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A Success Story for Improving Graduation Rates

Educators and policymakers are eager to know "what works" when it comes to helping low-income, underserved students graduate from high school and college.

The College Success Foundation appears to have found some answers.

The nonprofit foundation founded in 2000 in Washington state by Bob Craves and Ann Ramsey-Jenkins is a public-private partnership that provides mentoring, support, and scholarships for at-risk students in need. With programs in Washington state and the District of Columbia, the foundation has helped 11,000 students, providing some $107 million in scholarships and assistance.

In its 10-year anniversary report released today, the foundation shares its success story in helping students—whose family incomes are less than half that of their peers and who are overwhelmingly students of color.

The highlights:

•97 percent of CSF students graduated from high school, while nationally about 69 percent of all students, 51 percent of African-Americans, and 55 percent of Hispanics get their diplomas on time.

•68 percent of program participants who enrolled in a four-year college graduate. On average, about 39 percent of African-Americans complete college and 47 percent of Hispanics.

So, how do they do it?

Intervention starts early—and it's ongoing.

CFS works with students beginning in in 7th grade. In-school programs show students how to best prepare for college. Special care is given to help with the transition from middle to high school.

Mentors then guide high school students through the system with academic advising,college visits, career planning, and summer enrichment. Students receive financial help to make college more affordable. Advising continues on campus to help support students through college graduation and entering the job market.

It's encouraging to see a model that works. We can only hope that it is able to be replicated and help the many more students in need across the country.

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