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CTL Support of College Possible Helps to Equip Low-Income Students for College

CTL Donates 30 J2 Chromebooks and a 30-unit Charging Cart for Madison High School’s College Possible Program

“Many of our students lack access to technology at home and don’t have a personal computer to use for school and the college application process.  This valuable partnership with CTL allows us to provide computers to a handful of students who worked really hard this year.”

– College Possible Development Officer, Emielle Nischik

As part of our commitment to education, CTL is proud to support College Possible, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to providing low-income students with the resources they need to earn admission to and succeed in college. CTL recently donated 30 J2 Chromebooks and a 30-unit charging cart to the Portland chapter of this organization to help equip capable low-income students at Madison High School with the technology they need to prepare for college.

Each year at the end of the school year, College Possible has an end-of-year event called Launch! to celebrate students’ hard work and accomplishments, and “launch” them to the next stage of their college journey. This year, the Portland Launch! Event on May 21, 2016 at David Douglas High School honored 159 college-bound seniors and 222 juniors. These students’ hard work is truly life-changing for themselves, their families and their communities. CTL is thrilled to provide some of these students with a CTL J2 Chromebook for Education to meet their technology needs for high school, college and beyond. Reem, a senior at Reynolds High School, is very excited about being accepted to eight colleges so far. “I can say that without College Possible I would not be going to college,” Reem said.

Development Officer Emielle Nischik explains,“Many of our students lack access to technology at home and don’t have a personal computer to use for school and the college application process.  This valuable partnership with CTL allows us to provide computers to a handful of students who worked really hard this year.” The computers were awarded as a prize for achievements like the highest ACT score increase and after-school session attendance in the 2015-16 school year.  “We look forward to growing this partnership over the coming year as we explore new opportunities with CTL to provide much need access to technology for our student,” Nischik said.

Since 2000, College Possible has provided coaching services to bright, hard-working, low-income students. Coaches, serving as AmeriCorps members, guide high school students through all the key aspects of preparing for college during after-school sessions for two hours twice a week. College Possible is in its 16th year nationally, and the program is entering its fourth year In Portland. “This will be our first year of serving college sophomores, a big milestone for our program as we track first year college retention rates for our students. Nationally, only 33 percent of  students return for their sophomore year. Our first year retention goal is 75 percent, which is significantly higher than the national average. What sets our program apart is that our students will continue to have a College Possible coach through degree completion so if they are facing challenges to reenrollment we will work with that student individually to get them back on track.” Nischik said.

Over the course of their junior and senior years, students complete 320 hours of curriculum in a supportive group of college-bound peers. The junior curriculum orients students to the college application process, provides extensive preparation for the ACT/SAT exam, introduces students to college life through campus tours and allows time for students to apply for summer enrichment opportunities. Junior year students also practice writing “grit and growth” essays to tell their personal story and the obstacles they have overcome.

The senior curriculum leads students through the college application process, assists students in applying for financial aid and scholarships and guides students through the transition to college. This year the College Possible program had two Gates Millennium Scholars for the first time, a full scholarship for undergraduate at the school of their choice and also graduate school .The scholarship application is intense with eight essays involved among other things the student has to provide. Their coach played a big role in encouraging and motivating the students to put in the work and actually apply for the scholarship.  

College Possible Students Celebrate Graduation

College Possible students share hugs with their coach.

The White House has recognized College Possible as an innovative program transforming communities across the country in a report titled, “Increasing College Opportunity for Low-Income Students,” released at the 2014 White House summit on college success. On a local level, the Portland chapter of College Possible has served 1,382 low-income Portland-area students last year, with 382 of those students enrolled in high school. In addition to serving high school students, College Possible served 130 college students enrolled in over 20 colleges across the country in the 2015-2016 school year. This year, students enrolled in the College Possible program had the highest ACT score increase for the second year in a row, increasing scores by 26%.

College Possible Portland began serving students in east Multnomah County high schools due to high rates of poverty in these areas. Schools served include Reynolds, Gresham, David Douglas, Parkrose, Centennial and Madison. They currently serve 480  high school students and 290 college students. Over the past three years, the program has achieved unprecedented results. College Possible’s goal is for 80% of its students to enroll in college their freshman year and continue through degree completion. Nationally, only 8 percent of low-income students actually earn a degree by age 26. They are working diligently with great results to close the degree-divide and ensure low-income students have the same opportunities as their upper-income peers.   

Because students are supported from their junior year of high school all the way through college graduation, the program grows exponentially every year. Once they are in college, students transition to a tech-connected college program. Tech-connected coaches work with students throughout the year and connect them to local resources on campus, assist with financial aid applications and talk through personal issues such as cultural barriers to help prevent “roadblocks” that could cause students to stop out. Portland State University has the highest enrollment in the program, with 26 students enrolled in the 2015-16 school year and Nischik expects that number to almost double next year. However, College Possible doesn’t limit their students’ options to in-state schools. The program lets students know about all the opportunities available to them and encourages them to  go where the best fit is. “Some students might assume a private college is out of reach because they’re not aware of programs that could assist them,” Nischik said. “We make sure that students apply to at least five colleges and have options when it comes to financial aid packages.”