Since he was in middle school, Aldwin has wanted to be an engineer. Now a senior at Valley High School in Sacramento, he has enrolled in every class possible to prepare for college level engineering courses. He has also taken advantage of the resources available to him through the Foundation’s Capital Area Promise (CAP) Scholars program, which aims to improve access to higher education for local students—particularly young men of color, like Aldwin—who often encounter the greatest barriers to college success.
The program, which was launched in 2016 as part of the Foundation’s Strategic Initiative to Prepare Students to Succeed in the New Economy, was recently awarded a $1.1 million grant to advance its successes in addressing locally the disparities that plague access to higher education.
“We have to be champions for students like Aldwin. The gender and racial disparities we see in local students’ readiness to attend college and graduate with a degree underline the necessity and urgency of this work, and the timeliness of this grant,” said Linda Beech Cutler, the Foundation’s chief executive, noting that data from the California Department of Education show nearly threequarters of African-American and Hispanic/Latino male students in Sacramento County are not prepared for college when they graduate from high school.
The $1 million investment from College Futures Foundation follows the initial $1 million grant it awarded to the Foundation to launch the CAP Scholars program in 2016. This second grant will fortify the program’s successes in helping individual students succeed—successes made possible through the Foundation’s collaborations with highly effective local nonprofits and its strategic scholarships— and it will also advance data-driven efforts to help local educational institutions adapt their policies and practices to more effectively serve local students.
Working in tandem, these efforts are building educational equity in the Sacramento region holistically, helping to ensure that all students—including young men of color—enjoy equitable opportunities to succeed in college and beyond.
Key to this work is a new data-sharing partnership that is bridging educational institutions in order to robustly address educational inequity: Educators from Los Rios Community College District, Sacramento State, and Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) are, for the first time, exploring how they can utilize data between their institutions to help students from historically underrepresented backgrounds succeed.
“Our goal is to really elevate the importance of using data to celebrate our students’ potential and ensure equitable access to higher education,” said Jorge Aguilar, Superintendent of the Sacramento City Unified School District, of the approach.
Don Hunt, Associate Vice President of Enrollment and Student Services at Sacramento State, echoed Aguilar’s comments. “Because of this data-sharing partnership, we are already seeing our graduation rates increase,” he said. “Currently, they’re at 14 percent, up from 9 percent when we started.”
The data-sharing approach is bridging institutions to foster a more equitable educational ecosystem in the capital area— an effort that has been bolstered further by a $200,000 grant from the Foundation to provide scholarships for students who transfer to Sacramento State from local community colleges. To date, 260 students have received $500 scholarships because of the grant, and 140 more students will benefit by the fall. “Helping students transition to a four-year university and easing their financial need is only part of the effort; once students arrive on campus, they are paired with on-campus resources to support them as they earn their degrees,” said Cutler, pointing to the success of the Sacramento State’s Peer Transfer Coaches, who provide one-on-one mentorship to help students successfully transition from local community colleges to the university.
“These coaches are like a super mentor, academic advisor, and support system all wrapped up in one, sometimes offering a lifeline to students who can feeloverwhelmed by the transition,” said Jazzie Murphy, Director of Academic Advising at Sacramento State, who supervises the coaches. “And we know they work because we are already seeing an 83 percent graduation rate among students who transfer through the program that the Foundation sponsored, which is outstanding.”
Through the Foundation’s efforts, Capital Area Promise Scholars like Aldwin are developing the skills they need to adeptly navigate their educational journeys, and they are accessing scholarships that will help lower the financial barriers that could otherwise stymie their college success. Too, they are graduating from, and enrolling in, local educational institutions that are being strengthened by data-based policies and practices that more effectively respond to their needs.
“The consequences of educational inequity are devastating for young people, for their families, and for the future of our community,” Cutler said. “But by fostering partnerships with educators, with community organizations, and with the students themselves, we can address educational equity from every angle.”
Learn about the Foundation’s Strategic Initiative that is behind these efforts, Preparing Students to Succeed in the New Economy, and discover how you can help young people achieve their educational dreams, at www.sacregcf.org/education.
The Foundation is embarking on a campaign to create a capital area promise scholars endowment to ensure students, specifically young men of color, have access to the financial resources they may need to enter and stay in college—and graduate with a degree that sets them up for success in life.
“Through its student-centered work, attention to systems-change, and commitment to build an endowed scholarship that will elevate this work into the future, the Sacramento Region Community Foundation’s leadership is helping make a seamless path to student success possible in the Sacramento region,” said Jacqueline Khor, Vice President for Programs at College Futures Foundation (College Futures).
The recent funding from College Futures capitalizes on its significant support of the CAP Scholars program; in total, College Futures has awarded more than $2 million to address educational inequity in the Sacramento region as part of the Foundation’s Strategic Initiative to Prepare Students to Succeed in the New Economy.
To help continue the effort to ensure that all students have equitable opportunities to succeed in college and beyond, contact Kerry Wood, the Foundation’s Chief Marketing and Donor Engagement Officer, at (916) 921-7723 ext. 2027 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to College Futures and generous Foundation donors, the Foundation’s CAP Scholars partners include SCUSD, Sacramento State, Improve Your Tomorrow, Youth Development Network, California Student Opportunity and Access Program, and PaperWings Creative.