College Bus: Driving LA’s LowIncome Youth Towards a College Education
“A Bresee college trip changed my life by making me decide to go to college,” describes Fonda Whitehead, a Bresee alumna who went on a college trip in 1988. “No one in my family had attended college, but that trip made it a reality for me.” Fonda, who has now worked at Bresee for 16 years, describes what has become a common story at Bresee; the story of how a simple college trip can change lives. Bresee proposes a full-service college prep program that systematically targets the entire 450-member student body of Central City Value High School (CCVHS), a local charter school. Every student will board Bresee’s newly renovated, 25-passenger College Bus, and spend a full day touring a local college. That’s just the beginning. Throughout the school year, every student will have the opportunity to take their college dreams a step further by enrolling in: • A-G requirement workshops for 9th grade • PSAT classes for 10th grade • PSAT and SAT prep, remedial CAHSEE prep and personal statement workshops for 11th grade • SAT prep, scholarship boot camps, FAFSA completion, and the opportunity to apply for a needs-based College Bus scholarship for the 12th grade Programs will be available on the school’s campus, for free, to all students. This is a pilot program that is scalable and can be replicated at other schools in our community. What if by 2050, every student in Los Angeles (LA) was afforded the same opportunity, the opportunity to overcome educational barriers and go to college? Join us on the campaign. Get aboard the College Bus.
What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?
Some of Bresee's most important achievements to date include:
- Awarding over 100 students
Bresee is proud
Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.
Bresee will continue its two-year partnership with CCVHS, a charter school one block away. In 2012, CCVHS’ graduation rate was 83%. Only 38% of graduates went to a 4-year college and 52% completedThe the A-G Requirements. With one college counselor, CCVHS is not equipped to provide college prep for all students. Given CCVHS’ record of academic gains, the College Bus is the ideal intervention to help CCVHS progress towards its goal of 75% of students going to college (CCVHS, November 2012).
Bresee will also partner with Tutor Ted to provide test preparation. Bresee will continue working with College Access Foundation, which contributes to Bresee’s scholarship fund, provides program support, and connects Bresee with training and networking.
Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?
The ultimate goal of the College Bus program is to intentionally prepare a full student body for college. This includes providing annual college trips to high schoolers using grade-specific curriculum and measuring improvement on grade-specific standards during the 2013-2014 school year (including A-G requirements, PSAT preparation, CAHSEE preparation, SAT preparation, personal statements, FAFSA, and scholarships). Bresee’s College Coordinator will work collaboratively with Tutor Ted and CCVHS’ College Counselor to collect, maintain, and analyze the evaluation data supporting the following outcomes quarterly:
100% of CCVHS Students (450) will:
• Visit a college campus on Bresee’s College Bus, as measured by a pre- and post-test collected using Google Docs.
• Set the goal of going to college, as measured by vision setting sheets, completed during the college tour.
• Receive a tour of the Bresee Foundation and an overview of its Youth Programs while on their college tour, as measured by pre- and post- tests.
95% of 9th grade participants will:
• Develop an A-G Completion plan to share with their College Counselor and parents will gain an understanding of college requirements, as measured by collected A-G Completion plans.
95% of 10th grade participants will:
• Improve on a PSAT practice test, as measured by pre- and post-tests collected by Tutor Ted.
95% of 11th grade participants will:
• Increase their scores on PSAT and SAT practice tests, as measured by pre- and post-tests collected by Tutor Ted.
• Demonstrate improvement on a CAHSEE practice test (if they haven’t already passed the CAHSEE), as measured by pre- and post-tests collected by two CCVHS teacher conducting remedial tutoring.
• Receive individualized feedback on their personal statement, as measured by attendance at personal statement workshops.
95% of 12th grade participants will:
• Increase their scores on a SAT practice test, as measured by pre- and post-tests collected by Tutor Ted.
• Complete or receive individualized assistance completing their FAFSA, as measured by attendance at FAFSA bootcamps.
• Submit or receive individualized assistance completing a scholarship application, as measured by attendance at scholarship bootcamps.
• Be eligible for the College Bus scholarship, as measured by College Bus program attendance and scholarship applications.
In addition to the outcomes based evaluation recorded above, students attendance at all of the workshops and tours will be tracked and analyzed to ensure that students take advantage of the full College Bus curriculum. While short-term successes can be seen through the numerical goals described above, the true mark of success will be that more students graduating from CCVHS will enroll in post-secondary education. This data will be monitored and tracked by CCVHS’ College Counselor. Additionally, success of the College Bus program on a whole will be demonstrated by replication of the program at other local schools.
How will your project benefit Los Angeles?
