Educational Opportunities for Low-Income Students


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It’s no shock that having a college degree provides better opportunities in life and a chance at a higher income. A recent study done by researchers at Harvard and Stanford found that, “Only 34 percent of the highest-achieving high-school seniors whose families fell in the bottom quarter of income distribution — versus 78 percent in the top quarter — attended one of the country’s most selective colleges, based on a list of nearly 250 schools compiled by Barron’s.”

Due to how inadequately low-income students are represented at these colleges, many organizations have been set up to help these students achieve more.

Prep for Prep was founded in 1978 by a teacher in the Bronx, Gary Simons. The goal of the organization was to find talented students of color in the city, and prepare them for private schools. Many alumni have gotten jobs at big businesses like Chase and Time Warner.

Also founded by Simons, Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA) is another great organization that helps advance the best students attending public schools. LEDA grabs exceptional students in the top 10 percent of their class, regardless of race or gender whose families made less than $55,000 a year. 60 students enter the program every year, and are give the chance to spend the summer before their senior year at Princeton, studying ethics, political theory and public policy, and preparing for college entrance exams.

Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO Scholars) is a year-round academic program that helps prepare low-income public high school students to get in to competitive colleges. SEO was founded by an invest­ment banker named Michael Oshe­owitz. He wanted to create a men­tor­ing pro­gram to help “under­-served stu­dents gain admis­sion to largely-white pri­vate col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties.”

Programs like Prep for Prep, LEDA and SEO are very popular with educated donors in New York City because they have seen the results it has brought. Just this May, the financier Henry Kravis pledged $4 million in matching gifts to SEO.

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