It’s Test Prep Time: “SAT Angels” Donate Supplies & Study to High School Students

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Graph It Forward Today “Closes Gap” for Low Income High School Students, Ensures That All Students Have Essential Supplies & Services

Laura Wilson, founder of Graph It Forward Today (GIFT), a nonprofit that donates test prep services with personal support, graphing calculators and gently-used test prep books to high school students nationwide.

In the short time that GIFT has been in existence, we have already seen positive results. Students in our test prep program have increased their scores on average 110 to 140 points.

It’s “SAT Crunch Time” and there are many high school students who may be at a disadvantage when taking important college entrance exams. Graph It Forward Today (GIFT), a new nonprofit founded by a renowned test prep author and expert with a team of “SAT Angels” -- is working to clear the way for all high school students to have equal access to the tools and prep needed to take the SAT/ACT exams and gain admission to college.

GIFT was formed to “level the playing field for all college applicants” by providing supplies and services to high school students nationwide who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford them. There are now more than 200 students on the GIFT wait list to receive test prep services and supplies. To date, GIFT has donated test prep services to more than 1,800 students nationwide, 150 have also received graphing calculators.

Says Laura Wilson, CEO of WilsonDailyPrep and founder of GIFT: "I've seen firsthand in my office that these tools make a significant difference. It pains me that I see so many students going into these tests unprepared -- not because they choose to be unprepared, but because they don't have the financial means. In our society it is touted that ‘college is accessible to all.’ I would like to make college more accessible to lower income students. Not only do these resources open up doors to higher education, but they also open up doors to necessary financial aid."

On its website, College Board, the organization that administers the SAT exam, recommends that students bring with them a calculator for the math section of the exam. A graphing calculator (which retails for about $100) can increase speed and accuracy, and also make it possible to perform the necessary functions needed for higher level math.

Wilson, a spirited and passionate former teacher who has worked with students at all socioeconomic levels throughout the U.S., founded GIFT a few years ago while working with Take Stock In Children, a Miami nonprofit that provides academic services to disadvantaged students. Wilson had a revelation there that sparked the concept for GIFT. At the time, she had been emphasizing the importance of remembering to bring along important tools to the SAT exam, and told the students, “Bring your graphing calculators with extra batteries!” One student raised her hand and asked, “What should I do if I can’t afford a graphing calculator?”

It was then that a “school bell” went off in Wilson’s head and she became driven to offer low income students the same tools and resources that are accessible to students from families from higher incomes.    

Wilson has since donated thousands of dollars of her own to finance her nonprofit. She runs the organization with a team of dedicated volunteers that she calls “SAT Angels.” These volunteers work tirelessly to raise funds and awareness for their cause. The team has just launched a unique series of fundraising initiatives: Study-A-Thons for PSATs, SATs and ACTs; Read-a-Thons, and the Adopt-A-Student program. These student-run fundraisers benefit students at all income levels.

“This is a case of students helping other students, while helping themselves at the same time,” said Nina Auerbach, program director at GIFT. “This effort is designed so that students at every income level who participate can improve their scores.”

The two primary college entrance exams are best known as the SAT and ACT tests. Scores earned on these exams are now used by colleges as an eligibility criterion for merit aid and academic scholarships, as well as for determining admission. Recent statistics show that test scores increase with every additional $10,000 earned by the test-takers’ family.

A survey that was released in The New York Times and in USA Today revealed that there were “disparities by race, gender and family income” for these college entrance exams. The findings indicated that students whose families earned less than $40,000 a year posted lower average scores than students from more affluent backgrounds.

In 2010, the College Board administered more than 3 million SAT exams. Over the last decade, participation by minority students has increased by 78 percent.

“In the short time that GIFT has been in existence, we have already seen positive results. Students in our test prep program have increased their scores on average 110 to 140 points,” says Diane Thaler, a full-time volunteer and executive director at GIFT. “Our goal is to take steps to close the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students in today’s college testing process.”

She added, “Everyone should have the same opportunity to pursue their academic aspirations.”

About GraphItForward Today (GIFT)

GIFT was founded in October, 2010 and granted 501 (c) status in January, 2011 to create educational opportunities for high school students nationwide by providing essential academic tools for students limited not by ability, but by means. GIFT donates online and onsite college test prep services with personal support, graphing calculators and gently used test prep books (“The GIFT Package”).

GIFT is affiliated with other nonprofit organizations and school districts that serve disadvantaged students including Let’s Get Ready, United Way NYC, United Way Boston, La Sociedad Latina, West End House, Dorchester Federated, Breakthrough Cambridge, Steppingstone Foundation, Kipp Charter School, Street Squash, Take Stock In Children, Reach Prep, Yonkers Public Schools and Harlem High School.

All funds donated to GIFT will be used solely for the cost of test prep services, graphing calculators, batteries and packaging. At this time, all test prep services and operating costs are donated in full by WilsonDailyPrep.com, the online test prep company founded by Laura Wilson in 2008. For more information, please call 1-800-888-0692, email nina(at)graphitforward(dot)org, or visit http://www.graphitforward.org.

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