Fiscal Year 2021 Annual Report
Everything we do at College Possible is aimed at eliminating barriers on a student’s path to complete a college degree and the economic mobility it has been proven to afford. To the more than 22,000 students we served during the 2020–2021 school year, the COVID-19 pandemic presented a remarkable set of challenges that made that path tougher than ever, particularly for students of color, first-generation students and students from low-income backgrounds. For these reasons, our commitment to our mission and our gratitude to our supporters and funders has never been stronger.
More than anything, the persistence of College Possible students, coaches and staff have given us much to celebrate. While national college persistence rates dropped to a historic lows last year, students enrolled in College Possible programs continued to persist, defying these national trends. As we reflect on our key learnings, four themes have surfaced that exemplify our students' ability to persist on their college path, described in broader detail throughout this annual report:
CONTINUITY: Meaningful peer relationships provided continuity of support.
ENGAGEMENT: Creativity and adaptability met students where they were.
COMMUNITY: Virtual experiences built much-needed community.
PARTNERSHIP: Shared partner commitments enhanced student support.
On behalf of our entire team, I want to thank you for your continued support and commitment to our mission. Your partnership plays a vital role in supporting each and every student we’re privileged to serve.
Chief Executive Officer
Leadership and National Board of Directors
Chief Executive Officer
FISCAL YEAR 2021
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Stephen M. Smith, Chair
Joanna Burleson, Vice Chair
Managing Director, The
Monitor Institute, Deloitte Consulting, LLP
Al Fan, Treasurer
Dr. Donnell Butler
Managing Director of College Initiatives, Together Education
Dr. Lorelle Espinosa
Director of Programs for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in STEM, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Marlene M. Ibsen
CEO and President, Travelers Foundation, VP, Community Relations, The Travelers Companies, Inc.
Co-founder, Boldly Go Philanthropy
Daniel Lugo, J.D.
President, Queens University of Charlotte
Chief Public Affairs Officer, Fairview Health Services
Principal and Founder, ExecMommyGroup LLC
Chief Change Agent and Founder, Flying Elephant
“The toll of this (COVID-19) pandemic is, in a word, devastating. It’s eroding students’ academic success, their emotional well-being, and their personal finances.”
John King Jr., president and CEO of the Education Trust and a former U.S. Secretary of Education
[ per-sist, -zist ]
to continue steadfastly or firmly in some state, purpose or course of action, especially in spite of opposition
Nationally, the COVID-19 pandemic has measurably widened the college equity gap — the systemic disparities and barriers that disproportionately affect students from low-income backgrounds, persons of color, and first-generation students in their ability to get into and through college. In fact, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC), the rate of college student persistence dropped two percentage points last year, the largest one-year drop since 2009, when the NSCRC began reporting this metric.
By contrast, students enrolled in College Possible programs last year persisted at rates that defied these national norms. Several factors contributed to these important results, including those inherent in the College Possible coaching model, the resilience of our coaches and staff, and the unwavering support of our partners and funders. In the narrative that follows, we highlight four standout themes that empowered the persistence of College Possible students in fiscal year 2021 amid a set of truly remarkable circumstances.
For many students, COVID-19 has raised new barriers to getting a degree and made old barriers that much harder to overcome. Early evidence also shows disparities in these impacts for students who faced the greatest hurdles to entering and staying in school before the pandemic, especially those students from historically underserved, marginalized groups.
Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, “Education in a Pandemic: The Disparate Impacts of COVID-19 on America’s Students"
Kevin Cortez, High School Junior from Omaha, Nebraska
Kevin Cortez, now a high school senior in Omaha, Nebraska, wants to design and build houses, a career track he’s had in mind for years. He started working with a College Possible coach last fall as he began his junior year, a pivotal time on the college path when students prepare to take the SAT or ACT and begin their college search. It was also a time when he made the move to an online school environment.
Camila Moralez, High School Senior
from Chicago, Illinois
For Camila Moralez, the hardest part about starting her senior year in a pandemic was the social isolation and disconnection from her school community. “I’d picked higher-level classes because everyone there really wanted to be there. Before Covid, the discussions were eye-opening, everyone was engaged,” said Camila. Despite teachers’ best efforts, class via Zoom just wasn’t the same. “It was tough," she said. "A lot of students stayed off camera.”
Rachel Riojas, Catalyze Coach at California State University Stanislaus
For Rachel Riojas, a college coach serving students at her alma mater, California State University Stanislaus, the pandemic’s impact last year was as varied as the students she served. Most of her cohort are first-generation college students, and last year’s top challenges often aligned to where they were on their college journey.
At the close of our 2021 school year, College Possible’s reach included:
Chicago, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Omaha, Oregon, Philadelphia and Washington
*To any degree granting institution, inclusive of students enrolled in our core program and Catalyze program.
College Possible’s near-peer coaching provides a proven, uniquely personalized, and effective way to keep students from low-income backgrounds on the path to college completion.
At the close of the 2020–2021 school year, College Possible students achieved the following college access, retention and success results:
*To any degree-granting institution, for Fall 2021.
*At a four-year, bachelor’s degree granting institution during the 2020-2021 school year.