College Summit: Equipping 4,800 Low-Income Student For Success in College and Career

submission by lyoffee

About Your Organization

Organization name(s):

College Summit Southern California

Organization website:

Organization Twitter handle:


Organization Facebook page:

Organization Instagram:

Describe your organization (check only one):

Nonprofit organization

For-profit organization



Please describe yourself (check only one):

Solo actor (just us on this project!)

Proposed collaboration (we want to work with partners!)

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe what your organization does.


College Summit is dedicated to transforming the lives of low-income youth by connecting them to college and career.

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.


College Summit will provide comprehensive tools, services, and support to help 4,800 low-income students plan for college and career.

Please write a sample tweet to describe your submission.


College Summit means #collegeaccess. College is within the reach of all LA students with @CollegeSummitLA. #BeAGrad in 2014-15.

Does your project impact Los Angeles County? Check only one.

Yes (benefits all of LA County)

Yes (benefits a region of LA County)

Yes (benefits a population of LA County)


Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit? Check all that apply.

Central LA

East LA

South LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South Bay



What is your idea/project in more detail?


College Summit significantly impacts students who are college-capable and potentially the first in their families to enroll in college but lack the presence of college-experienced adults to help them with the college and financial aid application processes.

We will provide training to 150 Peer Leaders, who will fill a unique and critical role in promoting college-bound culture. Programming during the school year will include: professional development for educators, grades 9-12 curricula, customized data, and ongoing school site support. This project will positively influence the post-high school trajectory of 4,800 students during the 2014-15 school year.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?


Across the 2014-15 school year, College Summit will partner with LA-area public schools to:

--Provide an in-school structure for every senior to develop a postsecondary plan
--Impact college culture by serving students starting in the 9th grade
--Deliver professional development for educators to deliver the College Summit curriculum
--Uses data to manage, evaluate, and continually improve programming to drive success
--Achieve consistent and verifiable results

Programming will include:

• Student leadership training: Select rising seniors (Class of 2015) will attend our signature 4-day college-immersion Summer Workshops where they will be immersed in the college application process and trained as “Peer Leaders” to ignite a college-going culture in their schools.
• Professional development and support for educators: Teachers and counselors responsible for implementing our curricula will attend our Educator Academy and become equipped to coach students from a college-savvy perspective and use our tools to collect data and track the application path of every senior.

• Innovative school-year curricula: 9th-11th grade students will receive our Launch program and be guided step-by-step through postsecondary preparation; seniors will benefit from our Navigator program by gaining the knowledge, confidence, tools, and support to identify their goals and plan for success beyond high school.
• Support: Our School Partnership Managers will serve as a resource, helping educators create dynamic College Summit classroom experiences and supporting Peer Leader activities.
• Actionable data: Our Milestone Reports will track student, classroom, and school progress toward achieving specific college enrollment goals are shared and discussed regularly to enable educators to proactively identify and respond to challenges and ensure optimal student success.



In today’s global economy, postsecondary education is increasingly vital to individual success, as well as to our country’s future. The knowledge, experience and skills attained through postsecondary education help sustain our workforce, which keeps the United States competitive in the global marketplace. There was a time when a high school diploma was all that was necessary to work at an auto plant or factory and earn enough to support a family. That time has passed.

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce report on educational concentrations of employment in the United States shows that by 2018, 67% of job openings in California will require applicants to have a post-high school education. Yet, in Los Angeles, Census data finds that only 59% of public school graduates go directly to college, and only half the adult population has earned a Bachelor’s degree or higher.

Whom will your project benefit? Please be specific.


Target population for 2014-15 is 4,800 low-income youth between the ages of 14-19 in the Greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. 70% of students served qualify for free/reduced meal plans (80% at most schools).

Students attend the following partner schools in the Los Angeles area: Academy of Science & Engineering Charter School; Academy of Scientific Exploration at Cesar E. Chavez Learning Academies; East Valley High School; Green Design Community School at Diego Rivera Learning Complex; Math, Science and Technology Magnet Academy at Roosevelt High School; Public Service Community School at Diego Rivera Learning Complex; Roosevelt High School; Thomas Jefferson High School; Arleta High School; APEX Academy; Arts, Theatre, and Entertainment School at Cesar E. Chavez Learning Academies; Communications and Technology School at Diego Rivera Learning Complex; Social Justice Humanitas Academy at Cesar E. Chavez Learning Academies; Sylmar High School; and Washington Preparatory High School.

