Surrounded by gang activity as teenager and growing up in a single parent household with a mom working double shifts, Jessica was pushed to enroll in College Possible where she found a coach who believed in her. While her own counselor told the private college to which Jessica applied to "be nice and humor her unqualified application," Jessica and her College Possible coach fought the stereotyping and tracking that so often happens to students without an advocate. Four years later, Jessica had a degree from a prestigious private university and a corporate offer she put on hold to return to College Possible as an AmeriCorps coach where, as Jessica said, "I have a responsibility to help students in the way I was helped." In 2011, Jessica is on a management track program for one of the country's largest retailers. In total, more than 25 former College Possible students have returned to serve as AmeriCorps members with the program in the past three years.
About College Possible
Although a college education is the surest path to ending the cycle of poverty for an individual and his or her family, those for whom the incremental benefit of college would be the most significant are often the least likely to make the transition. Today, 82 percent of students from the top income quartile earn a college degree by age 24 compared to eight percent of low-income students. Research has shown that across the United States each year there are at least 200,000 low-income high school students who are capable of attending college, but do not go.
Acting on his belief that the educational opportunities available to low-income youth should be equivalent to those afforded to more affluent students, in 2000 Jim McCorkell founded College Possible. By harnessing the power of national service to create a corps of near-peer coaches, College Possible provides cost-effective, intensive college mentorship that empowers low-income students to navigate the barriers to college admission and completion. Through three complementary programs, College Possible coaches provide ACT/SAT test preparation, college application assistance, financial aid consulting, guidance in the college transition, and support toward college degree completion. This work empowers students to gain admission to and successfully complete four-year colleges, thereby taking the first step in breaking the cycle of poverty.
Preparing for Growth
College Possible has demonstrated an unshakeable commitment to driving results for low-income students. To date, 98 percent of College Possible's students have earned admission to college and nearly 80 percent of enrollees have graduated or are persisting toward their degree.
After completing a strategic planning process in 2010, College Possible committed to an ambitious growth plan and began building the infrastructure to support growth, including a national office and board. The organization plans to reach 20,000 students annually through 10 program sites in the next seven years.