Programs That Are Making A Difference
The programs listed below provide unique opportunities for students in various areas of the country, from various demographic backgrounds, and from various levels of schooling. The programs have a variety of selection criteria and deadlines.
The mission of A Better Chance is to increase substantially the number of well-educated young people of color who are capable of assuming positions of responsibility and leadership in American society. They carry out their mission through their College Preparatory Schools Program, which annually recruits, refers and supports about 500 Scholars at more than 300 Member Schools in 27 states. They have been opening the doors to greater educational opportunities since 1963 and more than 12,000 alumni have now gone on to distinguished careers as physicians, artists, educators, lawyers, politicians and corporate executives.
Prospective applicants should get started early; late applications are not encouraged as they severely limit opportunities for placements. Further, the application process begins one year prior to enrolling. For example, if a student is currently in the 8th grade, she or he would be applying for the 9th grade.
There are three major stages to the application process, each consisting of several small steps. Please go to the “How to Apply” page and follow each of the required steps.
The application deadline for the College Preparatory Schools Program is October 1.
The Arkansas Commitment Program attempts to identify academically talented African-American high school students throughout central Arkansas and assist these students in acquiring the knowledge, skills and professional experience necessary for effective community leadership. African-American students, 8th grade or higher, with a minimum 3.0 grade point average or above are invited to apply. The Program is open to African-American students from all high schools and school districts in the Central Arkansas area.
ASPIRA is a national organization working to further the interest of Hispanic youth. The ASPIRA Association, Inc. does not currently provide financial assistance, but attempts to direct Hispanic youth to organizations that might be able to help. If you an Hispanic youth and live in or near Miami, Florida; Chicago, Illinois; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Newark, New Jersey;Bridgeport, Connecticut; New York, New York, or Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico; you may want to contact the local ASPIRA offices in those cities. They may be able to provide you with more specific information on scholarship and financial possibilities.
The Breakthrough Collaborative is devoted to preparing high-achieving middle-school students, most of whom are of color and from low-income families, to enter and succeed in college-preparatory high school programs. Breakthrough also recruits and trains outstanding high school and college students to become Breakthrough teachers and build an interest in careers as educators.
Breakthrough students usually enter the program in the summer of their 7th grade year and continue until they graduate from high school. The student experience includes two 6-week, academically intense summer sessions, year-round support and tutoring, and ongoing-college preparation and assistance. Most Breakthrough students attend public schools.
Bright Prospect is located in Pomona, California and is focused on increasing the number of low-income students who enter and graduate from four-year universities. Their programs provide the counseling and guidance students need to gain admission to the best colleges they are qualified for with the financial aid they need, and also provide a comprehensive support system throughout students’ college years so that they graduate with a bachelor’s degree.
The Center for Student Opportunity is focused on empowering underserved, first-generation college students to and through college by providing critical information, guidance, scholarships, and ongoing support.
Students wishing to become Opportunity Scholars can complete the CSO College CenterConnectNow student profile to get involved.
Opportunity Scholars can also be nominated by high school counselors and teachers, community-based organization staff, and college access professionals that work with these students.
To nominate a student, please complete the Opportunity Scholars Nomination Form.
The Chicago Scholars Program identifies energetic and promising high school juniors like who are determined to make the most of their college experience. After students are accepted into the program during their junior year of high school, the program will begin from the college admissions stage through college graduation, laying the groundwork at length for success in the professional world or in graduate study.
Click here to become a Chicago Scholar!
College Bound a Washington, D.C. based program that offers public and public charter school students in grades 8-12 academic enrichment and resources to prepare for and succeed in college. The organization offers tutoring, mentoring, ACT/SAT preparation, and academic and career guidance free-of-charge to assist students in the District of Columbia metropolitan area in meeting their postsecondary educational goals.
You are eligible for the program if you are:
- A Public/Charter School student in the DC Metropolitan area
- Enrolled in a grade between 8-11
- Committed to going to college
- Committed to attending weekly meetings
- Committed to working with a partner (mentor)
College Forward is a college access program that provides free college access services to motivated economically-disadvantaged Central Texas students. Participating students receive one-on-one support through every aspect of the college application and financial aid process from the beginning of their junior year in high school until they earn a four-year college degree.
