That's why our two nonprofit organizations, Capital Partners for Education and Urban Alliance, are focusing on highly motivated low-income or under-resourced students. We're helping them to graduate from high school and college — as well as to secure a job and pursue a professional career — with special programs designed to reverse such long-term trends.
CPE provides mentoring, community service, and weekend workshops, including sessions on college applications, finding a career, résumé writing, interview skills, and financial literacy, all in partnership with UA and other nonprofits. The organization works with teenagers and young adults, primarily between 14 and 19 years of age. Of its students, 69 percent are African-American and 20 percent Hispanic and Latino, with 27 percent living in underserved communities. The average annual income for a CPE family of four is $26,551.
UA is largely similar, providing paid internships to more than 1,200 youth during its 17-year history. Its approach combines paid internships, primarily in corporate settings, mentoring from an adult professional, case management from a dedicated staff member, and weekly trainings focused on college and career skills. More than 40 percent of its young adults, mainly 18 to 24 years old, live in poverty, with 44 percent residing in the lowest income wards. Almost all are African-American.
The results at both of our groups so far speak for themselves. To date, CPE has attained a remarkable 99 percent college enrollment rate and a 70 percent college completion rate for its graduates — more than triple the rate nationally and five times the rate in D.C. For its part, UA has achieved an equally astounding 100 percent high school graduation rate, more than 80 percent post-secondary education enrollment — and, on average, 85 percent of its participants improve on critical job skills.
The key predictor of college success is socioeconomic status. Low-income, first-generation-to-college students are four times more likely to leave higher education after freshman year than peers. Those low-income students graduate college at half the rate as higher income students.
In response to growing concern over the issue, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation recently awarded each of our nonprofits a $200,000 grant to advance our initiatives — and, more specifically, to help low-income young people graduate from high school and college, land a job, and pursue a career. Its Neighborhood Builders® program, now in its 10th year, couples leadership training with an unrestricted grant for high-performing nonprofits. Jeff Wood, the bank's Greater Washington market president, says, "The funding will allow these groups to continue to help young people not only attain the skills needed to secure a job or attend college, but succeed in these settings as well."