Since 2009, The Urban Assembly has been improving upon our Bridge to College program to help high school graduates enroll in college. The majority of UA students live in poverty and are the first in their family to apply to college. Many of our students are tasked with getting to college on their own. In response to this need for support, the UA has created a program that is scaling up beyond our network of schools and has potential for impact as a model for urban districts across the nation.

"Summer Melt"

Research suggests that up to 40% of low-income students who are accepted to college and intend to enroll do not attend in the fall. This is a national concern, and numerous studies and articles have been released in recent years on this "summer melt" phenomenon. Researchers Lindsay Page and Ben Castleman have published articles on this issue, and in October 2014 Harvard Education Press is releasing their new book Summer Melt: supporting Low-Income Students Through the Transition to College, featuring the UA's Bridge to College program.

Urban Assembly Results

Through the Bridge to College Program, UA has achieved a consistent 75% college matriculation rate for its alumni within six months of graduation, and nearly 80% within one year of graduation.

Program Model and Expansion

The Bridge to College Program was launched to safeguard UA students against the breakdown between high school graduation and college enrollment. After several years of testing different approaches, the UA has created a youth-driven program that addresses the common pitfalls our students face throughout the summer. These pitfalls can be generally categorized into: financial aid issues, lingering college registration paperwork, and social and emotional barriers to matriculation.

When you deal with someone your own age versus an adult, you say more of what you need. The student can connect with you. Their counselors did all of this [college-transition processes] so long ago. [Bridge To College Coaches] can tell [students] about recent experiences.

Bridge to College Coach

The Bridge to College Program deploys UA alumni currently enrolled in college, called College Coaches, to identify and respond to financial, logistical and personal difficulties our UA high school graduates face in the transition from high school to college. College Coaches start in May, making presentations and leading workshops in their UA alma mater school in the spring, both as a way to share 'college knowledge' and as a way to build relationships with graduating seniors. In total, over 1,200 UA students were served in 2017 by 19 UA college coaches.

Because of the previous success of Bridge to College, the Urban Assembly has been replicating this program with CUNY At Home in College and the College Bound Initiative. As part of the replication, the UA trained 100 college coaches from across NYC in May and June, serving over 50 high schools outside of The Urban Assembly's own 21 schools. Bridge to College 2018 will provide support to nearly 12,000 high school seniors across NYC during the summer of 2018.