High School Juniors attending selected schools in the Austin area who want to earn four-year college degrees are invited to apply to the College Forward program if they are in the top 60% of their high school class and either qualify for the National School Lunch Program or would be the first in their families to graduate from college.
College Horizons is a pre-college program for Native American high school students open to current sophomores and juniors. Each summer students work with college counselors and college admissions officers in a five-day “crash course.” The individualized program helps students select colleges suitable for them to apply to, get admitted to, and receive adequate financial aid. Students research their top 10 schools; complete college essays, resumes, the Common Application, and the preliminary FAFSA; receive interviewing skills and test-taking strategies (on the ACT and SAT) and financial aid/scholarship information.
College Match identifies low-income high school sophomores with strong academic records in the Los Angeles, California area, and provides each of them (on an individualized basis) an intensive array of services comparable to what affluent students receive at elite private schools. These students and their families receive counseling and support to make them competitive in the college application process.
College Track is an after-school, college preparatory program for high school students offered in various cities throughout the United States. Their four core service areas are:
- Academic Affairs reinforces high standards and accountability that enable our students to enter college and succeed in life.
- Student Life provides students the opportunities, resources, and tools to explore their passions and constructively engage in their communities.
- College Affairs guides students in all aspects related to college admissions and helps students find college scholarships.
- College Success provides support to our college students through academic advising and help finding financial aid.
EAOP is a state-wide college preparatory program sponsored by the University of California. For over 30 years, EAOP has helped students prepare for college by creating a community of young scholars and offering college-preparatory advising and academic enrichment opportunities. EAOP at UC Berkeley currently serves approximately 3,000 students from San Francisco, Contra Costa and Alameda counties.
Students who are enrolled at an EAOP Partner School and maintain a 2.8 GPA or higher in their college preparatory coursework are eligible to apply to the program. Priority is given to students from low-income families and/or students who will be the first in their family to go to college.
In general, students are invited to apply during the spring of their 9th grade year.
The Educational Talent Search prepares academically qualified limited income, first generation New Hampshire youth to complete secondary school and enroll in and complete a program of postsecondary education by providing academic advising, career, college, financial literacy and financial aid information.
Currently, EOP has a presence on 45 campuses across New York State with HEOP operating on 57 campuses. To be eligible for admission to EOP you must be:
- A New York State resident for 12 months prior to enrollment;
- Require special admissions consideration; and
- Qualify as economically disadvantaged according to the guidelines. In selecting students for the program, priority is given to applicants from historically disadvantaged backgrounds.
EOP/HEOP at Cornell University, through the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) and the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) facilitates students whose financial and academic environments have not allowed their potential to come to fruition. H/EOP gives students who have the ability for academic success, but not the requirements for regular admission, the chance to attend Cornell University. The programs allow students eight to ten semesters to successfully complete a degree.
EOP serves students enrolled in one of the contract colleges at Cornell:
- College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
- College of Human Ecology
- School of Industrial and Labor Relations
HEOP serves students enrolled in one of the endowed colleges at Cornell:
- College of Architecture, Art and Planning
- College of Arts and Sciences
- College of Engineering
- School of Hotel Administration
HEOP at State University of New York provides access, academic support and financial aid to students who show promise for succeeding in college but who may not have otherwise been offered admission. Available primarily to full-time, matriculated students, the program supports students throughout their college careers within the University.
The Fiver Children’s Foundation takes its name from a fictional character of the Richard Adams novel Watership Down. Fiver is the name of a small rabbit who has a vision to create a better future for his community and the courage to carry on after confronting seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The Fiver Children’s Foundation is a youth development organization based out of New York City, that organizes year-long programming in addition to hosting children ages 8 to 18 at a summer camp.
The Fulfillment Fund is a college access organization working closely with partners in the schools and the community to provide first-generation, low-income students with the support necessary to graduate from high school and go on to college. High school seniors who are currently enrolled in a Fulfillment Fund program are eligible to apply for one of our competitive need-and-merit based college scholarships, renewable for 2-4 years of undergraduate study.
