Young Men of Color need resources and support that focuses on preparing them for college; how to gain important skills for a successful transition to college and how to attain a sense of “career fluency” to identify opportunities for their future. Rising Scholars addresses these needs. Through the program support and services, the Scholars rise like a Phoenix from the ashes, reborn with a new purpose for success in school and in life. The Scholars are taught to always give back; thus their Motto is: “We Lift as We Rise.”
Rising Scholars is a subsidiary of the Young Scholars Program (YSP). It is YSP’s in-school based initiative to increase the number of Young Men of Color who matriculate to and graduate from college. The Rising Scholars is an addition to the YSP community of college bound Young Men. Rising Scholars is sponsored by the Oakland based College Bound Brotherhood (a cohort of 11 CBOs from 5 Different School Districts) and West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD).
Rising Scholars is comprised of 145 Young Men of Color Grades 9-12 from four (4)Target WCCUSD High Schools: De Anza, El Cerrito, Hercules, and Pinole. Scholars are selected by the following criterion: a minimum GPA of 2.5 (exceptions for 9th and 10th graders only are made on a case by case basis); a strong desire to go to college; a willingness to commit to a two-year contract for program participation; a responsible adult participant for support; and a good attitude.
Rising Scholars offers a rich program of services:
- 21 Weekly Pull-Out Sessions led by counselors during school hours for college preparation, life skills training, mentoring and leadership development.
- College Application Fee support
- Scholarship search and application support
- Career Exploration
- Connections for Internships and career shadowing opportunities
- Enrichment activities to expand the scholar’s horizons.
- College Tours to College Partner campuses to support the theory of finding the“Best Fit”
Rising Scholars has two unique components that separates it from other programs for Young Men of Color (YMC): 1) Training Counselors to work effectively with Young Men of Color. Counselors have monthly meetings where a topic is reviewed and a skill is taught with the goal of teaching then to work effectively with Young Men of Color; Counselors are given a curriculum designed for working with YMC during the weekly in-school pull-out sessions. During the monthly meetings counselors have the opportunity to share what is working well in the curriculum and/or pull-out session with examples and what could be improved. These monthly meetings also provide an opportunity for the counselors to build an identity as a group. 2) Through the Young Scholars Program Post-Secondary Partnerships, the young men will have institutional support for college retention, academic success, engagement, and movement toward degree attainment.
Rising Scholars data shows improvement for young men in the program for attendance rates; a reduction in chronic absenteeism; an increase in desire to go to college; an increase in the attitude toward seeing college as do-able; a desire to earn a college degree; and an increase in seeing themselves as a Brotherhood with the unified goal of matriculating to and graduating from college.
Rising Scholars was launched in February of 2014 and is going strong. The future looks bright!