Young Scholars was created as a program within the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) to help increase the number of underrepresented students who were eligible for college admission. The inaugural group consisted of 50 African American and 50 Latino students both male and female from the traditional high schools within the district. Services were provided to give a more personalized support for the college preparation process than the busy high school counselor with a case load of over 500 students could provide. Monthly parent meetings were held to educate parents about the college preparation and application process. College tours were conducted to give students a close-up view of college life and to bring a sense of reality to college matriculation. Young Scholars became a non-profit in 2000. A girls mentoring program: Women, Intelligent, Strong and Empowered (WISE) was added in 2001. A male Mentoring Program BMAD was added in 2004.
A Parent College Club was created to give both scholars and college parents support to help ensure the likelihood of retention and graduation from college within a four to five-year period. The College Club meets six times a year on the same dates and time of the high school parent meetings. College Club parents discover they are not alone in the challenges their Scholar faces as they transition to college and move towards degree attainment. College Parents find that the support they receive from other parents helps them adjust to letting their child go and teaching them to fly. The group has been in existence since 2005.
In 2007, Ms. Rushing separated from SFUSD and moved the program to the East Bay where it remains in operation.
Young Scholars continues to serve a population of students who dream of a college education, but may lack access to information and resources to yield successful college matriculation. Jacqueline Rushing, the CEO, and all the stakeholders of the Program, including parents, mentors, and volunteers, are heavily invested in the success of all Scholars; through their persistence and determination, the success of Scholars is ensured by:
- Building a deep connection with participants and families: Young Scholars Program builds a deep and long-lasting bond with Scholars and their families that begins during secondary education and extends through post-secondary education, weaving a strong safety net and support system for Scholars. Through these relationships, the program is able to help Scholars feel empowered to overcome obstacles, engage in the college community, persist, and attain a college degree.
- Building strong relationships and institutional partnerships with colleges and universities: Young Scholars Program builds strong relationships and institutional partnerships with colleges and universities to ensure that they offer the support and guidance Scholars need on campus to achieve, engage, persist in and graduate from college. These relationships are critical because they ensure that college or university administrators, champions, mentors, and advisers are aware of the unique challenges faced by the scholars in their quest for degree attainment.