The I Have A Dream Foundation sponsors cohorts of students in under-resourced public schools or housing developments, and work with these “Dreamers” from early elementary school all the way through high school. Upon high school graduation, each Dreamer receives guaranteed tuition assistance for higher education.
Currently, more than 3,158 Dreamers are on the way to college in 17 states, Washington, D.C., and New Zealand, following some 12,000 Dreamers who came before them.
The Johns Hopkins CTY Scholars CTY Talent Searches identify, assess, and recognize students with exceptional mathematical and/or verbal reasoning abilities. Students may participate in Grades 2-6 or Grades 7-8. Participation in the CTY Talent Search comes with a wealth of benefits.
Students interested in applying should:
- Read the 2012 Talent Search brochure
- Apply online or by paper (“fillable” pdf)
- Locate the school code needed for your application
- Access test center lists for all grades
- Learn about your CTY test options
- Testing information for students with disabilities
Let’s Get Ready is focused on expanding college access for motivated, low-income high school students by providing FREE SAT preparation and college admission counseling through college student volunteers who serve as “Coaches,” mentors, and role-models to provide not only SAT instruction and college admissions guidance, but the encouragement and inspiration students need to succeed.
The Link Unlimited College Readiness programs provide students with in-depth exposure to higher education and one-on-one counseling that complements the advisement that they receive at their respective high schools. During the fall of their senior year all LINK Scholars participate in one-on-one college counseling with LINK Unlimited staff. During these hour-long sessions scholars, along with the LINK staff member, talk through the students school options and create a list of 5-7 schools for the scholar to apply to.
LINK has established partnerships with over 43 colleges and universities. These schools give LINK scholars access to their campus, students and administrators to answer questions and give students relevant information about their school. Bowdoin College, DePauw University, Union College, Pomona College, Colorado College, Denison University, Stanford University, Vanderbilt University, Emory University, Washington University in St. Louis, Hamilton College and Colgate University are a few of our partner schools. We are constantly increasing our partnerships especially with smaller top-ranked schools. These schools post high minority retention rates, offer generous financial award packages, and have high numbers of alumni who attend graduate school.
- The student must be an African American 8thgrader (students who have already started high school are not eligible to apply).
- The student must reside in theChicagoland area and plan to attend a tuition-charging (private, parochial, or Independent) high school in the Chicagoland area.
- The student must be highly motivated as evidenced by strong academic potential. Academic potential is determined by reviewing the student’s 7th and 8th grade report cards along with standardized test scores and teacher letters of recommendation. Strong candidates have achieved mainly As and Bs in core subjects, have a proven track record of strong study habits, and have test scores that show strong academic ability, achievement, and aptitude. We are seeking students who have the potential to succeed in a challenging academic environment.
If you are a grammar school teacher/administrator, church, community based organization, etc., and would like to have a representative from LINK Unlimited come out to speak to a group of your students about this scholarship opportunity, please contact Tiffany McQueen, Director of Educational Programs at 312-225-5465.
Making Waves propels urban, low-income children to the highest levels of academic achievement and helps underserved students gain acceptance to college and graduate with a bachelor’s degree. Through Making Waves Academy in Richmond, California and the Making Waves Education Program in Richmond and San Francisco, Making Waves provides rigorous academic training, critical support services, and options to attend challenging schools to youth in fifth through twelfth grades. We also provide scholarships and counseling to our Wave-Makers throughout the college years, as well as professional mentoring and career advice to our alumni.
Minds Matter serves high-achieving, low-income students in cities across the United States. Minds Matter is a meritocratic organization that rewards hard work, dedication and achievement, and does not discriminate based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or physical ability. To ensure that Minds Matter reaches the most dedicated, talented, and deserving students, acceptance into Minds Matter is dependent on a rigorous and highly competitive application process.
Students are accepted into the Program as sophomores and juniors in high school; the average incoming GPA is 3.4 (on a 4.0 point scale) and the average adjusted family income is approximately $25,000. Many students are the first person in their family to attend college, and virtually none of them have parents who are college graduates.
