Our Why & A Profile of Paris

What is your why?

Last weekend, Paris and Sarah participated in the first-ever Community Summit of 4pt0 Schools, and got to attend a refresher session on the now-famous TED Talk by Simon Sinek.

At College Bridge, our mission statement focuses what we do and how we do it. We help public school students enroll and succeed in college — and we constantly reflect on how to evolve that work and do it better and better.

But the summit session was a great reminder that our why is slightly more complicated than that, because our why is about the nuances of individual students’ lives.

Recently, the alumni blog of Education Pioneers interviewed Paris in a two-part series about her story and what inspires her work with College Bridge — a series which tells our why in a slightly different way.

As the series helps to explain, our why is about helping individual students transcend obstacles to their success. Our why is about serving students who have worked hard in high school, and need a hand with the next step. Our why is about supporting the broadest possible swath of students in our city. Our why is about the long arc of a student’s experience on their road from high school graduation to a post-secondary degree.

Educational equity is one of the central social justice issues of our time, and the path to earning a college degree is riddled with unnecessary barriers for our most vulnerable students.

And of course, this is anchored in something much bigger. Educational equity is one of the central social justice issues of our time, and the path to earning a college degree is riddled with barriers for our most vulnerable students. At the heart of it, that is our why.




Share Out & Scale Up: College Bridge Featured on WWNO


College Bridge’s Paris Woods recording the interview at the WWNO studio

“What is education entrepreneurship, exactly?” asks WWNO’s Mallory Falk in a recent story on education entrepreneurship featuring College Bridge New Orleans and other education start-ups in the city.

As Mallory explains, “[an] aspect of education entrepreneurship is building connective tissue in New Orleans’ uniquely decentralized school system.”


And that’s part of how we see the role of CBNO: we link up students, families, high schools, and colleges at a phase of the educational process where links have historically been weaker, and where strengthening supports can make a huge impact for both individual students and our community as a whole.

Thanks to Mallory and WWNO for the opportunity to chat!


College Bridge Ties for First Place at PitchNOLA: Education!

pw2 Pitch competitions are an excellent challenge. They’re hard — usually start-up founders are allotted just 3 or 4 minutes to persuade judges and audience that their mission tackles a real problem and does it in a smart way — but they force you to be very clear about what is most important.

And College Bridge’s Executive Director Paris Woods excels at just that.

Last night, Paris competed with 9 other outstanding education start-ups in the PitchNOLA: Education competition, sponsored by Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation and 4pt0 Schools. In tough competition, College Bridge advanced to the finals, in which presenters responded to judges’ feedback.

At the end of the night, College Bridge tied 3-ways for first place — and won a $3,000 prize!

Congratulations to all the competitors, and many thanks to the teams at Propeller and 4pt0 for creating opportunities like PitchNOLA to support new ideas in education.


Sen. Mary Landrieu Hosts CBNO Friendraiser

Landrieu Event 159For the past few months, the College Bridge team has been having some great conversations with former U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu. Sen. Landrieu has been a champion for education for years, and is still leading with vision and passion to help students and families in New Orleans and elsewhere.

We were so excited when she agreed to host College Bridge’s first “friendraiser” event in early October!

The CBNO board led the charge on invitations, and about 40 people gathered on Oct. 5 in a lovely home in the Lower Garden District to learn more about our mission and how they could help.

We talked about how a college degree is a pathway to greater income:

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And about the challenges our city faces in college attainment:

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Cohen College Prep alum Reginald Rice also made a guest-star appearance, speaking eloquently about the challenges of transitioning to college and the help CBNO Exec. Dir. Paris Woods has provided along the way. Thanks again for joining us, Reginald!

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Many thanks to Sen. Landrieu for being a fantastic host and the CBNO Board for their commitment to spreading the word about the College Bridge mission. What a great start to the fall!

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In Our Own Voices

Earlier this year, in the midst of college application season at Cohen College Prep, we had an idea.

Each of us had read many brilliant college essays over the years. But we realized that all too often these wonderful pieces of writing (into which students pour their blood, sweat, and tears) are read by counselors and admissions officers only.

Then, they basically gather dust.

What if, we asked ourselves, students got the chance to publish their college essays? What if they could actually get paid for the labor they put into these pieces of writing, in the form of scholarships for college? What if more people got to read about their opinions, experiences, and dreams?

That was the beginning of the In Our Own Voices project.

Students and counselors from Cohen College Prep and high schools across the city got excited to join in, and 32 student authors were chosen for publication in what has now become an honest-to-goodness book, In Our Own Voices: College Essays by New Orleans Youth.

Nikki Mayeux, a teacher at Cohen and an amazing photographer, very kindly donated her time and captured the beautiful portraits scattered throughout the book. We asked our communities to support the project via Kickstarter (check out the video, produced by CCP’s multi-talented Band Director, Riccardo Emilien), and through the overwhelming generosity of nearly 100 backers, we pooled a whopping $4,057 to cover the cost of printing.

Now, we are delighted to report that the books have arrived!

And copies are officially for sale. Paperbacks are $25 each, and hardcovers are $50. The best part is that 100% of proceeds go back to New Orleans students in the form of scholarships to help cover the cost of college.

If you would like a copy, just head over to the New Orleans College Prep donation page and place your order!

We can’t wait for you to read the hilarious, heart-felt, wise words of 32 strong youth voices from here in New Orleans.


Pitch It!

This spring, College Bridge was one of 9 lucky ventures selected to participate in Cohort 11 of the Launch program at 4pt0 Schools.

It was a wonderful, valuable experience, and culminated in a pitch night: a great opportunity to share the College Bridge with a broader community in New Orleans — in 4 minutes or less.

How did it go? Check out the video!