College Affordability Advising Program | City of Ideas

Posted 01/03/2013 by Collaborate Boston Application

Issue to be Addressed:
College affordability is one of the most pressing issues facing boys and young men of color. According to a College Board report, young men of color are at the greatest risk of living outside the margins of our society and failing to advance their education into college. Though young people of color face more challenges in general towards a college degree, the problem is more acute for young men. Young women are outperforming young men with respect to high school and college graduation rates. 60% of college degrees earned by Hispanic students are obtained by women. This number rises to 67% when looking at African American students.

Young men of color face many issues – from low expectations in the schools, lack of male role models, and destructive pressures that undermine academic success. College affordability also stands as a challenge for boys looking to go to college. More than 60% of African American and Hispanic students and families report needing more financial aid information, compared to 44% of white students. Language barriers and lack of college history in the family also keep students from getting needed information. The need for quality financial aid information is critical for young men of color.

Project Proposed:
uAspire (formerly ACCESS) will offer our college affordability advising to three organizations serving young boys and men of color – Squashbusters, Tenacity, and the Boston Astros. We are proposing a partnership with these three organizations because all share the same quality of using sports as a gateway for academic achievement. For many boys and young men in our city, sports provide a way to engage in positive after-school activities. Sports also build qualities in young men – teamwork, focus, and determination – that are necessary to graduate from high school and continue to college. While uAspire will serve any student – boys or girls – as part of our partnership with these organizations, we have selected this focus on sports because of its ability to bring otherwise disconnected young boys into a caring and positive environment that these organizations are known for.

uAspire will pair our trained financial aid Advisors directly with these organizations, working alongside program staff to design college affordability programming that best meets the needs of their students. Due to the model’s adaptability, uAspire can work with these groups to provide students with the same quality experience regardless of setting. Services will include: grade-appropriate financial aid workshops, FAFSA completion, other one-on-one support.

Role of Collaboration:
Community partnership is central to uAspire’s work. By focusing exclusively on financial aid, uAspire complements the work of schools and community organizations. Schools and community organizations do a tremendous job supporting academic and social needs, but they will readily admit that they do not have the time or resources necessary to support the financial needs of students. uAspire has created programs that hold collaboration as central to their success. Such cooperation benefits both the partner organization by enhancing their existing college access programming, as well as uAspire by providing direct access to students and critical trust-by-association.

-SQUASHBUSTERS – As part of our TBF Collaborate Boston proposal, we will increase our target services to 9th-11th grade students, by implementing our Early College Affordability Awareness (ECAA) curriculum. ECAA walks students through the financial aid process with grade-appropriate content, with a goal of increasing knowledge and getting students to prepare for college earlier. We expect to reach up 75 new young people with our services. As part of our overall partnership with Squashbusters, we will explore a college affordability success program for those students already in college, as well as to look into a partnership expansion to Lawrence.

-TENACITY – As part of our TBF Collaborate Boston proposal, we will increase our target services to 9th-11th students, by implementing our ECAA curriculum. We expect to reach 100 new young people and families. As part of our overall partnership with Tenacity, we will explore a college affordability success program for those students already in college, with a goal to reach up to 50 college students with our services.

-BOSTON ASTROS – As part of our TBF Collaborate Boston proposal, we will create a new partnership with the Boston Astros. We plan on serving 9th grade students, with a goal of serving up to 20 boys. As part of our overall partnership with the Boston Astros, we will implement the ECAA curriculum, 1-to-1 senior year advising, and college success support. We will also explore a partnership expansion to Lawrence

When boys and young men of color begin to think of college in middle school and during the first years of high school, they have more time to make decisions that will better position them for college success. Many foreclose on the idea of college because they think they can never afford it. The lack of reliable financial aid information is widespread in neighborhoods of color. When boys and young men believe this, they won’t plan on saving money for college. They won’t take college-prep coursework in high school. They might not graduate high school at all. They won’t engage in positive, extracurricular activities and may make negative, destructive choices.

uAspire will partner with Squashbusters, Tenacity, and the Boston Astros because of their success in engaging with boys and young men of color who may otherwise be lost. uAspire’s contribution is one part of an overall strategy to positively improve the lives and futures of boys and young men in Boston. By partnering with these organizations – all of whom have a track record of success – we are providing our unique expertise on college financial aid that will inspire and encourage these boys and young men to start preparing for college.

Other information:
We believe that students in Dorchester, Mattapan and Roxbury want to go to college. uAspire is qualified to help them achieve this goal, and we have a positive track record of helping more than 6,000 youth in Boston last year alone. We understand, though, the challenges that many boys and young men of color face. They face many pressures to make decisions that will steer them away from academic success. If they do see themselves as “college material,” they are often the first in their families to pursue a college degree. The lack of role models and financial literacy required to make college affordable can derail the progress of many students of color.

uAspire is committed to ending this cycle of poverty and – through the power of higher education – propelling young people of color to promising futures. And we are able to do this through the partnerships we create – with Boston Public Schools, with community-based organizations, and with area colleges. We are eager to explore this unique partnership with Squashbusters, Tenacity, and the Boston Astros to both provide our college affordability advising and leverage the positive impact that sports can have on young peoples’ lives.

Primary Contact:
Adam Reinke, uAspire
Adam is the Director of Greater Boston at uAspire. In his role he oversees the High School Advising and Community Engagement programs in both Boston and Lawrence.  Since joining uAspire in 2005, Adam he has worked in a variety of departments within the organization including, Early Awareness, Financial Aid Advising, and Community Engagement. Prior to joining uAspire, he worked at Massachusetts Campus Compact as an AmeriCorps*VISTA Leader. Adam earned his B.A. in Political Science and Secondary Education from Marquette University.

Partner 1:
SquashBusters’ Mission is to challenge and nurture urban youth – as students, athletes and citizens – so that they recognize and fulfill their fullest potential in life. SquashBusters’ Goals are to:
•           Ensure that its students successfully enroll in and graduate from college
•           Impact the life-long health and wellness of its students
•           Develop in each participant a deep sense of integrity and personal character

Partner 2:
Tenacity’s mission is to improve the scholastic, character and physical development of urban youth by combining tennis instruction and academic support with a focus on life skills.  Tenacity programs meet a critical need for safe, healthy, productive after-school, in-school and summer programs for urban youth. Tennis and fitness activities are the magnets drawing interest from kids who otherwise have few athletic outlets. These athletic activities are closely integrated with literacy programs to help build academic motivation and achievement.

Partner 3:
By developing outstanding players who represent the values of teamwork, sportsmanship, dedication, and an ethic of hard work, South End Baseball and the Boston Astros are committed to continuing to grow towards becoming one of the top baseball programs in the country

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