All of Minds Matter’s sophomores and juniors attend academic summer programs at colleges and prep schools like Cornell University, Harvard University, and Philips Exeter Academy, as well as abroad in countries like Morocco, South Africa, and Spain. Because Minds Matter helps students apply for financial aid awards and raises funds to supplement financial aid, the program is of no cost to the students, their families, or their schools.
National College Advising Corps, with headquarters at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, works to increase the number of low-income, first-generation college and underrepresented students who enter and complete higher education.
By hiring and training recent graduates of partner college and universities as full-time college advisers and placing them in underserved high schools, the Advising Corps serves communities across the country to provide the advising and encouragement that many students need in order to navigate the complex web of college admissions, secure financial aid and raise the college-going rates within those schools.
To date, the Advising Corps has served more than 189,000 students since its inception in 2004. In school year 2011-2012, 321 advisers representing 18 institutions of higher education in 14 states will reach over 110,000 students in 368 high schools.
Next General Venture Fund invests in academically talented young people by offering financial help and academic resources to qualified eighth-grade students, and continues to provide such services through their remaining pre-college years.
NGVF is a joint venture of:
- the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth (CTY);
- the Duke University Talent Identification Program (Duke TIP);
- the Northwestern University Center for Talent Development (CTD);
- the Center for Bright Kids (CBK);
- the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE);
Students who score at or above the 95th percentile on standardized tests normally taken in school are invited to participate in CTY’s Talent Search, during which they take an additional set of above-grade-level tests used to measure mathematical and verbal reasoning. Qualifying students may choose to enroll in CTY programs including summer residential programs, online courses, and one-day conferences. CTY also publishes Imagine, an award-winning periodical that is full of opportunities and resources for gifted students.
Academically eligible students are invited to participate in one of Duke TIP’s two annual Talent Searches which allow students to take above-level standardized tests to learn more about their intellectual abilities. Qualifying students may participate in Duke TIP Residential Summer Programs or e-Studies Programs which offer gifted students challenging courses suited to their advanced intellectual capacity and motivation. Duke TIP also offers Learn on your Own workbooks (grades 4-12) and CD-ROM Enrichment courses (grades 7-12) for self-paced, challenging independent study. In addition, participants receive a variety of academic resources including the Duke Gifted Letter , a newsletter for parents of the gifted, and the Educational Opportunity Guide , a directory of over 400 educational programs for gifted students.
Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development (CTD) provides a variety of rigorous programs for academically talented youth in grades PreK to 12: summer residential and commuter programs, distance-learning options through Gifted LearningLinks, enrichment and credit-bearing courses at three Chicago-area sites through its Saturday Enrichment Program, and a citizenship and service-learning program, Civic Leadership Institute, located in Chicago.
Students qualify for programs and parents and educators get a more accurate understanding of students’ potential though CTD’s Midwest Academic Talent Search (MATS), an above-grade-level testing program for academically talented students. Every year nearly 31,000 students use MATS to help them understand their abilities and plan for their futures.
The Center for Bright Kids is the Regional Talent Center for the Rocky Mountain area. This seven-state region includes Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, New Mexico, Montana, and Wyoming. CBK offers K-12 enrichment and acceleration programming for high interest and high ability kids. Our focus is not only on how kids think and learn, but how they discover ways to navigate the world while thinking and learning differently. CBK is focused on providing safe spaces for kids to laugh and play while being intellectually challenged with intensive academic experiences and actively engaged in meaningful, authentic learning experiences.
NFTE teaches entrepreneurship to young people from low-income communities to enhance their economic productivity by improving their business, academic, and life skills. Since 1987, NFTE has reached over 140,000 youth and trained more than 3,700 Certified Entrepreneurship Teachers. Currently NFTE has active programs in 31 states and 13 countries.
Oliver Scholars selects highly motivated 7th-grade students of African-American and Latino descent and offers them the support and guidance they need to gain admission to some of the Northeast’s best independent schools and continues to support them through the college admissions process. Oliver Scholars attend two Summer Immersion Programs: one between 7th and 8th grade and one between 8th and 9th grade. These programs are designed to develop the academic, social, and leadership skills the Scholars will need to succeed in independent schools.