College Summit helps students like Alexis Cardenas (Class of 2014, ArTES Academy in Los Angeles). “Before College Summit,” she says, “the question wasn't whether or not I would go to college; it was always whether or not I'd care enough to finish…After high school, I actually just saw myself as working in some job I hated, studying something I disliked by night.” Then Alexia attended a College Summit workshop which helped her learn more about using college as a stepping stone to her future. Now, she says, “after realizing that everything I enjoy is indeed marketable in the work force, I became interested in going after my dreams.” Since returning to school in the fall, Alexia has recently been accepted into one of the eight schools to which she’s applied and is awaiting word from the others. However, what makes her most proud as a Peer Leader is having helped two of her friends who were on the fence about college to see its importance and apply; both, she is happy to report, have since been accepted into their first choice colleges.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.


School Partners (listed above): Because of the embedded nature of our systemic model, strong partnerships with schools are necessary; we deliberately nurture relationships at multiple levels of leadership. Even when changes in personnel have occurred, we have been able to maintain our services because College Summit has become entrenched in the culture of schools.

Higher Education Partners: Deep relationships with the college/university partners that host our summer workshops create a vital bridge to postsecondary entry for students. Students greatly benefit from campus exposure, access to admissions counselors, and timely and relevant information and support. Our college partners, California Lutheran University and the University of Redlands, represent a network of higher education institutions across the country that have a shared mission to increase college access. By hosting our summer workshops, partners minimize our workshop costs and low-income students are introduced to their campuses and their students.

Significant corporate partnerships include: Deloitte brings expertise in managing and identifying areas of growth, fund development, and sponsorship of awards to honor the work of our partner schools; Darden Restaurants Inc., Foundation supports Peer Leader meetings at schools and Peer Leader awards. Collaborations provide access and information on grants and financial aid: Citi Foundation, Cash for College, Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Magic Johnson Foundation, and Junior Achievement. Community engagement: participating in the Valley Education Collaborative working on college access issues and policies in the San Fernando area; and assisting the Los Angeles Urban League in their efforts to increase the college enrollment of students in the Crenshaw corridor. The region has also formed more than 50 volunteering partnerships with local businesses, professional associations, and community groups to increase knowledge about college access issues and recruit volunteers from diverse backgrounds. College Summit has a pending application with the SoCal College Access Network (CAN), a regional network of 30+ college access organizations, to increase our visibility, identify us as a leader in the field, and provide access to resources, learnings, and best practices.

How will your project impact the LA2050 "LEARN" metrics?

Percentage of children enrolled in early education programs

Percentage of community college students completing a certificate, degree, or transfer-related program in six years

Youth unemployment and underemployment

District-wide graduation rates

HS student proficiency in English & Language Arts and Math

Academic Performance Index scores

College matriculation rates

Student education pipeline (an integrated network of pre-schools, K-12 institutions, and higher education systems that prepares students for seamless transitions between high school, higher education institutions, and the workforce) (Dream Metric)

Suspension and expulsion rates (Dream Metric)

Truancy rates in elementary and middle school (Dream Metric)

Students perceived sense of safety at and on the way to school (Dream Metric)


Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.:

The need for clearer pathways to and through college is dire. California ranks 18 out of the 20 most highly populated states in high school-to-college enrollment rates. With an 1,000:1 student-to-counselor ratio, California students are significantly shortchanged in guidance—especially critical for first-generation students who lack a college-educated adult in their family to help navigate the process.

Currently, only one in three low-income students enroll in college (NCES, The Condition of Education 2011). Worse, an alarming number of students do not complete high school. Los Angeles has one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the country with only 44% of local youth receiving diplomas (Cities in Crisis 2009 Report, America's Promise Alliance). Census data finds only half the adult population in Los Angeles has earned a Bachelor's degree or higher.

Our work is based on the conviction that many more students can enroll-and succeed-in college if they have access to well-timed information, tools, and guidance. College Summit provides students with these resources so they can effectively recognize and demonstrate their strengths, raise their expectations for what they can accomplish, and work toward accomplishing their goals.

