College Beyond helps New Orleans youth enroll and succeed in college.
We envision a city that delivers on the promise of its public K-12 system by supporting 80% of its students to degree attainment.
We are guided by the belief that a 9% college graduation rate among low-income youth in America is unacceptable.
Since 2012, College Beyond (formerly College Bridge New Orleans) has been incubated as an initiative of New Orleans College Preparatory Academies (NOCP), and incorporated as an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization in 2015.
With strong early results during the NOCP pilot, College Beyond is building interventions for the three critical moments where the college process breaks down: admissions & financial aid applications, college enrollment, and first year success.
We partner with colleges and high schools to provide counselors, students, and families with training, expert coaches, and micro-grants. Then we close the information loop between high school and college by sharing data on student outcomes with our partner institutions. Learn more in What We Do.
Nationally, low college persistence rates are undermining the impact of K-12 education gains for low-income youth.
Much research – neatly summarized by a Gates Foundation report – has documented the decline in college enrollment and graduation that leaves a staggering college attainment gap between low-income youth and their more affluent peers.
When confronted with the difficult transition to college, most students stumble on barriers – but these barriers can be difficult to surmount for first-generation-to-college or low-income students who may not know how to navigate this new world, or who do not have the resources to get through emergencies. Quickly or over time, a combination of academic, social, and financial challenges bear down upon students who can be less equipped to deal with them, and again more students choose to leave college.
The end result is that just 9% of youth in America’s bottom income quintile earn a bachelor’s degree within 6 years of high school graduation – as compared to 80% of their peers in the top quintile.
(Sources: Louisiana Dept. of Education; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)
New Orleans is a microcosm of this national challenge:
- In 2014, despite a district graduation rate of 73%, just 42% of high school seniors in New Orleans Recovery School District high schools completed the FAFSA.
- The same year, 47% of New Orleans public high school graduates enrolled in higher education.
- 74% of 2014 graduates who did enroll in college attended one of just 9 schools, where the 4 year graduation rate for African Americans ranges from 0% to a high of 26% (6 year black graduation rate range: 7% to 47%). (Source: Louisiana Department of Education first-time freshman enrollment data.)
- Moreover, the majority (60%) of students who drop out of the college process do so within an 18-month timespan.
College Beyond’s pilot at NOCP’s Walter L. Cohen College Prep has shown that better outcomes are possible.
Across New Orleans, there are many more students — more than half of all public school graduates each year — who do not currently have access to these or similar supports.
College Beyond is designing solutions to meet this need.
We believe that how we meet this challenge matters.
At College Beyond, we strive to live out the following values:
We seek possibility and confront fears to grow and overcome obstacles.
We are inclusive. We are better with all voices at the table. Student agency matters.
We set and achieve ambitious goals with integrity.
We support each others’ well-being. We talk about hard things honestly and with love. We create welcoming relationships and spaces.
We face reality and own our actions. We are accountable to ourselves and our community.