Long Term Impact
For its first ten years, College is Real focused on and operated solely at, Richmond High School. Having achieved meaningful success in changing the college-going culture at Richmond High with more than 100 alumni now attending college, CIR is having a strong impact and proving to Richmond students that college is a reality.
CIR’s next phase of growth will be to expand its student population at Richmond High and to introduce its successful model to one or two of the other main high schools in Richmond. In doing so, CIR will broaden its impact on the entire Richmond community as more and more of its youth move from being college ready to college graduates. The CIR model is definitely scalable and, with the right on-campus directors and sufficient mentors, CIR’s goal to have at least 300-500 Richmond students in its program within the next few years is certainly achievable. And it is committed to having 100% of CIR students accepted into four-year colleges with a very high percentage attending and, most importantly, graduating from these colleges.
In order to achieve its growth goals, CIR will focus on recruiting and training new staff, hopefully to include former CIR members who recently graduated from college. CIR’s mentors represent a key strength and a true difference-maker for the program. As such, CIR has enlisted the firm of PwC on a pro bono basis to develop a strategic mentor recruitment and training program in order to ensure it can attract the required complement of high-quality and committed mentors to work with this significantly larger number of students
In 2014, CIR expanded its model vertically by starting a summer orientation and education program for qualified middle school students who will attend Richmond High. This summer program lasts three weeks and includes academic courses in math and literacy as well as a unit on college readiness and qualifications. It is anticipated all of the middle school students participating in the summer program will become CIR members when they attend high school in the fall. As CIR expands into other high schools in Richmond it will also expand the number of middle schools students participating in this summer program.
In addition to the summer orientation program, CIR ultimately plans to expand its math, literacy and college orientation program to feeder middle schools throughout the school year on an after-school basis. College-readiness must start at as early an age as possible to fully prepare low income, minority students for college as strong applicants and as college students.
College is Real’s students are encouraged to participate in community service and extracurricular activities. CIR’s students have participated in a CIR-organized after-school soccer coaching and academic mentoring program at nearby Dover Elementary School. CIR’s students will act as mentors the middle school students in its after-school literacy and math program to be implemented at Helms Middle School.
CIR’s students are encouraged to participate in community service organizations in order to learn the value of community service and to share with younger students what they have learned about the importance of achieving in school and a college education. It helps them become well-rounded and strengthens their college qualifications.
CIR’s alumni attending college and who have graduated from college have demonstrated a desire to continue to give back to their communities and to College is Real. Several CIR’s alums have acted as tutors to CIR’s students, have provided college tours and have returned to campus to speak to, and counsel, CIR’s members about the college experience.
CIR has helped establish with its students and alumni an ethos of giving back to the community and a spirit of using education to change the community.