College Summit partner schools report significant gains in college enrollment rates: 12-20% increases over baseline rates, on average. Of participants who enroll in 2- and 4-year colleges, 79% persist to the sophomore year and 74% persist to the junior year (on par with students from all income groups, according to National Student Clearinghouse data). Regionally, our partner schools increased their fall College Enrollment Rate (CER) by 4% compared to 2012. Morningside High had a 10% CER increase from the previous year and Sylmar and Arleta High Schools saw gains of 6% and 5% respectively.

Please select which other LA2050 Goals are relevant to your project or organization (check all that apply):

LA is the best place to CONNECT

LA is the best place to CREATE

LA is the best place to PLAY

LA is the healthiest place to LIVE

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.


1. 3,000 students in grades 9-11 explore and build competencies to prepare them to successfully navigate the college application process in their senior year.
2. 1,800 seniors (Peer Leaders and the rest of the Senior Class of 2015) gain skills in organization, planning, and self-advocacy during the school year to help them graduate and reach their postsecondary destination.
3. Approximately 150 rising seniors (Class of 2015) attend a four-day 2014 summer workshop where they become familiar with the college application process and be trained as Peer Leaders to inspire their classmates to aspire to college and help them through the steps to get there.
4. Approximately 120 educators (teachers and counselors) learn to effectively deliver College Summit curricula through our eight-hour Educator Academy. This training prepares college-savvy educators to understand the unique needs of individual students, and to support them as they plan their postsecondary paths.

Student progress is monitored throughout the school year via the following leading indicators:

For 9-11 grade – Percent of students who create a CSNav account; complete a learning styles inventory, plan of study, the SAT test prep, a personal statement draft, the job interview practice, resume, the career plan builder and a practice application; save a career and at least one college choice to their portfolio.

For 12th grade – Completion of Senior-Year plan, college list, personal statement, resume, college applications submitted, taking the SAT/ACT and FAFSA filing.

Curriculum implementation by educators is evaluated in the fall and spring of each school year to assess programmatic successes and challenges and address evolving constituent needs. Evaluations are also conducted after each summer Peer Leader workshop and Educators’ Academy.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?


1. When College Summit was created in 1996 at a teen center in the basement of a low-income housing project in Washington, DC, the center’s director, J.B. Schramm, saw dozens of college-capable kids not even considering college. Many had survived difficult life circumstances – homelessness, neglect, caring for young siblings or ill parents – and had developed smart instincts and deep determination. But the students lacked the know-how and the belief that they could go to college. In his work with this small group of students, Schramm recognized that building their college knowledge was the easy part. Convincing students to believe they could go to college was far more of a challenge. Schramm realized that the person most influential to a 17-year-old was not a teacher or a parent, and certainly not their teen center director. It was another 17-year-old. As influential students overcame hurdles in the college admissions process, other students gained confidence, too. So Schramm, in collaboration with an experienced youth development specialist, created a workshop model that would leverage this power of peer influence.

2. College Summit has learned to unleash the power of low income high school students to be change-makers for themselves, their schools, and communities through technology. Pioneered by College Summit students and the Los Angeles Unified School District, the App-a-thon format places local educators shoulder-to-shoulder with students who train them how to use technology to make the college-going process more transparent, collaborative, and easy to navigate for low-income and first generation students and their families.

The App-a-thon apps were developed in 2012, when College Summit joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Facebook to run a $2.5M challenge to incentivize top technology developers to design free or nearly free apps to help low-income students go to and through college. Using our expertise in the area of college success for low-income students, College Summit helped curate the best apps to make a comprehensive College App Map (, mapping the 19 winning, research-based apps along College Summit’s key student milestones that lead from 9th grade through college.

Explain how implementing your project in the next twelve months is an achievable goal.


College Summit has nearly 20 years of experience in the college access field. Since taking root in Southern California in 2002, more than 15,000 students in the Los Angeles metropolitan area have benefited. For its innovation and results, in 2012, College Summit was named to Forbes Magazine Impact 30 list of top global social entrepreneurs; recognized in 2010 by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for the top nonprofit-business partnership in the country (shared with Deloitte); five-time winner of the Social Capitalist Award from Fast Company Magazine; and founder J.B. Schramm was named "U.S. Social Entrepreneur of the Year" at the 2007 World Economic Forum in Davos.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?