The College Bus will benefit LA by systematically ensuring that the most academically at-risk students are exposed to college, college-ready, and ultimately college-bound. This will immediately include exposing a full student body (450 students) to college and providing follow-up that results in A-G requirement completion; improved CAHSEE, PSAT, and SAT scores; and more college-ready students applying to college and enrolling with the necessary financial aid and scholarships. By piloting a scalable and replicable model, the impact of Bresee’s College Bus will not only be felt in our corner of the city, but eventually across LA. After successfully implementing this program at CCVHS, the model may be replicated by Bresee at any of the 10 high schools (with almost 11,000 students total) in a three-mile radius of Bresee. This would allow us to progress towards a day when all of the high school students in the Rampart area have been exposed to college and are college-ready. The model may also be adapted and replicated by other non-profits, to methodically ensure that all 1,632,427 students attending public schools in LA are college-ready.
majority of people that Bresee serves live in an area defined as the Rampart Gang Reduction Youth Development (GRYD) Zone. This is the most densely populated area in the city of LA, with an estimated 75,000 residents, the highest concentration of recent immigrants in LA and 805 active gang members, responsible for nearly one-quarter of the city’s gang-related crimes (Advancement Project, 2008). It is estimated that 90% or more of the students Bresee serves are at the low to very low-income level. The area has an unemployment rate of 11% (Urban Institute), compared to 6% countywide (2010 Census). The majority of the students that Bresee serves attend schools in the bottom 10% of schools statewide, with the lowest graduation rates in the city (California Department of Education, 2013), and only 25% of graduates complete necessary college prep coursework (Rampart GRYD Assessment, 2008). In 2012, 100% of Bresee’s scholarship recipients were the first in their family to go to college.
By targeting the most at-risk youth with college prep and exposure services, Bresee’s College Bus will create a culture of college-readiness in partner schools, resulting in a wave of students like Laura, an undocumented student who was hesitant about college due to finances. She got college prep through Bresee, earned a Bresee scholarship, and is now attending CalState, Dominguez Hills. Laura states, “Without Bresee, I wouldn’t be where I am today.” Or a wave of students like Mario, who attributes the 100-point increase in his SAT score, which landed him in his dream school (University of Oregon), to Bresee’s SAT class. When the College Bus program is replicated across the city, not only will there be more Laura’s and Mario’s, but there will be long-term implications on the economic and social climate of the city at large (see below).
What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?
In 2050, we envision a fleet of College Buses steering LA’s most academically at-risk youth from areas such as South Central, Compton, Watts, and East LA to college. The program would have spread throughout LA and be on the road to becoming a national best practice in college prep. The College Bus program would have raised a large scholarship endowment, to continue providing needs-based scholarships to students in LA. Reputable local colleges and universities such as UCLA and CalState LA would partner formally with the College Bus program, committing to enroll low-income students from underperforming schools in their programs.
By creating systematic change for full high schools, the economic and social fabrics of the communities served by the College Bus will reap long-term rewards. Having overcome barriers to higher education, College Bus alumni will become adults who have:
• A lower likelihood of unemployment; workers with their bachelor’s degree are more than half as likely to be unemployed (The Atlantic, 2013).
• Access to a broader job market; Nearly 60% of all jobs nationally require higher education (American Public Media, 2013).
• A better chance of increasing their income quintile; A college degree gives low-income children a 75% higher chance of increasing their income quintile (US Department of Education, 2012).
• A variety of social benefits, including being more likely to volunteer, vote, exercise, and have health insurance and pension (New York Times, 2010).
Students who overcome the limitations imposed by their neighborhood, educational, economic or family circumstances and go to college exemplify the vision of the College Bus program. This vision has been lived out by generations of Bresee alumni, including Bresee’s current College Coordinator, Chheav Em:
“I first heard about Bresee’s college trip from my high school tennis coach [at Belmont High School.] She learned about the trip and suggested that I go. My parents always emphasized the importance of education. Although I didn’t know a whole lot about college, I always planned on going. On the college trip, I learned that college is all about independence and freedom. The trip showed me that there was a world out there that I knew nothing about and I was excited to be a part of it. One of the biggest impacts of this trip was the exposure to a small liberal arts university in Nampa, Idaho, a school I never would’ve considered attending but ended up going to. I looked at it as an opportunity to really experience something new. I got my degree in social work so that I could learn more about how to serve the youth and their families.”
The same College Bus that shaped Chheav’s future will now shape the lives of hundreds of youth in her neighborhood and the city at large. The ultimate goal is that in 2050, all students in LA public schools will overcome their barriers to higher education and graduate from high school college-ready and college-bound.