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College Summit

J.B. Schramm, CEO
Washington, D.C.
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College education is the key determining factor in professional success, and the most effective way to break the cycle of poverty in a family. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a worker with a bachelor’s degree earns nearly $1 million more over his or her lifetime compared with someone with only a high school diploma. Yet, every year nearly 200,000 college-capable high school graduates from low-income families do not enroll in college; they do not even apply.

College Summit, a national, school-wide college access program, equips schools and districts with tools and support to increase the college enrollment rate of all students, with a particular emphasis on those from low-income backgrounds. Since 1993, College Summit has built its tools and expertise around motivating and managing students through the post-secondary transition in the following ways:

  • Providing educators with professional development that provides them with resources for guiding students to post-secondary success, with a focus on building a college-going culture in their schools.
  • Offering a year-long curriculum that provides step-by-step roadmap for post-secondary success.
  • Equipping influential students with the tools and leadership skills to navigate the college application process and build a college-going culture at their schools.

About fifteen percent of the rising senior class attends a four-day workshop on a college campus where they get a head start on college applications by learning how to effectively write a personal statement, meet one-on-one with a guidance counselor, learn the basics of financial aid and gain concrete skills in self-advocacy. Armed with real experience, these students then return to their schools and spread their knowledge and enthusiasm to their peers.

  • Delivering college enrollment data to school leaders.

College Summit meticulously tracks progress and delivers data to educators. By sharing ongoing measurement and analysis, College Summit empowers educators to innovate and make course corrections mid-stream, to maximize college-going in their schools.

To date, more than 20,000 students have participated in College Summit's program at schools across the country. Additionally, more than 1,000 educators have been trained in college application management and College Summit’s own Navigator curriculum. High schools partnering with College Summit have achieved significant school-wide college enrollment increases over baseline.

College Summit’s proven strategy engages critical stakeholders across the community, resulting in an approach that embeds systemic, scalable, and enduring change. Central to its work are meaningful partnerships with schools, districts, colleges and supporters that go far beyond financial investments. A national partnership with Deloitte, for example, leverages their intellectual capital and core competencies by focusing on skills-based volunteering, development of a scalable database capable of accurately measuring and reporting high-volume college enrollment rates and board service in regions across the country. Capital One, another national partner, recently provided the same intensive management training to all College Summit managers that it provides to its own leaders.

At the turn of the century, our nation was in the process of making high school graduation an outcome for every student. At the time, that was a bold thought -- one that seems obvious now. In 2007, many observers, including some within the education milieu, believe that college readiness is for some students and not others. As a nation, we maintain that posture at our peril. Whether or not all students make it to college, it simply must be the case that no student is denied the chance because a high school environment doesn’t drive to college readiness. College Summit is a capacity builder for schools and districts, providing practical tools for the growing number of superintendents and principals who embrace this view.