes it challenging to ensure that our program is consistently delivered in a way that addresses the needs of all students at various stages along the postsecondary path. Additionally, leadership transitions often affect the level of service in school. We continue to address these issues by enhancing our professional development and support for educators; strengthening our work with and support of Peer Leaders; and sharing best practices with other College Summit regions.

What resources does your project need?

  • Network/relationship support
  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Community outreach