Philadelphia Futures prepares students from low-income families to enter and succeed in college by providing mentoring, academic enrichment, college guidance, and financial incentives. The Sponsor-A-Scholar (SAS) provides students from Philadelphia’s neighborhood high schools with the support and resources they need to achieve their dream of a college education. Beyond the SAS Program, Philadelphia Futures publishes the annual Step Up to College Guide – an invaluable resource for thousands of students across Philadelphia.
The POSSE Foundation identifies, recruits and trains public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential to become Posse Scholars. These students—many of whom might have been overlooked by traditional college selection processes—receive four-year, full-tuition leadership scholarships from Posse’s partner institutions of higher education. Most important, Posse Scholars graduate at a rate of 90 percent and make a visible difference on campus and throughout their professional careers.
If you are a high school or a community-based organization that works with high school juniors/seniors in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York or Washington, D.C., and you are officially registered with your local Posse office, then you can nominate your students as early as their second semester junior year, in high school. Note that for each Posse location/city, the nomination process may begin in the spring. Please make sure you contact your local Posse office for details at the beginning of every year.
Each fall, students are nominated by high schools and community-based organizations for their leadership and academic potential. Posse partner colleges and universities award merit-based leadership scholarships to multicultural teams of 10 students each. These teams (Posses) attend college together.
Prep for Prep develops leaders through access to superior education and life-changing opportunities by identifying New York City’s most promising students of color and preparing them for placement at independent schools in the city and boarding schools throughout the Northeast. Once placed, Prep offers support and opportunities to ensure the academic accomplishment and personal growth of each one of our students.
Prep for Prep provides every student with an array of leadership development opportunities. These opportunities broaden students’ aspirations and awareness of life’s possibilities, while building each young person’s sense of self and personal potential.
- Aspects of Leadership
- College Guidance
- Professional Advancement
- Public Policy Internships
- Students Advocating for Young Children
- Study Abroad
Project Grad is a national nonprofit education reform model serving more than 134,000 economically disadvantaged youth in 213 schools across the nation. GRAD’s mission is to ensure a quality public education for economically disadvantaged students so that high school graduation and college entrance rates increase dramatically. GRAD follows a preK–16 comprehensive model of reform, bringing together technical, curricular, and professional development support to its partner school districts. GRAD provides a guaranteed college scholarship for all graduates of GRAD high schools who meet the following criteria:
- Graduating in four years,
- Maintaining a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or above, and
- Successfully completing two Project GRAD-sponsored Summer Institutes with partner colleges and universities.
For more information on Project GRAD USA, please visit www.projectgrad.org.
Project Seed works in partnership with school districts, universities and corporations using mathematics to increase the educational options of urban youth, the program is still on the cutting edge. Project SEED employs highly trained mathematicians and master teachers who use a unique Socratic method of instruction to teach higher mathematics to entire classes of low-achieving students. Simultaneously, they provide teachers with state-of the-art professional development based on modeling and coaching.
Questbridge connects bright, motivated low-income students with educational and scholarship opportunities at some of the nation’s best colleges and universities. The QuestBridge college application process is the national expansion of an eight-year QuestLeadership Program which helps students gain admissions to top colleges as well as helping them through college and into their first jobs, graduate schools, and professional experiences.
QuestBridge is the provider of the College Prep Scholarship, the National College Match, and the Quest for Excellence Awards programs. Please read below for more information. QuestBridge’s goal is to reach every high-achieving, low-income student in America. Often, exceptional students remain separated from opportunity by a simple lack of information. QuestBridge, with your help, can find these students and connect them with opportunities that will enhance their futures.
Click here to refer a student. Application deadline for students is in September of each year.
Rainer Scholars invites 60 promising students of color each year to embark on an 11-year, life-changing journey. Each November, fifth grade students of color in the Seattle Public School District who passed the reading portion of their fourth-grade WASL exam receive a special letter—one inviting them to a meeting where they can learn about being a Rainier Scholar.
The Rainer Scholar program recruits students who have the greatest number of barriers to a college education. More than 80% of scholars qualify as low income. More than 85% come from households where they will be the first generation to attend college.
