Accelerating College Opportunity
for Foster and Low-Income Youth
Accelerating College Opportunity
for Foster and Low-Income Youth
The Educating Students Together (EST) College Access Program has empowered economically disadvantaged students to pursue and achieve their college education dreams. The mission of Educating Students Together is to increase the access, retention, and graduation of youth in the foster care system and from low-income communities at Historically Black Colleges and Universities to transform their lives.
According to the Pew Charitable Trust, when foster youth leave high school and do not enroll in college, within two to four years, many experience unemployment, go on public assistance, battle homelessness, or become involved in the criminal justice system. The outcomes for foster youth who do attend college are equally as direr. Less than 3% of former foster youth ever graduate from college without the support of a warm and caring individual.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, colleges and universities continue to struggle to graduate low-income students. While 66% of the wealthiest students complete their studies and graduate, only 16% of low-income students graduate from college.
Application Essay Coaching
ACT/SAT Prep Tutoring
Scholarship Essay Coaching
Connections to Campus Support Services
Connections to EST Alumni Attending the Same School Who Share Their Experience and Knowledge With the Student
Mentor Assigned for Monthly Check-ins with Student
Graduate School Assistance
Connections to a Professional Network of EST Graduates
This Year’s Results
In institutional scholarships awarded to 35 students
Nationally, less than 1% of high school students receive full-ride scholarships
25% of EST students received full-ride scholarships to attend Howard, Tennessee State, Kalamazoo College, Cornell, University of LaVerne, USC, and Morehouse
Awarded in outside scholarships
One student was admitted to Cornell with an offer of $320,000 in institutional scholarships
She also received $1.2 million in total offers from various colleges
Four students received substantial scholarships to attend Howard ($20,000 per year) or UC Santa Barbara ($25,000 per year)
Four students are finalists for the $30,000 Jackie Robinson Scholarship and one winner
By The Numbers
Total students served
Average number of program participants per year
Reside in low-income households
Are accepted into 4-year colleges
Are students of color
Mariah’s college journey began in 2009 when she graduated high school as a single mother in the foster care system.
Though it was difficult at times to keep everything going, she knew how important education was. Her experience led her to pursue a degree and career in Social Work. In 2016, Mariah, along with her kids, experienced homelessness. But this made her even more determined to succeed. Education was the way to a better life.
“I met Dr. Delahoussaye while I was on a tour of HBCUs with another group. But we got to talking, and we began to build a relationship. Visiting Clark Atlanta, I fell in love with the campus and the school. I was determined to go there.” Through her connection with Dr. Delahoussaye and EST, she was able to find the money for school through scholarships. She also made connections within the school that helped her find the funds necessary to continue.“COVID was a challenging time for us. The school had to shut down the dorms, and suddenly I was without a place to live. I didn’t have anywhere to go. Dr. Delahoussaye reached out to some donors who helped me get the money for housing. If it weren’t for them, I don’t know how my kids and I would have been able to continue.”
Like many students, the shift to distance learning wasn’t easy and hadn’t prepared students for online learning. “Fortunately, the housing I obtained had Internet access included. That helped financially, and of course, I wouldn’t have been able to keep up with my schoolwork without it. EST donors were the lifeline I needed.”
Through her studies, Mariah started working at a detox facility for girls and is currently working at a group home for boys. Her experiences have helped her make an impact on the kids she works with daily. “I get questions all the time about college and what it’s like to be a college student. I can relate to them and what they’re going through.” She helps them identify college programs or careers that they might be interested in, and of course, her own story helps inspire them to see that a college career is possible.
Mariah is finishing up her studies in the coming academic year and is planning on going into the Accelerated Master’s Program in Social Work at Clark Atlanta. Less than 3% of former foster youth graduate from college. We are pleased and excited to share with you that Mariah will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in December 2021. Thank you so much for being an EST College Access Program donor, and for helping students like Mariah earn their college degree.
For Charles Johnson, a tour of historically black colleges was the first step of a life-changing journey.
Yasmin and Greg Delahoussaye took Charles and other students to universities, museums, and historical sites in the South. “It’s hard to put it into words the meaning of it, how it affected me,” Charles recalled. “It was just a great experience. It was overwhelming too, in a good way.” That experience motivated Charles to apply to Clark Atlanta University, a university he had not heard about before the tour. But navigating the admissions and financial aid processes was not easy for Charles, who is a first-generation college student and a former foster child raised in Oakland.
The Delahoussayes stepped in to help with a commitment that left Charles in awe. “Dr. Delahoussaye has just been great, using her networks to get me connected,” Charles said. “She went above and beyond.” The Delahoussayes connected Charles with help in the financial aid office; they helped find him a job; and they assisted him with locating affordable housing. To make his transition from the Bay Area to Atlanta easier, the Delahoussayes created a circle of support—alumni mentors and Clark Atlanta students. “She connected me with some great people that I still talk to this day to help me get around,” Charles said. Charles, who transferred from College of Alameda, is now a junior majoring in social work. His goal is to work with foster youth, to provide them with the kind of support he could have used during his time in the system. As he works to achieve his goals as a student at Clark Atlanta, Charles knows he is not alone. When he needs assistance, EST is just a phone call away. “It’s been tough, don’t get me wrong,” Charles said. “But they just made it easier. I know a lot of people don’t have this support.”
On her journey to earn a nursing degree, EST is a lifeline.
In the summer following her sophomore year, Laniyah Cacho faced financial challenges that threatened to end her studies at Tuskegee University. “I was so stressed out,” she recalled. “I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to come back.” Then Laniyah realized she didn’t have to face those challenges alone. The resourceful student reached out to her mentors at Educational Student Tours for help. In a matter of months, Yasmin and Gregory Delahoussaye tapped their network of donors for support, helped Laniyah apply for scholarships, and helped make housing arrangements.
“Dr. Delahoussaye has done everything in her power to make sure I made it back for the fall semester,” Laniyah said. By the start of the fall semester, EST had raised $10,000—enough to cover Laniyah’s fees and other expenses. Laniyah was ready to continue working toward her goal of earning a bachelor’s degree and becoming a registered nurse. This is the role EST plays in the lives of many students who take the tour. Laniyah’s father is a strong supporter of her education, but the family needed more. EST provides students like Laniyah with ongoing support and mentoring. When Laniyah was 7-years-old, her mother was killed by her boyfriend. Laniyah’s father raised her in a South Los Angeles neighborhood near Manual Arts High School, and she is the first in her family to attend college. Laniyah has thrived at Tuskegee. She sees her future success through the lens of family and community. When Laniyah earns her degree, her siblings will see that they can achieve as well. Laniyah plans to use her nursing skills to improve the health outcomes of African Americans. EST is helping her transform her dreams into reality. “I’m so grateful for everything [Educational Student Tours is] doing for me,” Laniyah said.
EST is currently accepting juniors in high school for our free college access program on a first-come, first-serve basis. Let us help you compete for admissions and scholarships to selective and highly selective four-year colleges.
If it is in your heart/means and you would like to contribute financially, please consider helping out with a donation.
The following organizations are proud supporters of Educating Students Together. Along with our donors, they continue to help our nonprofit make a difference in our community.
The Hale Foundation
Matthew and Roberta Jenkins Foundation