Dallas, TX (PRWEB) February 20, 2013
Uplift Education, North Texas’ largest charter network, is sending 1,158 students grades 6-11 to visit colleges around the state and country in February.
The initiative, partially funded by private contributors, is designed to introduce students who may never have thought about college to university campus life.
“Many of our students come from low-income communities where only 8% of children earn a college degree in six years, if at all. We are working on breaking this cycle with a program that exposes them to the benefits of completing a post-secondary degree,” said Aimee Rincon, senior director of Uplift’s Road to College program.
In Texas, this issue is especially poignant where college retention rations are low for minority students. A report released by the Houston Endowment in 2012 revealed that only 11% of African-American and Hispanic students are earning degrees. This is almost two-thirds less than their white counterparts and a full three quarters lower than Asian students across Texas.
For graduates of the Uplift network, the numbers tell a different story. All of them are accepted to college, and for the past three years, 80-90% of alumni are staying there.
“This persistence gap is something we spend a lot of time thinking about. Many of our students live in communities that don’t have a culture of college. They don’t realize all of the issues involved, from admissions, to financial assistance, to dealing with the distances they will be from their families. We spend a great deal of time at Uplift trying to instill a different mindset in our scholars,” Ms. Rincon explained.
For a two-week period in February, Uplift scholars are visiting in-state college options like Texas A&M-Commerce, The University of Texas-Austin, Baylor University, and Trinity University in San Antonio.
Older students will board planes bound for four cities to explore options farther from home. Hundreds of students headed to Atlanta, Boston, Chicago and Denver on February 20 to see what campus life is like outside of Texas. For many of these students, this is their first trip on a plane. For others, they rely on these trips as they make their college decisions. Chris Mendez, a junior at Uplift Williams Prep in northwest Dallas, has been on several of the trips before. His mother, Elizabeth, sees them as a vital part of his college decision.
“These trips are so important. I can’t take him on four or five college visits. I want him to be able to see himself out in the world so he can see himself achieving his goals,” she said.
April Bowman, Uplift’s director of alumni programs runs the trips. To a large extent, the visits are a giant counseling exercise.
“College is a big commitment for most of our students. It’s also a huge unknown. Many of them are pretty intimidated when they take their first trips. They love the travel and exploring new cities, but we spend a lot of time on these campuses demystifying the college experience. If they are going to understand it, they have to see and be able to visualize themselves there,” she said.
About Uplift Education
Uplift Education is a is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization operating a network of 26 tuition-free, college preparatory, public charter schools in Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington and Irving on 12 campuses. Uplift Education schools provide a rigorous, multidisciplinary curriculum, with an emphasis on college preparation – 100% of graduates are accepted to college. Uplift Education educates 7,500 students, with the majority being low-income and minority students who will be the first in their family to attend college. Uplift schools are public schools -- students are selected by a blind lottery with no information collected on their past academic performance. For more information, visit uplifteducation.org or facebook.com/uplifteducation.
Mike Terry, Director of Communications
Sara Ortega, Public Relations Coordinator