Last month I listened in on a Catalytic Women Strategies & Solutions discussion, and had the pleasure of hearing how three organizations are working with disadvantaged youth to provide educational equity. Many might feel daunted by the task of how best to ensure access to, and success in, college for these kids. Not true! Our expert panelists, Denni Brusseau, Kim Cook and Traci Lanier, spoke about being a step ahead of the shifting needs of students and ,most importantly, about their success in mentoring students through the completion of college.
Denni Brusseau is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Bridge the Gap College Prep (BTGCP). This organization pairs caring adults with disadvantaged youth in Marin City, California. Doing so allows BTGCP to provide comprehensive educational support enabling students to both complete high school and graduate from college. Their message – their belief – resonated loud and clear. “Education is the greatest equalizer between bridging the gap between poverty and the affluent.”
Traci Lanier, Vice President of 10,000 Degrees, believes providing exposure, accurate information, guidance and support creates change. The goal at 10,000 Degrees is to create college graduates who change the world. In order to encourage their students to give back, they provide a platform for students to pair their stories of need with stories of success. They’ve found that being a catalyst for this exchange, and giving students the chance to tell their story, provides hope.
Kim Cook is Executive Director of the Washington, DC based National College Access Network. NCAN is an umbrella organization with the goal of providing their members with tools and resources to ensure their programs’ success – and their students’ college completion. In order to do this NCAN stays up to date on the evolving needs of students and, in turn, trains others in best practices. NCAN’s members are those organizations serving first generation college graduate students.
What can you do to bridge the gap of educational disparity? How can a modest investment help these programs’ effectiveness? I’ll let the panelists’ suggestions speak for themselves:
Denni – Students are in a stage of fright or flight. Help lower stress and provide a supportive learning environment. This organization provides academic after school program support and pairs caring adults with disadvantaged youth in Marin City, California. Doing so allows BTGCP to provide comprehensive educational support enabling students to both complete high school and graduate from college. Their message – their belief – resonated loud and clear. “Education is the greatest equalizer in bridging the gap between poverty and the affluent.” Here’s what you can make possible: $135 provides one week of after school support for a child; $500 provides one month; $5000 supports a student’s needs for an entire year. For more information go to http://www.btgcollegeprep.org.
Traci – Did you know that students are required to submit a deposit to colleges upon being accepted? State Universities in California require a $650 deposit to secure an accepted student’s space. A gift to cover that cost has a very tangible impact. More information is at www.10000degrees.org.
Kim – Many organizations doing this good work of empowering communities and providing educational support do not have it in their budget to become a NCAN member! Help underwrite a membership for as little as $250 by going to NCAN’s website www.collegeaccess.org.