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College Summit Inc.: Winner's Statement

Social Capitalists

College Summit Inc.

Washington, DC

CEO: J.B. Schramm

Previous winner: 2004, 2005

What it does: High-school seniors from low-income schools who get As enroll in college at the same rate as wealthy kids who get Ds. College Summit aims to change that by training "peer leaders" to motivate and assist fellow students through the college-application process. It also works to inform colleges about the challenges students from underperforming schools face--and then facilitates college placements.

Results: Currently serving 72 schools and more than 6,000 students, College Summit hopes to expand nationwide by 2008 and to halve the enrollment gap between low-income Americans and all students by 2009.

Social impact: B+
Aspiration and growth: B+
Entrepreneurship: B
Innovation: B+
Sustainability: A-

Winner's Statement

College Summit transforms America's low-income communities through increased college enrollment.

College Summit is the brainchild of J.B. Schramm, who saw as a senior at an inner-city Denver high school that many of his friends weren't going on to college - not for lack of ability, but because they were without the support systems to navigate the transition process.

Since 1993, College Summit has provided an integrated college access solution by addressing four systemic gaps:

(1) Build a college-going culture in schools by training influential student "Peer Leaders" to produce college applications themselves and to support fellow students throughout the application process;

(2) Provide high schools with a College Transition Management System to ensure every student has a "manager" in the college application process;

(3) Develop a data pipeline between high schools and colleges around the country, facilitating holistic review of students who are "better than their numbers"; and

(4) Provide high schools with the ability to measure key metrics, and use that data to inform mid-year school improvements.

College Access in America: The student who is first in his family to go to college ends poverty in his family line, forever. He'll earn an additional $1 million over the course of his career. And his children will be almost twice as likely to enroll themselves. Every year in the United States, 200,000 low-income youth graduate from high school ready for college - but do not enroll. Data from the Congressional Advisory Committee on Financial Assistance shows that high school seniors from the low-income quartile who score As on achievement tests enroll in college at the same rate as the students from the top income quartile who get Ds.

College Summit works system-wide: Most American teens heading to college rely on two types of adults: (1) expert counselors, who can disseminate college information to hundreds of students; and (2) non-expert, college-experienced parents, who help students stay on track through the complicated college application and matriculation process. In low-income communities, where most parents have not been to college, the second role - the "college application manager" - is missing.

College Summit responds by strengthening high school guidance and application management systems for all seniors. Building off the effectiveness of the Summer Workshops and the energy and experience of the Peer Leaders, College Summit trains teachers to fill the college application "manager" role for all seniors during a regularly-scheduled (usually once a week) College Summit class throughout the senior year. Key tools include:

  • College Summit "Navigator" curriculum, which empowers students to take control of this major transition by providing step-by-step guidance, and its curricular companion for teachers (made possible by a growth capital investment from Morgan Stanley).
  • "CSNet," College Summit's online application system, enables teachers to track progress of each student and facilitates the production of students' application portfolios.

College Summit is results-focused: College Summit has worked with nearly 6,000 student Peer Leaders to date, and over 10,000 students including the senior year model. The mid-tier Peer Leaders (average high school GPA: 2.85) have enrolled in college at a rate of 79 percent (versus a national of average of 46% for low-income high school graduates). Moreover, 80 percent of these students have stayed in college, outstanding for any demographic.

College Summit's business model is market-based: College Summit's fundamental insight is that low-income talent is undervalued. Like the private sector, the organization seeks to correct market inefficiencies - ensuring that the value of the young people can be realized in a way that serves the self-interest of community institutions.

College Summit has developed a "give-get" model that aligns the assets of high schools, colleges, philanthropy, and employers against their respective needs, bringing significant resources to bear on a community-wide college access model. By focusing on generating fees-for-service, College Summit not only makes progress toward self-perpetuating scale, but also focuses on improved programmatic success with our student, school, and college customers.

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The above Winner's Statement was provided by the profiled organization.