Working with new partners: Most of our veteran schools such as Arleta High, Morningside High, Inglewood High and Sylmar High continue to surpass each of the milestone categories compared to the previous year. However, it is typical for us to see schools experience growing pains in the first year of partnership. So we address this with several strategies, including assigning a School Partnership Manager to spend more time on the campus to continue individualized training and support the educators; and designating Peer Leaders to help work with younger students in Launch classrooms.

Budget and leadership challenges at schools: A shortage of school personnel makes it challenging to ensure that our program is consistently delivered in a way that addresses the needs of all students at various stages along the postsecondary path. Additionally, leadership transitions often affect the level of service in school. We continue to address these issues by enhancing our professional development and support for educators; strengthening our work with and support of Peer Leaders; and sharing best practices with other College Summit regions.

What resources does your project need? (check all that apply)

Money (financial capital)

Volunteers/staff (human capital)

Publicity/awareness (social capital)

Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)


Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)

Community outreach

Network/relationship support

Quality improvement research

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Before College Summit I didn't put any thought into where I was going after school. I knew college was an option I just didn't have the motivation to complete,which what I thought at the time as an extremely hard and expensive task that wasn't worth my time. Luckily I was recommended by my Bio teacher to go to the 2013 workshop. While I was there they taught me how easy it was to actually go; that there was free money out there I just had to sign a few forms to get. They taught me what it takes to be a leader and it turned out to be something I actually wanted to be. When I got back from the workshop I had a new focus in mind; be apart of something. I got involved with school activities, joined baseball, and overall became a better person. I'm glad this program exists because it made me into the person I am today. Without it I wouldn't have had the motivation to apply for FAFSA or send my college applications out. I'm currently attending CSUDH because of C.S. and am happier for it.

by Anthonym115
over 1 year ago

I have always wanted to go to college but going into high school and in the end of my junior year, I had no idea how to go about the process of applying to schools, writing personal statements and learning how correctly do this along with making smart choices. I learned so much as a peerleader and I have been inspired ever since. I dont know what I would be doing without the knowledge I learned as a peerleader and the many wonderful and amazing friendships I created with fellow peerleaders and the staff of college summit. It changed my life in many positive ways and I am truly blessed to have even gotten the opportunity to experience this. I was inspired as a peerleader to help others succeed and now that I have graduated high school and finished my first year of college, Im going to continue to be involved and give back and inspire others like this program and these great people have done for me. They helped me to personally be a better person and helped me to stay focused and inspired with my future and college. Its simply an amazing program.

by vanessal15
over 1 year ago

Without College Summit i dont know where i would be. I wasnt interested in going to college untill I was introduced to the program and im incredibly happy that I'm apart of a such a life-changing experience. Not only does the program help you succed they also help you become a better person all around. Flavio was the first Al I talked to and now i'm a Al and proud of it!

by Sebastian94
over 1 year ago

I wasn't in the Peer Leader program or in anything like that, but I was serious about my education and goin into the next level. At first I was doubting myself about UC's and even going into college because I thought I wasn't able to do it and I was going to fail. But college summit helped me realize that anything was possible no matte what obstacles were to come my way. I could tackle anything that got in my way. College summit helped me boost my self esteem up and I had the confidence to go to college and begin a new chapter in my life. I guess in a way you can say college summit was like a new perspective that opens your eyes to believe in your self and do what you want to do. It's like a life check and I can honestly say I'm so glad it is. It helps so many students with troubles that they have to overcome everything.

by Daliaarroyo16
over 1 year ago

College Summit has opened many doors for me that I never knew I had access to. As a Peer Leader during my senior year at Sylmar High School back in 2011 I learned how to communicate effectively with my peers and become a better leader. When I started my freshman year at the University of California, San Diego I quickly got involved in co-curricular activities and utilized the skills College Summit taught me and now I have obtained many leadership roles on campus which in turn has helped me adjust into college. Some of my core values are leadership, love and service which are similar core values that College Summit encompasses. Because of College Summit I've been inspired to help other students who come from underprivileged backgrounds like myself which have ultimately lead me to major in Sociology with a minor in Education studies. Thank you College Summit!

by matthew.moor1
over 1 year ago

Because of college summit I was able to realize my dream of making a difference in the college going community in the LA area and all around the country where it is not a big thing. Being an alumni of the program I have been able to witness first hand the impact it can make on a students life. I am grateful to College Summit because without it during my senior year in high school I definitely wouldn't be where I am now. My peers and coworkers are some of the greatest people I have ever met and they push me to everyday and help me achieve my dreams. College Summit hasn't only benefited me, but it has benefited so many other students and I can only hope to witness as many of those stories as I can with my involvement.