In addition to students who are invited to apply, students nominated by an adult may also apply. Students primarily live within the boundaries of the Seattle Public School District, but students who live outside the district may apply as well, provided that their families can provide them with transportation to Rainier Scholars classes, meetings, and events.
For more information, please contact Bob Hurlbut, Director of Recruitment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Schuler Scholars accepts applications from students in the spring of their 8th grade year in school. Selected scholars receive an additional year of programming while in high school. A Schuler Outreach Coordinator serves as a liaison between the college scholars, Alumni and staff and provides guidance to the scholars as they navigate life in a place far from home.
SEO Scholars is a year-round, out-of-school, academically rigorous program that prepares motivated urban public high school students to earn admission and succeed at competitive colleges and universities. The Scholars Program adds the equivalent of 60 school days to the NYC public school calendar for its students each year. Scholars dedicate 80% of their time at SEO to academics, with the remaining 20% spent on enrichment and leadership activities.
Please click here to view a video about the Scholars Program.
The CollegeBoard’s Student Search Service (SSS) helps introduce students to higher education and opportunities by offering them the ability to provide personal and preferential information to colleges and scholarship programs that are looking for students like them — all at no cost to the student.
When students take a College Board exam, they can choose to participate by actively opting in to SSS during the registration process. The vast majority of exam-takers opt in to SSS to receive information about admissions, financial aid and other postsecondary opportunities without being solicited by commercial entities.
College Board exams with SSS opt in options:
- AP® (Advanced Placement)
- SAT Subject Tests™
- PSSS (Preliminary SAT Scoring Service)
More than 1,100 colleges, universities and scholarship programs use SSS every year to find the right students for their programs, scholarships and special activities.
Summer Search identifies resilient low-income high school students and provides year-round mentoring by full-time trained staff builds students’ resilience, helping them learn to cultivate relationships, become self-reflective, and navigate the challenges in their lives. Provides full scholarships to summer experiential education programs like Outward Bound and the National Outdoor Leadership School strengthen students’ follow-through, leadership, and problem solving, all of which translates to success in high school and college.
The Teak Fellowship accepts 6th grade applicants who participate in a comprehensive six-month process, where applicants participate in several rounds of screening that include a financial assessment, diagnostic tests, a written application, and interviews. TEAK Fellowships are awarded based on both academic merit and financial need.
Eligibility criteria includes:
- Be enrolled in sixth grade at the time of their application
- Attend a public or parochial school in one of the five boroughs of NYC and be a NYC resident
- Earn a scaled score of 690 or above on the 5th-grade NYS ELA exam and a scaled score of a 700 or above on the 5th-grade NYS math exam and/or scored in the 90th percentile on other standardized tests
- Earn 90% or above in all classes
Each spring, TEAK accepts a 6th grade class into the Fellowship. They begin programming in the summer after sixth grade and attend intensive after-school and Saturday classes during their seventh grade year, participate in the Summer Institute following their seventh and eighth grade school years, and begin the High School Placement process by attending after-school and Saturday activities during their eighth grade school year. Fellows enter the Post-Placement program during high school and continue their Fellowship until they go to college.
If your child is currently in the 6th grade, and you would like additional information on how to apply to TEAK, please call the TEAK Admissions Inquiry line at (212) 288-6678 x290 or fill out the Admissions Info Request Form.
Venture Scholars is a national membership program designed to help underrepresented and first-generation college-bound students interested in pursuing math- and science-based careers link to information, resources, and opportunities that will help them successfully pursue their career goals.
The Program collaborates with colleges, universities, professional associations, and organizations nationwide (VSP Partners) and offers a variety of tools to link students to the partners’ information, resources, and opportunities. The Program also invites parents/guardians and guidance counselors to receive these resources, too!
White-Williams Scholars participate in the College Connection program offered to Scholars who wish to devote more time to exploring as well as strengthening their future pursuits. The program’s purpose is to engage these bright, motivated students during the pivotal and transitional year of ninth grade, and to keep them on track for graduation from high school and preparation for college.