by xDRWR
over 1 year ago

College did not cross my mind until I attended the college summit workshop at the end of my junior year. At that worshop I realized I had the potential to succeed in college and in life. I met many caring and friendly people at that workshop whom I still keep in contact with. Most of the students at that workshop go to a university and college summit has helped guide us. College summit has helped guide students on the process of getting into college and on how to succeed in college. College summit not only has helped me through the college process they also emotionally supported me and many other students. The workshop I attended was a summer that I will always hold near and dear to my heart.

by karen.carranza.188
over 1 year ago

As an Alumni of the program, I can honestly say that College Summit changed my life. In my community, high school students who are not a part of the AVID program are not expected to go attend post- secondary education let alone graduate high school .It was when I attended the workshop in the summer of '09 that I was told for the first time I have what it takes to attend college. I attended Santa Monica College & successfully transferred to Azusa Pacific University where I am set to graduate this upcoming spring. College Summit reinforces high school students with the confidence and hope they need in order to apply, attend and graduate from a post - secondary institution.

by linda.yanez
over 1 year ago

Looking back at the person I was about 4 years ago I never thought I would have made it this far in my life. I never thought I would be the first in my family to be receiving a bachelor's degree in sociology, pursue a Ph.D in Occupational Therapy, graduate with my bachelor's degree in 3 years instead of 4, be talking to high school students and others about going to college and what can be done to get there, and more importantly, help those students, people, and myself understand that there are so many options for us in life and in terms of education. I would not be here today if it were not for the four days I spent at the College Summit Workshop at the University of Redlands in the Summer of 2011. Those four days impacted my life and completely turned it around and I have seen it do the same for other students as well. College Summit creates a great chain reaction and movement, that is why I believe in it 100% when I say it is an organization that makes the positive difference in communities and creates a college going culture.

by .Bridgette012.C
over 1 year ago

College Summit has transformed many life's including mine. Before attending the summer workshop I didn't take college as serious as I should have and know a few that didn't as well. During those 3 days my whole perspective was completely changed. I became more determined and positive that I can go to college no matter what obstacles face me. I can say College Summit gives you a little reality check to what's important, which is continuing your education to a higher extent.

by Liss_bv
over 1 year ago

College Summit has managed to create a college-going campus not only in my own former high school, but in many around the area. I speak from experience when I say that College Summit does indeed change lives and attitudes about students considering college. Taking myself as an example, when I signed up for the program, I was leaning towards not attending any college whatsoever, and simply jumping into the workforce. However, with the help from this amazing program, I am now attending UC Santa Barbara in the fall. It just goes to show how a little push can make the world of change.

by alexia.cardenas
over 1 year ago

College Summit has been transformational for students in LA. Students leave the summer workshop believing that not only they can go to college but all their peers can too. In fact, they believe it is their responsibility to make that happen. College Summit makes youth self actualization a reality.

by jenniebelle
over 1 year ago

So glad to hear! That confidence will continue to grow with you and serve you well through college and beyond. Looking forward to seeing where you go next!

by lyoffee
over 1 year ago

And thank you for continuing to pay it forward!

by lyoffee
over 1 year ago

Alumni like you are helping sustain peer-led college-going culture. Thanks much for all you do!

by lyoffee
over 1 year ago

We're thrilled the workshop has stuck with you and we greatly appreciate your service to College Summit as well.

by lyoffee
over 1 year ago

Go Linda! And thank you for giving back to younger students by sharing your story and your work as a College Summit Alumni.

by lyoffee
over 1 year ago

College Summit may have opened the door but you've blown right through it. You're a real role model for current participants and your community.

by lyoffee
over 1 year ago

We love hearing stories like yours!

by lyoffee
over 1 year ago

Thanks Alexia. So excited for you on your college journey--and for paying it forward as an alumni of the program!

by lyoffee
over 1 year ago

Yes! It's such a simple concept, but we've found it to be so effective. Thanks for saying it so succinctly!

by lyoffee
over 1 year ago

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Submission Began
Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Submission Ended
Thursday, July 31, 2014
at 07:00 PM UTC

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Voting Began
Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Voting Ended
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
at 07:00 PM UTC

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Winner Announced
Tuesday, September 30, 2014